Fun Facts About Bluebirds
- Bluebirds are found throughout North America including the Eastern, Western and Mountain Bluebirds. All bluebirds are cavity nesters and will use an artificial nest box. Habitat and nest cavities had been disappearing for many years, but bluebirds have made an incredible come back due to thousands of bluebird nest boxes being installed across the country.
- Nesting occurs from March through August. Only the female incubates the 4-6 eggs which she maintains at a temperature of 98 to 100ºF.
- Bluebirds are generally monogamous, staying together throughout the breeding season, and may breed together for more than one season. However, some birds may switch mates during a breeding season to raise a second brood.
- Bluebirds may raise two and sometimes three broods per season. Pairs may build their second nests on top of the first nest, or they may nest in an entirely new site. The male continues to take care of the recently fledged young while the female begins to re-nest. Young of the first brood will occasionally help raise their siblings in the second brood.
- Males may carry nest material to the nest, but they do not participate in the actual building. They spend much time guarding their mates during this time to prevent them from mating with other males.
- Families flock together until fall, when they merge with other family flocks. Some, but not all, bluebirds residing in the northern portions of the range migrate to southern latitudes, but those residing in southern latitudes tend to be residential.
- Adult Bluebirds tend to return to the same breeding territory year after year, but only a small percentage (three to five percent) of young birds return to where they hatched.
- Bluebirds love mealworms and can be drawn in with a small dish filled with mealworms.
- It is likely that up to 70% of all Bluebirds die before reaching their first birthday. Most adult Bluebirds live for only a few years, while a small number live up to four or five years. The oldest recorded Eastern Bluebird was ten years old, with the oldest Western and Mountain Bluebird being recorded at approximately six years old.
- A bluebird can spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at the remarkable distance of over 50 yards.
- Bluebird females of all species have duller plumage than males; this may reduce their visibility to predators.
- Bluebirds have no blue pigments in their feathers. Instead, each feather barb has a thin layer of cells that absorb all wavelengths of color except blue. Only the blue wavelength is reflected and scattered, resulting in their blue appearance to our eyes.
- Eastern Bluebird numbers declined throughout the late 1800s and much of the twentieth century, suffering an almost 90% decline in population. Their numbers began to stabilized during the 1960’s and have slowly increased ever since. Among other reasons, competition for nesting space from the introduced House Sparrow and European Starling contributed to this century-long decline.
- Late winter and early spring cold fronts can be very dangerous for Bluebirds due to the depletion of natural fruit supplies and the lack of insects.
- Bluebirds can fly at speeds up to 45 miles per hour if necessary.
- Eastern Bluebirds actually appear duller after molting in the late summer than at any other time of the year. Their new body feathers have dull brownish tips that wear off during the winter, leaving them bright and colorful for the next breeding season.
The Eastern Bluebird - native to our area, will be attracted to
habitat, food and nesting opportunities. Let's consider these separately.
A Bluebird's competitive advantage is his eyesight - he can see a caterpillar on a blade of grass at 50 yds. This skill comes in handy both for spotting insects as well as predators. As such, you will most often see Bluebirds in places with unobstructed vision - big yards, farms, parks, meadows and the like.
Insects are the mainstay of the bluebird's diet. They are known to eat fruit have also been taught to eat sunflower chips, but our focus will be on insects.
2.a Just like feeding other birds, the key is to offer a consistent source of food. If it is dependable, the birds will put the site into their bank of addresses for food.
2.b. Our shop offers meal worms! These are the larvae of beetles and are much enjoyed by bluebirds! We offer both live and dried meal worms. While equally nutritious, there are advantages to both.
LIVE Meal Worms: Bluebirds will recognize these as food because they move. Storage is good - live meal worms go into a somnambulant state when refrigerated and they will last up to 30 days there. Also, if you'd like you can take them out for several hours and put pieces of potato or apple into their box. They will appreciate the food and grow a little before you replace them in the fridge.
DRIED Meal Worms: Again, just as nutritious as "live" and if you are a consistent source of food, it may be all you need - especially during winter. Also, they are cheaper.
The trick is that they have to find the food. My experience is that I can mix them - spill a layer of dried meal worms on the bottom of the feeder and sprinkle 20 or so live ones on top each time I refill the feeder.
Bluebird eggs - Jeanne 2017
Amy Hamilton 2018