How to Attract Bluebirds to Mealworms (Using Live or Dried Grubs)

Mealworms are one of the best ways to attract bluebirds to your yard, but figuring out how to bring the birds to the grubs is the key.

Keep reading to find out how to attract bluebirds to mealworms, whether you’re using live or dried mealworms, what types of bluebird feeders to use, and how to set up your yard for success.

Key Takeaways

  • Live mealworms attract bluebirds the most, but dried mealworms can be cost-effective
  • Reduce competition for mealworms with specific bluebird feeders 
  • Offer mealworms near nesting sites and water sources for the birds
  • Secure the bluebirds’ safety from predators to keep them coming back

How to Attract Bluebirds to Mealworms

bluebirds feeding on mealworms on a porch railing

Mealworms are a favorite among bluebirds, and they can be offered live or dried. However, there are certain rules to feeding bluebirds that can make or break your success.

Below, we’ll discuss tips on using both types of mealworms and explore some additional feeding options for attracting these beautiful birds.

Read Also: How to Attract Bluebirds to Your Feeder

Use Live Mealworms

If you can, provide these wild birds with live mealworms, the most appealing food for bluebirds.

Why?

Because they closely resemble the insects bluebirds consume in the wild.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Bluebirds are attracted to the wriggly nature of living mealworms, spying them from their perches and swooping down to get a closer look.

If you’re intimidated to try live mealworms, know that it’s actually quite simple. To serve them, simply place them in a shallow dish or container, whether it’s a shallow bowl or a kitchen pan.

You can also buy bluebird feeders that cater to these little birds and put live mealworms in those, if you prefer.

Here are some more tips on feeding bluebirds live mealworms:

  • Be sure to provide a serving size that’s appropriate for the number of bluebirds you’re expecting.
  • During the spring, bluebirds need extra protein for nesting and raising their young, so you may want to increase the amount of live mealworms you offer.
  • For optimal results, consider serving live mealworms once or twice a day, especially in poor weather conditions when natural food sources might be scarce.
  • Don’t forget to add some calcium! To do this, you can coat the mealworms in calcium carbonate or calcium citrate powder by gently shaking them in a plastic bag.

Use Dried Mealworms, Too

If you want a low-cost and convenient option, dried mealworms will also attract bluebirds. Though they might not be as eye-catching as live mealworms, they still provide valuable nutrients, and bluebirds still love mealworms.

Plus, you can use other means to catch a bluebird’s attention, like placing mealworms near nesting sites for bluebirds, or by burbling bird fountains. Moving water is sure to pique their interest, and it’ll help guide them toward the mealworms.

  • To serve dried mealworms, put them in a specialized mealworm feeder or shallow container.
  • Additionally, using a bluebird-specific feeder can reduce competition with other birds and encourage bluebirds to visit daily.
  • Don’t forget to scatter some dried mealworms around fruit trees or dense vegetation, as bluebirds often forage in these areas for insects, larvae, and beetles.

Have Supplemental Feeding Options Handy

In addition to mealworms, bluebirds can benefit from other food sources.

Especially if you want to know how to attract bluebirds in winter, it’s important to realize that bluebirds rely on berries and other fruits for sustenance. So, plant native trees and shrubs like junipers, dogwoods, sumacs, hollies, serviceberries, and elderberries.

Beyond this, bluebirds are known to come to suet feeders. Suet, which is a high-energy food made from animal fat, can be a nutritious supplement to a bluebird’s diet, especially during colder weather when insects are scarce.

So, combining mealworms with suet has a high likelihood of bringing bluebirds to your feeders.

Read Next: Plants That Attract Bluebirds

Choosing the Right Bird Feeder for Bluebirds

bluebird sitting on a blue mealworm bird feeder

Types of Bluebird Feeders

There are several types of bluebird feeders available that you can use to feed them mealworms and attract them to your yard Some popular styles include tray feeders, post feeders, platform bird feeders, and suet feeders.

  1. Tray feeders are simple, flat surfaces that can be placed on a post or hung, allowing mealworms to be easily accessed by the bluebirds.
  2. Post feeders attach directly to a post, pole, fence, or wall and typically consist of a small cup or dish to hold the mealworms.
  3. Platform feeders are similar to tray feeders but are usually larger and provide a stable surface for bluebirds to comfortably eat from. No matter the style, be sure to select a feeder that is easy to clean and refill to keep bluebirds coming back for more.
  4. Don’t forget suet feeders too. Suet feeders come in various designs, but the point is that you can buy mealworm suet that will be a hit with the bluebirds and put it in a handy suet feeder.

