Start bringing bluebirds to your backyard with these tried-and-true tips from our readers.
Bluebird, Jennifer and Don Glenn
Start with a Birdhouse
If you want to bring bluebirds to your backyard to eat, then you should first look at luring them in to nest. Bluebird houses have specific dimensions. They should be 8 inches tall, 5 inches wide and 5 inches deep. Make a 1-1/2-inch entrance hole centered 6 inches from the floor.
Once you have a nesting box, mount it 5 to 10 feet high in an open and sunny area. The color of the box should remain natural, in light earth tones. — George Harrison, Contributing Editor
I love bluebirds, but I've learned that it's not particularly easy to attract them with food. Sure, they love insects and mealworms, but these aren't good options for me.
I keep hoping they will want to try some seed from my feeder, but they never do. Then, a couple of springs ago, I found an alternative that works.
I had a pair of bluebirds nesting in my backyard, and to my surprise, they started eating suet from my nearby feeding station. I should mention that the suet had lots of ground peanuts. The parents would eat it themselves and take it to their fledglings.
I'm glad I found a way to attract bluebirds without using mealworms. I just hope the peanut suet keeps them coming back — Robert Dilworth, Knoxville, Tennessee
We live in the country, so we couldn't figure out why bluebirds wouldn't visit our yard. Our neighbors have a pair every year, so my husband was determined to find a way to bring these beauties into our yard.
He built and put up a new birdhouse in our honeysuckle, and a few days later, a pair came to check out the home. I was determined to keep those bluebirds happy and healthy, so I decided to start a mealworm "farm."
A friend gave me a start from her own collection. I received mealworms, larva and beetles. Then I purchased 15 pounds of soybean meal from the mill.
I placed the meal in a 16- by 10-inch plastic container. We snapped on the lid and drilled about 75 ventilation holes in the top. I placed my worms, larva and beetles in the bean meal in the container. Then I placed a paper towel over them, followed by thin apple slices. After this, I put the lid back on and set it up in our insulated garage. This combination gives the worms enough moisture and food to grow well.
Every 3 or 4 days, I check to see if there's enough food left. I add thin table scraps like potato and banana peels to keep the worms fed.
Eventually, the worms turn into larva, the larva turn into beetles and the beetles lay eggs to hatch more worms. The cycle goes on an on, keeping me stocked with mealworms at all times.
During nesting season, my bluebird pair feed their young about 50 mealworms a day. It's a pleasure to feed and admire these beautiful creatures.
Friends and neighbors are amazed when they see the bluebird fly in when I ring my bell for feeding time. I'm just thankful to have the opportunity! — Darlene Peltes, Germantown, Illinois
Aside from mealworms, we've found that the bluebirds in our yard also like this creation we like to call Miracle Meal. Here's the recipe:
- 1 cup lard or melted beef suet
- 1 teaspoon corn oil
- 4 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Melt the suet and then stir in the other ingredients. Add anything else you think the bluebirds might like, including raisins and sunflower hearts.
After the mixture sets, cut it into chunks and serve as suet. To make the bluebirds really happy, try adding some mealworms as well. We offer this Miracle Meal every morning and evening, and the bluebirds always come back for more. — Eva Every, Elsie, Michigan
One year, I tried a wild bird seed blend that included dried cherries. Soon after, I noticed eastern bluebirds stopping at our feeder. Bluebirds don't normally eat seeds, so I grabbed my binoculars for a better look.
The birds were plucking the dried cherries from the mixture. Now I always throw a couple handfuls of dried cherries or raisins into the seed when I refill the feeder. — Mrs. Dallas Walker, Milan, Georgia
To help bluebirds get accustomed to my enclosed mealworm feeder, I prop open the hinged top with a stick. After they've entered the box a few times through its side entrances, I remove the stick. Once they've found this reliable source of mealworms, they'll keep coming back for more. —Patti Farnum, Nashville, Michigan
Bring 'Em Back
If you have bluebirds in your backyard, you probably want to keep them coming back. First of all, provide plenty of clean water in a nearby birdbath. Bluebirds also appreciate a host of berry trees and shrubs.
Since bluebirds build a new nest with each brood, be sure to clean out nest boxes after the young leave. This encourages a second and third nest in the same house during a single nesting season. — Bernice Maddux, Weatherford, Texas