How to Attract Eastern Bluebirds: Proven Techniques and Tips

Attracting Eastern Bluebirds may seem daunting, but it can be done!

You just need to know which foods, habitat, and nesting sources they rely on and are most attracted to.

Here’s how to attract Eastern Bluebirds:

  • Create an attractive habitat with open spaces, low grass, and perches for bluebirds to hunt insects.
  • Offer mealworms and other key bluebird foods entice bluebirds to your yard.
  • Ensure safe and appropriate nesting sites and materials are available while protecting them from potential threats for a successful bluebird attraction.

How to Attract Eastern Bluebirds

eastern bluebird singing on a branch

Eastern Bluebirds are captivating songbirds found across North America, particularly east of the Rockies, ranging from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Known for their stunning royal blue feathers and red-brown chest, it’s easy to see why birders would want to attract them.

Here are the key elements to keep in mind when attempting to make your backyard a haven for Eastern Bluebirds:

  • Hunting needs: First and foremost, Eastern Bluebirds prefer open areas with low grass, allowing them to hunt insects with ease. Perches, such as dead trees or branches, also provide them with spots to rest while hunting for food.
  • Nesting needs: These are cavity-nesting birds, which means they build their nests inside cavities, such as tree holes or man-made nest boxes. Offering appropriate nesting boxes designed specifically for bluebirds can provide a safe and secure home for them. Constructed of rot-resistant wood like cedar, these boxes should be well-maintained and placed in appropriate locations to encourage bluebirds to settle in.
  • Access to food and water: Providing supplementary food options like mealworms can majorly contribute to attracting these birds. In addition, having clean water sources available for drinking and bathing, like bird baths or shallow ponds, helps create a suitable environment for Eastern Bluebirds.

Providing a favorable environment for Eastern Bluebirds is an attainable goal, as long as you remain diligent in offering the appropriate resources and maintaining the space.

Read Next: How to Attract Bluebirds to a Bluebird House

How to Create an Ideal Eastern Bluebird Habitat

bluebird flying into a blue bird house with a worm in its beak

Eastern bluebirds can bring beauty and natural charm to your backyard. If you want to attract them, then create the right habitat that meets their needs and preferences.

In this section, we’ll cover the open space requirements, backyard features, and planting native trees and shrubs to make your yard more inviting for these sweet little birds.

Open Space Requirements

  • As mentioned, bluebirds prefer open areas with low grass and perches where they can hunt insects. Large, clear spaces with minimal clutter will allow them to spot their prey more easily.
  • Ideally, provide at least half an acre of wide-open space as part of your backyard habitat.
  • For smaller yards, make sure to trim grass low and maintain an unobstructed view.

Backyard Features

  • Along with ample open space, including certain backyard features will make your habitat even more attractive to bluebirds. They are cavity-nesting birds, so providing a high-quality nesting box made of rot-resistant wood like cedar can boost your success rate.
  • Place the nesting box on a pole or post so it’s easy for them to access while being safe from predators.
  • Water is also vital for bluebirds, as they need to drink and bathe regularly. A birdbath with moving water from a bubbler or fountain will attract their attention and provide a place for them to hydrate and clean their feathers.

Planting Native Trees and Shrubs

  • Planting native trees and shrubs in your bluebird habitat will offer food, shelter, and nesting sites that cater to their specific needs. Plant native species like red cedar, dogwood, holly, sumac, and elderberry. These plants provide berries during the non-breeding season and attract insects that bluebirds feed on.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is keeping some dead trees standing, when safe to do so. Just be sure to prune dead trees and limbs to ensure a safe environment for everyone. You may not realize it, but dead trees give bluebirds and other cavity-nesting bird species critical nesting and roosting areas.

Using these recommendations, you can create the perfect habitat to attract Eastern bluebirds to your yard and enjoy their company all year long.

Recommended Reading: What Plants Attract Bluebirds?

Food Sources to Attract Eastern Bluebirds

bluebird with mealworms in its beak on a mossy log

Let’s dive into food sources that will help attract these delightful birds to your yard.

Read Next: What Do Bluebirds Eat?

Insects for Feeding

Bluebirds primarily feed on insects, particularly during the warmer months. Some of their favorite insects include:

  • Ants
  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Caterpillars
  • Spiders
  • Moths

Having a yard with a plentiful insect population will naturally draw in bluebirds, so consider adding plants that attract these insects, such as native wildflowers and shrubs.

Eastern Bluebird Feeder Options

While Eastern Bluebirds typically eat insects and fruits in their natural habitat, it’s smart to add in bird feeders specifically for them with additional food sources.

Eastern Bluebirds prefer platform bird feeders, tray feeders, and suet feeders, typically.

