Ask the Experts: Do Bluebirds Migrate in Winter?
What foods do bluebirds eat in cold weather during winter? Do all bluebirds migrate? Our bird experts answer your questions.
Do Bluebirds Migrate?
Courtesy Joann Firsdon
“Two pairs of eastern bluebirds moved into our purple martin house. Do bluebirds migrate? Shouldn’t they be heading south for the winter?” asks Ann Forth of Rockton, Ontario.
Kenn and Kimberly: Although many eastern bluebirds do migrate south in fall, others stay behind. Every winter, small flocks of bluebirds remain through the season in scattered areas all over southern Ontario. One of the keys to their survival is having secure places to sleep at night in cold weather, and it sounds as if the two pairs chose your martin house as their winter roost. Normally it’s a good idea to seal up the entrances to these houses until the martins return in spring, but of course it’s worthwhile to keep them open if bluebirds are using them.
What Do Bluebirds Eat in Winter?
“A few winters ago, four bluebirds spent time in the nesting boxes in my yard. What do they eat during the cold months?” asks Thomas Bruce of Wayland, Michigan.
Many bluebirds do stay as far north as Michigan for the winter, although they’re found only in limited areas.
During the colder months they’ll eat mainly fruits and berries, so planting native trees and shrubs that bear fruit is a wonderful way to provide food. Wild fruits and berries make up the main part of their winter diet, so they favor areas where they can consume fruits of red cedar, dogwood, hackberry, sumac, wild grape, poison ivy and other plants.
Check out the best bluebird feeders and feeding tips.
You can put out mealworms for bluebirds, but the best methods involve foods in nature. Bluebirds feed heavily on insects they find on or near the ground, so avoid treating your lawn with chemicals. They also love bird baths, and if you can make the water move—even if you just add a small dripper—that’s better still.
In cold weather, they usually sleep in tree cavities or other holes, so they may have been using your nesting boxes to roost in at night. Learn the best place for a bluebird house.
Next, discover more tips for attracting bluebirds.