If you’re wondering about plants that attract bluebirds, you’re in the right place.
This article is going to tell you which specific native plants provide food for bluebirds, like berries and other fruits, that can make your backyard a favorable environment for their nesting and foraging.
Let’s get into it!
- Planting native plants that provide food for bluebirds creates an attractive habitat.
- Offer resources like shelter and nesting sites to support bluebird populations.
- Consider the natural diet and preferences of bluebirds when designing your backyard environment.
Plants That Attract Bluebirds
As it happens, berry-producing bushes are a favorite for bluebirds due to the variety of fruits they offer.
They’re also relatively straightforward to grow in your yard, although you’ll want to check local varieties against your soil, sun, and environmental conditions for them.
Let’s take a look at some specific berry bushes to grow.
- Bayberry: Northern bayberries are a great food source for bluebirds, especially during the fall and winter.
- Currant: These bushes are full of tasty berries that can help attract bluebirds to your yard.
- Highbush Blueberry: Bluebirds enjoy snacking on the fruits of the highbush blueberry, making it an excellent addition to your garden.
- Red Raspberry: The fruits of the red raspberry bush are a favorite among bluebirds and will ensure their frequent visits.
Don’t forget to also include well-known favorites, such as:
- American elderberries
Trees for Bluebird Nesting
Trees provide critical shelter and nesting areas for bluebirds, so don’t overlook this important aspect of your yard setup.
If you’re interested in planting trees for bluebirds, some ideal options are:
- Dogwood: Known for their attractive flowers, dogwood trees are a top choice for attracting bluebirds due to their berries that provide an abundant food source.
- Juniper: The juniper tree’s flavorful and nutritious berries are a favorite snack for bluebirds.
- Cedar: Besides offering shelter, cedar trees produce berries that bluebirds eagerly consume.
Read Next: How to Attract Bluebirds to Bluebird House
Shrubs for Food and Shelter
Besides trees, shrubs play a vital role in providing both food and shelter for bluebirds.
Consider including these types in your garden:
- Elderberry: These shrubs are known for their American elderberries, which are a popular food choice among bluebirds.
- Sumac: With their dense growth and red fruits, sumac shrubs provide a food source and shelter for bluebirds during the colder months.
While not as common, vines can also attract bluebirds by offering fruits and shelter.
- Virginia Creeper: The attractive Virginia creeper vine produces small berries that bluebirds enjoy and provide additional nesting spaces.
Placing these trees, shrubs, vines, and berry bushes in your yard’s landscape will significantly increase the likelihood of attracting and supporting bluebirds throughout the year.
Fundamentals of Attracting Bluebirds
Attracting bluebirds to your yard can be a gratifying experience, as these vibrant, insect-eating birds add beauty and personality to your landscape.
To attract any bluebird species to your yard, several key factors should be considered:
- Food Sources: Bluebirds are first and foremost insect eaters, with berries making up a smaller percentage of their diet in the wild. To cater to bluebirds, feed them mealworms, suet, and berries.
- Birdhouses: Installing nest boxes or birdhouses tailored specifically to bluebirds can encourage them to settle in your area. The ideal birdhouse has an opening 1.5 inches in diameter, which helps prevent larger, competing species from using the house.
- Plant Choices: Bluebirds are attracted to certain plants that provide food, such as fruits and berries. As mentioned earlier, common plants that attract bluebirds include red raspberry, highbush blueberry, highbush cranberry, northern bayberry, red chokeberry, American elderberry, and Virginia creeper.
- Open Space and Perches: All three bluebird species enjoy open areas with low grass, as this allows them to hunt insects more efficiently. Providing natural perches, such as sturdy branches or wooden poles, can also make your yard more inviting for bluebirds.
- Dead Trees: When it’s safe to do so, leaving dead trees or dead limbs on live trees can provide important nesting and roosting sites for bluebirds and other cavity-nesting birds.
If you factor in the above elements and make a few adjustments in your yard, you can create an excellent environment to attract and enjoy these cheery birds.