How to Choose the Best Bluebird Feeder

Not sure how to pick the right bluebird feeder for mealworms? Here are some pro tips.

Look for:

  • Sturdy construction that can withstand weather conditions
  • Easy access to mealworms for the bluebirds
  • Adequate space for multiple birds to feed simultaneously
  • Feeder style that suits the intended location (post, pole, fence, or wall)
  • Blue feeders (optional)—because bluebirds are attracted to the color blue. While having a non-blue feeder won’t keep bluebirds away, it doesn’t hurt to opt for a blue birdfeeder, or to place blue elements around it, whether blue flowers from your garden or pieces of blue ribbon.

Choosing the Right Location

Selecting the right location to hang or install your bluebird feeder is a huge factor in successfully attracting these birds to your yard.

Bluebirds generally prefer open spaces with low or sparse vegetation, as these areas allow them to easily spot predators and insects.

Not only this, but placing the feeder near a water source such as a birdbath or pond can also help make the area even more attractive to bluebirds.

When deciding on the best location for your bluebird feeder, consider the following factors:

  • Safety from predators: Hang the feeder at least 5 feet off the ground, away from trees or structures that might be used by cats or other animals to access the feeder.
  • Visibility and access: Ensure there is a clear line of sight to the feeder from the surrounding area, making it easy for bluebirds to spot and approach it.
  • Weather protection: Ideally, the feeder should be placed in a sheltered spot that offers some protection from rain, wind, and direct sunlight.
  • Additionally, using a bluebird-specific feeder can reduce competition with other birds and encourage bluebirds to visit daily.

Creating a Bluebird-Friendly Yard

blueberry bush with berries ripening in the sun

Offering Food Sources

  • Attracting bluebirds to your yard involves providing them with their preferred diet. In terms of what bluebirds eat, they love insects and fruits.
  • As mentioned earlier, think about offering a combination of live mealworms and dried mealworms, which are favorites among bluebirds.
  • Additionally, you can also entice these birds by planting fruit-bearing trees and shrubs that produce berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, sumac, and holly.

Providing Water Sources

  • A key component to creating a bluebird-friendly yard is ensuring that there are ample water sources for them to drink and bathe.
  • One popular option is a bird bath, but you may also consider installing a heated birdbath to provide a year-round water source in colder climates.
  • Not only do birdbaths offer refreshment, but they also act as an important gathering point for a variety of backyard birds.
  • Be sure to clean and refill the water sources regularly, especially in freezing temperatures.

Creating Nesting Sites

  • Bluebirds are cavity nesters, which means that they typically prefer nesting sites in hollow trees or wooden structures.
  • Installing bluebird houses or nest boxes in your yard can encourage bluebirds to call your yard their home.
  • Select a suitable birdhouse or nesting box, ideally one that meets the guidelines of the North American Bluebird Society, and mount it on a pole or tree at the appropriate height.
  • Bluebirds prefer open spaces and are often found in meadows, parks, and along the edges of wooded areas. So nest boxes should be placed in an open area with low grass and nearby perches for the bluebirds to hunt insects.
  • Ensure that trees and shrubbery are properly spaced to accommodate their nesting preferences.
  • Avoid placing the nesting boxes too close to areas with a lot of foot traffic or densely wooded locations.
  • Providing multiple nesting boxes will increase the chances of attracting a pair of bluebirds.

Providing a proper nesting site will help attract bluebirds and encourage them to return year after year.

Read Also: How to Attract Bluebirds to Bluebird Houses

Safeguarding Bluebirds from Predators

cat walking outside in the grass

Bluebirds are beautiful creatures that can bring joy to many bird enthusiasts. Attracting them to mealworms can be highly effective, but protecting them from predators is also crucial.

Below, we will discuss some measures you can take to safeguard bluebirds from predators, focusing on protecting them from cats and other predators and dealing with house sparrows.

Protecting from Cats and Other Predators

It’s important to keep bluebirds safe from common predators like cats, raccoons, and squirrels.