As for what to put in your bluebird feeders, here’s what draws their attention the most:

  • Mealworms: Bluebirds love mealworms, especially live ones. Offering mealworms in a tray or platform feeder will attract them to your yard. Dried mealworms are also suitable, particularly when live mealworms may not be available. If you want to know how to attract bluebirds to mealworms best, read this article we wrote on the subject.
  • Suet: Although not their primary food source, bluebirds will eat suet during colder months when insects and fruit may be scarce. You can find suet cakes tailored for bluebirds at various bird supply stores.
  • Peanut butter: In moderation, bluebirds may also enjoy peanut butter. To offer this treat, place it right on a platform feeder, put it in suet or mix peanut butter with cornmeal muffins on a platform feeder.
  • Other foods you might want to try including in the offerings are berries, softed (rehydrated) dried currants and raisins and cranberries, chunked fresh apples and pears, and sunflower chips in the winter especially.
  • You may even try adding crushed up eggshells mixed in with suet or other bluebird foods as they’re known to sometimes target these for their dietary needs.

Related Reading: How to Attract Bluebirds to Feeders

Fruits and Berries

In the colder months, Eastern Bluebirds rely more on fruits and berries for sustenance. So if you plant fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, you can make your yard more attractive to them.

Some of their favorite fruits and berries include:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Currants
  • Cherries
  • Virginia creeper berries

These plants not only provide a food source for these birds, but they also contribute to a beautiful and diverse landscape in your yard.

The moral of the story is, if you put out a variety of food sources for Eastern Bluebirds, both natural and in bird feeders, you’ll create an irresistible landscape for them to visit and thrive in your yard.

Remember to maintain a clean and safe feeding area to ensure the health and happiness of your bluebird visitors.

Providing Water for Eastern Bluebirds

wet eastern bluebird in a bird bath

Eastern Bluebirds, like all other birds, require clean and fresh water for drinking and bathing. Ensuring a sufficient water source in your backyard will make it more attractive for these beautiful birds.


Setting up a birdbath is an easy way to provide clean water for Eastern Bluebirds.

Choose a low, wide basin with a depth of one to two inches for the water. This depth is ideal for these birds to drink and bathe in.

It’s also important to change the water in the birdbath at least every one to two days to maintain cleanliness.

In short:

  • Make sure the birdbath is kept clean.
  • Choose a basin with a depth of one to two inches.
  • Change the water regularly, at least every one to two days.

Moving Water Features

Adding a moving water feature such as a fountain or bubbler, will make the water source even more enticing for Eastern Bluebirds. The splashing noises and glittering sparkles will quickly capture their attention.

Bluebirds are particularly attracted to moving water, so including a fountain or bubbler in your backyard can significantly increase the likelihood of attracting these charming birds.

Just be sure to pay attention to the cleanliness and water depth, just as with a birdbath.

By providing Eastern Bluebirds with proper drinking and bathing water sources, you can transform your backyard into a comfortable and alluring environment for them.

Eastern Bluebird Nesting Tips

female eastern bluebird with grass in her beak for nesting materials

Cavity Nesting Factors

  • As Eastern Bluebirds are cavity-nesting birds, they look for sheltered spaces to build their nests and raise their young.
  • Key elements of a good nesting site include protection from predators and weather as well as easy access to food sources.
  • Open fields and gardens with nearby perches provide ideal foraging opportunities for these birds.

Nest Box Tips

  • To attract Eastern Bluebirds to your garden, consider installing a bluebird-approved nesting box.
  • The nest box should be placed 150 to 180 cm (5 to 6 ft) above the ground and face away from prevailing winds.
  • It’s important to use rot-resistant wood, such as cedar, for construction.
  • Additionally, monitor the birdhouse to discourage house sparrows and European starlings, which can compete with bluebirds for nesting spots and may even harm them.

Natural Nesting Sites

  • If setting up a nest box is not an option, you can still provide natural nesting sites in your garden by preserving mature trees and dead wood. These natural cavities offer shelter and attract bluebirds.
  • To further entice them, place perches such as branches and fence posts in the vicinity.

Nesting Material Choices

  • Eastern Bluebirds prefer specific materials when building their nests. Offering nesting materials such as pine needles and cotton scraps can increase the chances of bluebirds selecting your birdhouse or natural nesting site.
  • Make sure to clean birdhouses after each brood leaves, as this encourages additional nesting attempts.

Protecting Bluebirds from Potential Threats

Protecting bluebirds from potential threats will help ensure their safety and survival.

In this section, we will cover measures to protect bluebirds from predators and pests, deal with unwanted birds, and prevent disturbances.

Predators and Pests

As do other small birds, Eastern Bluebirds face many predators including but not limited to cats, dogs, and other predatory birds like the American robin, European starlings, and tree swallows.

To keep bluebirds safe, follow these guidelines:

  • Install stovepipe baffles on nesting boxes to prevent predators from reaching the nest.
  • Keep domestic pets indoors or supervised when outside.
  • Use appropriate pest control methods to minimize pesticide use and avoid harming bluebirds.