Read Also: Attracting Bluebirds to Mealworms
How to Create a Bluebird-Friendly Habitat
- To begin with, focus on maintaining open spaces.
- These birds thrive in areas with short grass, as it helps them locate and catch insects more easily.
- Additionally, open spaces with some mature trees and low vegetation provide an ideal habitat for bluebirds.
- These areas also tend to deter house sparrows and tree swallows, which compete with bluebirds for resources.
- Bluebirds, like all other birds, need water for drinking and bathing.
- So, adding a birdbath or a small pond in your garden can significantly increase your chances of attracting these elegant birds.
- To make the water even more attractive, consider adding a feature that creates moving water, such as a small fountain or circulating pump. Bluebirds are drawn to the sound of flowing water, and the movement helps prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the water.
Shelter and Perches
Providing shelter and perches is another vital aspect of creating a bluebird-friendly habitat. Bluebirds appreciate natural or artificial perches, where they can rest, observe their surroundings, and hunt for insects.
Suitable perches include:
- Branches of mature trees
- Tall shrubs
- Fence posts
- Garden trellises
In addition to perches, bluebirds will appreciate some shelter from predators and harsh weather. Dense shrubs, trees, or even an artificial roosting box can offer the safety they need.
Lastly, offering suitable nesting sites is crucial for attracting bluebirds. These birds are cavity-nesters, which means they require natural cavities or nest boxes to lay their eggs and raise their young.
To create an ideal setup for bluebirds, place nest boxes throughout your garden.
Be sure to select a design specifically created for bluebirds, as this will discourage other species, like house sparrows and nuthatches, from taking over the nesting sites.
Also, when setting up nest boxes, consider these tips:
- Place the boxes at least 5-6 feet above the ground.
- Face the boxes towards an open space.
- Space multiple boxes at least 100 yards apart to prevent territorial disputes.
- Use natural materials, such as pine needles, for nesting material.
- Key Food Sources for Bluebirds
If you know the bluebird’s preferred diet, you can easily get them visiting your bird feeders.
Insects are a primary part of the bluebirds’ diet, making up a significant portion of their nutritional needs. Some of the most common insects bluebirds enjoy are caterpillars, crickets, and grasshoppers.
- To attract bluebirds with insects, you can offer live mealworms or dried mealworms in a feeder specifically designed for them. These are an excellent supplement and are especially beneficial late summer, when their natural insect prey may become scarce.
- Providing a fresh water source, like a birdbath or shallow pond, can also make your yard more attractive to insects and thus bluebirds.
- To boot, maintaining a pesticide-free garden will enable a healthy ecosystem of insects that bluebirds can hunt.
Read Also: How to Attract Bluebirds to Bird Feeders
Fruit is another vital food source for bluebirds, with many berry bushes and trees serving as natural attractions.
Some popular berry-producing plants include:
- Red raspberry
- Highbush blueberry
- Highbush cranberry
- Northern bayberry
- Red chokeberry
- American elderberry
- Virginia creeper
During the fall and winter months, when insects are scarce, bluebirds rely heavily on fruit sources for nutrition.
Planting native berry bushes and trees throughout your yard helps create a sustainable food source for them, and ensures that they’ll have ample nourishment throughout the year.
Providing and Maintaining Nesting Sites
Bluebirds are attracted to yards that have proper nesting sites, including places for them to nest and roost.
To encourage their presence, consider providing a variety of appealing options.
- Nest boxes are one of the most effective ways to attract bluebirds, as they are secondary cavity nesters. They prefer to build their nests inside existing holes or cavities in trees.
- Wooden birdhouses designed specifically for bluebirds can be placed around your yard to provide them with suitable nesting spots.
- Position the nest boxes away from high-traffic areas and house sparrows, ensuring they offer a safe haven for bluebirds.
- In addition to nesting sites, bluebirds also need safe and comfortable roosting sites during non-breeding seasons.
- Roosting boxes are designed to provide shelter for bluebirds and other small birds from harsh weather, like cold temperatures or rain.
- Set up roosting boxes in locations similar to where you would place nesting boxes.
