Ask the Bird Experts: What Do Bluebirds Eat in Winter?

What foods do bluebirds eat in cold weather during winter? Do all bluebirds migrate? Our bird experts answer your questions.

“A few winters ago, four bluebirds spent time in the nesting boxes in my yard. What do they eat during the cold months? Are bluebirds supposed to migrate south?” 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.

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 birdbaths, 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.

(Read more: 7 Tips for Attracting Bluebirds)

Each month, Birds & Blooms readers send in their burning questions to birding experts, Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman, who are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world.

Got a bird question for Kenn and Kimberly? Submit your questions here! They may appear here or in a future issue of the magazine.

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.