Dealing with Unwanted Birds

House sparrows and starlings can be aggressive competitors for bluebird nesting locations. To discourage their presence and ensure a safe environment for bluebirds, try these tips:

  • Install bluebird nesting boxes with smaller entrance holes, ideally 1.5 inches in diameter, which discourages larger unwanted birds.
  • If you observe house sparrows or starlings trying to enter a bluebird nesting box, remove their nests or use bird-specific deterrents.

Preventing Disturbance

Bluebirds are sensitive to disturbances in their environment. To promote a suitable habitat for bluebirds and support their well-being, implement these strategies:

  • Avoid unnecessary disturbances near the nesting boxes during the breeding season.
  • Place nesting boxes in open spaces at least 100 feet apart to prevent territorial conflicts.
  • Plant bluebird-friendly plants and shrubs to offer natural protection.

Attracting Bluebirds in Different Seasons

eastern bluebird on a branch in winter

Attracting eastern bluebirds throughout the year requires some adjustments to your approach depending on the season.

Winter Bluebird Considerations

  • During the winter months, one of the most important factors to consider is offering a source of clean, unfrozen water. You can use a heated birdbath or add a heating element to your existing one, making it more enticing for bluebirds and other birds.
  • In winter, bluebirds also need additional calories to stay warm and maintain their energy levels. You can help by increasing the availability of high-energy food options such as mealworms, suet, and berries. Spread these foods across your yard to make them more accessible to bluebirds.
  • A good shelter is also necessary during winter to protect bluebirds from harsh weather conditions. Offering roosting boxes or tree cavities can provide a safe and warm place for them to rest.

Read Also: How to Attract Bluebirds in the Winter

Non-Breeding Season Approaches

  • In the non-breeding season, bluebirds mainly feed on insects and invertebrates, so you’ll need to maintain a chemical-free yard to ensure a healthy population of insects for them to feed on. Avoid using pesticides or herbicides, and opt for natural pest control methods instead.
  • Providing a good nesting environment is crucial in the non-breeding season, too. Bluebirds prefer nesting boxes be placed in areas with open space and some tree coverage. Make sure to clean and maintain the boxes, which can be crucial in attracting bluebirds.
  • Lastly, designing a habitat with a variety of native plants, flowers, and shrubs can offer food and nesting materials for bluebirds. Some preferred plants include serviceberry, dogwood, and elderberry, which can provide additional sources of insects and berries.

By taking these season-specific approaches, you can effectively attract and support bluebirds year-round.

Final Thoughts

Attracting Eastern Bluebirds to your yard may not be an immediate success. It requires some patience, effort, and a solid understanding of their preferences.

These charming little birds will be more likely to grace your yard if you’re persistent and provide the right environment for them.

Even after offering mealworms and fruits, proper nesting accommodations, and a clean and reliable water source, it may take some time for them to find and explore the area, so patience is crucial.

And if you love bluebirds, it’s worth the wait.

Frequently Asked Questions

What food should I provide to entice Eastern Bluebirds?

Eastern Bluebirds enjoy a variety of foods.

Some of their favorites include mealworms, berries (like raspberries and blackberries), suet with peanut butter, fruit, and sunflower bits, fresh fruit (such as apples, pears, raisins, currants, blueberries, and cranberries), and broken up eggshells ^(source).

How can I make my bluebird nesting box more appealing?

To attract Eastern Bluebirds, install a bluebird-approved nesting box. Ensure it has the right dimensions, proper ventilation, and a safe entrance hole.

Place the nesting box in an open area with low grass, making sure to monitor and maintain it throughout the season.

Which plants are best to attract Eastern Bluebirds?

Planting native trees and shrubs is an excellent way to attract bluebirds.

Choose species that provide natural food sources, like insects, and produce berries for the birds to eat. Some options include dogwood, serviceberry, and sumac ^(source).

Are there specific colors that would attract Eastern Bluebirds?

There isn’t any scientific evidence to suggest that Eastern Bluebirds are attracted to specific colors.

Nonetheless, selecting natural-looking, non-reflective materials or colors for birdhouses and feeders may help create a comfortable environment for the birds.

How can I attract bluebirds during the winter season?

In winter, food sources may become scarce for Eastern Bluebirds.

Providing suet with peanut butter, dough, fruit, and sunflower bits, as well as fresh, unfrozen water can help entice them to visit your yard during colder months ^(source).

Do Eastern Bluebirds prefer certain types of birdhouses?

Eastern Bluebirds prefer nesting boxes designed specifically for their needs. The birdhouse should have the correct dimensions, proper ventilation, and an entrance hole with a predator guard.

Ideal nesting boxes for Eastern Bluebirds are typically made from weather-resistant materials and placed in an open area with low grass ^(source).

Video Tips on Attracting Eastern Bluebirds

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