- Preserving dead trees in your yard, when safe to do so, can also benefit bluebirds.
- Dead trees often contain existing cavities that bluebirds seek for nesting and roosting.
- Also, dead limbs on live trees can provide natural perches for bluebirds to hunt for insects.
- Proper maintenance of nesting and roosting sites is crucial to keep bluebirds coming back.
- Regular cleaning of nest boxes, ensuring no debris or old nests are present, will entice bluebirds to use them.
- Monitor the sites for potential predators or competitors, and take action to protect these areas if necessary.
Protecting Bluebirds from Predators
- Predator guards play a crucial role in keeping bluebirds safe from predators like raccoons and snakes.
- These defensive measures typically extend the entrance hole of the birdhouse, creating a barrier that keeps predators at bay.
- With a predator guard, backyard birders can increase the overall safety of their bluebird houses.
- If you want to get a predator guard, make sure it’s constructed from durable materials that can withstand harsh weather conditions and resist insect damage, such as premium cedar with a water-based protective stain.
Properly Mounting Birdhouses
Mounting birdhouses on posts or poles can help keep them out of reach from some predators.
Here are some tips on properly mounting birdhouses:
- Place the birdhouse on a sturdy pole or post that can support its weight.
- Position the birdhouse at least 5-10 feet above the ground to keep it out of reach of many ground-dwelling predators.
- Avoid attaching the birdhouse to trees, as this can make it easier for climbing predators like raccoons or snakes to access the nest.
- Consider using a baffle on the pole, which is a cone-shaped or cylindrical device that can prevent climbing predators from reaching the birdhouse.
Roaming Cats Control
Roaming cats pose a significant threat to bluebirds and other backyard songbirds. Therefore, controlling them is critical for keeping bluebirds safe in your yard.
Here are some suggestions for managing the presence of roaming cats:
- Encourage your neighbors to keep their cats indoors or within a designated outdoor enclosure.
- If you own a cat, ensure it has a collar with a bell that alerts birds to its presence.
- Use fencing or other barriers to limit cats’ access to your yard and birdhouses.
Additional Tips for Attracting Bluebirds
Aside from plants, there are various strategies you can use to attract bluebirds to your yard. These tips can greatly improve your chances of inviting these beautiful thrushes in.
Let’s dive into some key factors to create a bluebird-friendly environment.
- It’s crucial to avoid using pesticides in your yard. Bluebirds primarily feed on insects, and pesticides can inadvertently reduce their food supply.
- Moreover, chemicals found in pesticides can be harmful to birds, weakening their immune systems and making them more susceptible to disease.
- Instead, opt for natural pest control methods such as attracting beneficial insects, using diatomaceous earth, or applying neem oil.
Offer Multiple Food Options
- Bluebirds have a diverse diet, so consider providing multiple food sources. While they mostly feed on insects, bluebirds enjoy a variety of fruits and berries.
- You can plant native trees and shrubs like junipers, dogwoods, sumacs, hollies, serviceberries, and elderberries to appeal to their taste buds.
- Of course, you can also set up bird feeders to supplement their diet. Some good options include bluebird feeders, platform feeders, and suet feeders.
- Offer them suet, mealworms, or chopped fruits to entice them to your feeders.
And keep in mind that bluebirds may not immediately approach the feeder, so be patient and persistent.
Provide Nesting Material
- Bluebirds are cavity-nesting birds, and they appreciate a comfortable home. You can install bluebird houses made of natural materials like cedar, ensuring that they have an opening of 1.5 inches in diameter.
- Aside from birdhouses, you can also provide nesting materials such as cotton scraps or dried grass to encourage them to build their nests in your yard.
Different Bluebird Species
There are three main species of bluebirds you might encounter: the Eastern Bluebird, Western Bluebird, and Mountain Bluebird.
- Eastern Bluebird: Found throughout the eastern United States and parts of Canada, the Eastern Bluebird is known for its bright blue back and rusty red chest. They prefer open areas with low grass, so that they can easily hunt for insects.