Here are some strategies you can implement to protect your feathered friends:

  • Elevate feeders: Keep mealworm feeders off the ground and high enough to be out of reach for predators. Bluebirds usually prefer feeders at least 4-6 feet off the ground.
  • Use baffles: Baffles are cone- or dome-shaped barriers that you can install on feeder poles, preventing predators from climbing up to the feeder.
  • Provide shelter: Plant dense shrubbery or install birdhouses near your mealworm feeders, giving the bluebirds cover to escape from predators if necessary.
  • Predator guard: Consider installing a Bluebird Predator Guard on your birdhouse entrance hole; this metal grill can deter larger animals from harming the birds inside.

Dealing with House Sparrows

House sparrows can pose a threat to bluebirds as they may steal their food or take over nesting areas.

Read through this list of ways to manage house sparrow populations near your bluebird feeders:

  • Choose the right food: Bluebirds mostly feed on insects, while house sparrows prefer seeds. Offering mealworms instead of seeds can help discourage house sparrows from visiting your feeder.
  • Monitor feeder activity: Regularly check your mealworm feeder and take note of the bird species visiting. If house sparrows become too dominant, consider temporarily removing the feeder until they disperse.
  • Use selective birdhouses: When installing a bluebird house, make sure the entrance hole size is suitable for bluebirds but too small for house sparrows to enter. Bluebirds can fit through a 1.5-inch entrance hole, while house sparrows require a slightly larger opening.

Implementing these strategies will help keep bluebirds safe from predators and ensure that your efforts to attract them to mealworms are successful.

And remember, maintain a clean and healthy environment for the birds to thrive.

Importance of Mealworms for Bluebirds

  • Mealworms play a significant role in the diet of bluebirds. These birds are instinctually attracted to mealworms due to the high nutrition content they offer. Serving as a vital source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, mealworms provide bluebirds with a complete nutrition package.
  • One key advantage of mealworms is their sterility, meaning they do not carry parasites or human-related diseases. This ensures that bluebirds can safely consume them without any risk to their health.
  • In addition, mealworms are easy to maintain as a regular food source for bluebirds, making them a convenient choice for bird lovers who want to attract these beautiful creatures to their yards.
  • Besides providing important nutrients, mealworms are also a great source of moisture for bluebirds. This is particularly important during the winter months when access to water might be limited. By offering mealworms, you’re not only giving bluebirds a nutritious meal but also keeping them hydrated.
  • Adding calcium carbonate or calcium citrate to mealworms is another way to enhance their nutritional value for bluebirds, as calcium is crucial for the proper development of their bones, beaks, and eggshells. This can be achieved by simply dusting the mealworms with either of these calcium supplements before offering them to the birds.

Types of Bluebirds

Bluebirds are known for their vibrant colors and delightful melodies. Among these charming birds, there are three distinct species worth mentioning: the Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, and Western Bluebird.

Each species varies in its characteristics and can be found in different regions across North America.

Eastern Bluebird

eastern bluebird perched on a wooden surface

The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is the most widely recognized of the three species. With their bright blue plumage and reddish-orange breast, these birds are most commonly found in the eastern half of the United States, extending from Canada down to Mexico.

Eastern Bluebirds are known to inhabit open spaces, preferring a combination of woodlands, meadows, and farmlands.

Their diet primarily consists of insects, fruits, and berries, which make mealworms a suitable and attractive food source for them.

Mountain Bluebird

mountain bluebird on the tip of a branch

The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) is characterized by its stunning sky-blue coloration and can be found predominantly in the western regions of North America.

They prefer higher elevations, such as mountain meadows and open forests.

Similar to their Eastern counterparts, Mountain Bluebirds feed on insects, fruits, and berries, making mealworms a beneficial supplement to their diet.

Western Bluebird

western bluebird standing on the grass

The Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) is found in the western United States, Mexico, and parts of Canada. These birds display a combination of blue and rust-colored plumage, making them visually similar to the Eastern Bluebird.

Western Bluebirds prefer to inhabit open woodlands, especially those with oak and pine trees. Their diet also revolves around insects, fruits, and berries, so offering mealworms can be a great way to attract them to your backyard.

Offering mealworms to bluebirds can not only attract these lovely creatures to your backyard but also provide them with a nutritious food source. B

Being aware of the unique characteristics and habitat preferences of each bluebird species will help you create the perfect environment to attract and enjoy these beautiful birds.

Monitoring the Bluebird Population

Once bluebirds begin visiting your yard, you should monitor their activity. This will help ensure their ongoing success and provide valuable information for fellow bird enthusiasts.

  • Start by recording data about the bluebird pairs, their nests, and the number of fledglings. This can be done with simple tools such as a notebook or by using apps specifically designed for birdwatching.
  • Become familiar with the life cycle of bluebirds, from courtship to egg-laying, incubation, and fledging. This knowledge will help you better understand their needs and adapt your bird feeding practices accordingly.
  • Share your observations and data with organizations that study bluebird populations, such as the North American Bluebird Society. This collaboration will contribute to the collective knowledge of bluebirds, ensuring their long-term success.
  • Remember that providing mealworms for bluebirds is an important aspect of attracting them to your yard. By offering mealworms consistently and in the right quantities, you’ll be able to enjoy the presence of these beautiful birds while also supporting their population.

Additional Bluebird Information

Bluebird Diet and Foraging Habits

  • Bluebirds are mainly insectivores, meaning they mostly feed on insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and spiders.
  • In addition to insects, they also enjoy different types of fruits and berries, which they may share with other backyard birds like American Robins and thrushes.
  • Bluebirds often forage for food by perching on branches and observing the ground below. Once they spot an insect or other prey, they’ll swoop down to capture it.
  • To encourage their natural foraging behavior, it can be helpful to have a combination of open spaces and trees in your backyard.

Bluebird Song and Appearance

  • Bluebirds are well-known for their beautiful songs, which consist of a series of melodic notes with a pleasant tone. Their unique songs can help you identify their presence in your backyard, even if they’re not immediately visible.
  • Bluebirds are quite vocal and communicate with a variety of calls, so learning to recognize their different vocalizations can be both enjoyable and useful.
  • When it comes to appearance, bluebirds have a distinctive plumage that makes them easy to identify. Male bluebirds typically have a bright blue back and head, with a reddish-orange chest and white belly. Females have a slightly duller blue coloration on their back and a more muted orange on their chest.

Their attractive coloration, combined with their sweet songs, make bluebirds a favorite among many birdwatchers and backyard bird enthusiasts. By providing a suitable habitat and food sources like mealworms and suet, you can increase your chances of attracting these charming birds to your backyard.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to encourage bluebirds to visit your mealworm feeder?

To attract bluebirds to your mealworm feeder, provide a consistent supply of mealworms and place the feeder in an area with nearby perches.

Native plants and a water source can also help attract bluebirds to your yard.

Also, using a bluebird-specific feeder can take care of competition with other birds to a significant extent and encourage bluebirds to visit often, if not daily.

What type of mealworms do bluebirds prefer, live or dried?

Bluebirds are generally more attracted to live mealworms, as they resemble their natural prey and are more visually appealing.

However, dried mealworms can still be effective, especially due to their low cost and convenience. It ultimately depends on your personal preferences.

For more details on the pros and cons of feeding live and dried mealworms, you can check this guide.

Where is the best location to place a mealworm feeder for bluebirds?

The ideal location for a mealworm feeder is in an open area with nearby perching spots, such as trees or shrubs.

Try to avoid placing the feeder too close to windows to prevent collisions. Keeping the feeder at least 5 feet off the ground can also help protect the bluebirds from potential predators.

What colors are most effective in attracting bluebirds?

Bluebirds are attracted to the color blue, as it mimics their own vibrant plumage. Choosing blue elements, such as a blue feeder or blue accents in your garden, can help draw bluebirds to your yard.

However, be cautious of overly bright or reflective materials, as they can deter bluebirds.

How to combine a nesting box with a mealworm feeder to attract bluebirds?

To entice bluebirds to use a nesting box, you can place a mealworm feeder nearby. Providing a mix of food, shelter, and water creates a suitable habitat for bluebirds.

Make sure the nesting box is secure and placed in an appropriate location, such as on a tree trunk or a post about 5 to 10 feet above the ground.

Are there any concerns about feeding bluebirds too many mealworms?

There is a potential concern that bluebirds may become reliant on mealworms as their primary food source if they are provided in large quantities.

However, feeding bluebirds mealworms during nesting season or as a supplemental food source can be beneficial.

It’s crucial to maintain a balance and not overfeed, allowing bluebirds to continue foraging for insects and other natural food sources.

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