- Western Bluebird: Seen in the western United States, this species also has a blue back, but its chest is more of an orange color. The Western Bluebird has similar habitat preferences as the Eastern Bluebird, typically seeking out open spaces and areas with low grass.
- Mountain Bluebird: Often found at higher elevations, the Mountain Bluebird has a lighter blue color, with a slightly greenish tinge. This species also enjoys open habitats but tends to prefer higher altitude locations.
Attracting Other Migratory Birds of Same Genus
Attracting other migratory birds, such as American Robins, Chickadees, and various Bluebirds, including Eastern, Mountain, and Western Bluebirds can be a great way to enrich your backyard birdwatching experience.
To attract these birds, you can use similar strategies you would use for attracting Bluebirds.
- First, provide natural foods that these birds enjoy. For example, American Robins are fond of various fruits like mulberries, holly berries, and dogwood fruit, while Bluebirds prefer fruits from plants such as red raspberry, highbush blueberry, highbush cranberry, northern bayberry, red chokeberry, American elderberry, and Virginia creeper. Chickadees commonly eat seeds and insect larvae.
- Adding a few different birdhouses or nesting boxes to your backyard can also help attract a variety of birds. Each species has specific preferences, so you’ll want to research their nesting habits. For example, Eastern and Western Bluebirds often prefer open areas, while Mountain Bluebirds might be more comfortable near trees and shrubs. Make sure to put up birdhouses at appropriate heights and with the correct hole size for each species.
- Water sources like birdbaths are absolutely vital to all birds, including American Robins, Chickadees, and the different Bluebird species. Providing a clean, shallow water source can encourage these bird species to visit your yard.
- Additionally, maintaining a diverse landscape can attract a wider variety of birds. American Robins, for example, often forage in open areas but prefer to nest in trees. On the other hand, Eastern Bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds, and Western Bluebirds will frequent areas with a mix of open spaces and trees or shrubs for perching.
- Finally, ensuring that your backyard habitat is safe from predators and human disturbances can go a long way in attracting migratory birds of the same genus. Discreetly placed birdhouses or nesting boxes, and easy access to natural food sources are key factors that will make your backyard an inviting space for these fascinating birds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What flowers do bluebirds prefer?
Bluebirds are primarily insectivores and tend to prefer plants that provide both shelter and an abundant insect food source.
While they don’t directly favor specific flowers, they are attracted to the insects that some flowering plants tend to attract.
Choosing native plants and flowers that naturally attract insects will indirectly make your garden more appealing to bluebirds.
Which native plants are favored by bluebirds?
There are several native plant species that are known to attract bluebirds.
Some of these include the red raspberry, highbush blueberry, highbush cranberry, northern bayberry, red chokeberry, American elderberry, and Virginia creeper. These plants produce fruits that bluebirds enjoy eating, particularly during the fall and winter when insects are scarce.
What are the best methods for attracting bluebirds?
To attract bluebirds to your yard, consider the following strategies:
- Install birdhouses specifically designed for bluebirds
- Provide a clean, fresh water source like a birdbath
- Grow plants and trees that attract bluebirds, such as those mentioned above
- Leave dead trees in your yard when safe to do so, as they provide valuable nesting and roosting sites
What kind of food can entice bluebirds to visit?
One food option that can attract bluebirds is mealworms, which are the larvae of mealworm beetles.
Bluebirds love to dine on these insects, so providing them can help make your yard an attractive feeding spot.
Which plants are most suitable for bluebirds in various regions?
Selecting plants native to your region will yield the best results in attracting bluebirds.
Research your local area’s native plant species and consult with experts or local gardening centers for advice on the best plants to use in your specific region.
What plants promote coexistence between bluebirds and other species?
Choosing a diverse range of native plants can help support not only bluebirds, but also other bird and wildlife species.
Planting berry-producing shrubs and trees like flowering dogwood, foster holly, and eastern red cedar can provide food for bluebirds and other songbirds.
As well, creating multi-layered habitats with a mixture of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants can provide shelter and nesting options for various bird species, fostering coexistence within your garden’s ecosystem.