Table For Three: Bluebirds “Doing Lunch”

With this bitter cold weather we’ve been having, I’ve started buying mealworms again for my backyard birds. They are a bit pricey at $13 for 1,000 worms from my local birding store, so I decided to order some online from Rainbow Mealworms where you get 5,000 for $20 + shipping.

When they arrive and you open the box, this is what you find.

Mealworms for Bluebirds

 

The bag is filled with crumpled up newspaper with live mealworms all mixed in.

Mealworms for birds

 

This is 5,000 mealworms.

Mealworms

 

Rainbow also sells “mealworm bran/bedding” that you can place your mealworms in. I used to mix up my own based on a recipe I found online, but the last time I ordered, I ordered the bran bedding as well. I placed the bran along with the mealworms in a large, rectangular plastic container.

Mealworms can’t crawl up the sides of a container so they are safe to store in a refrigerator at around 38 degrees with the lid slightly ajar so they can get air. The reason you need to store them in the refrigerator is so they will stay in a dormant state and not turn into beetles.

About once a week I take the mealworms out of the refrigerator and leave them out for a few hours so they can eat. I also add a few slices of apple or carrots to the bran at that time. Usually 5,000 mealworms will last around 3-4 weeks, kept in the fridge.

Mealworms for Bluebirds

 

My birds have me well-trained! They LOVE their mealworms, so I’m putting them out 3-5 times a day. The bluebirds are always the very first to arrive when I put them out. They must sit in the trees and wait because I barely get back inside the house before they fly down to the feeder and start chowing down.

It’s so funny watching the other birds try to get in there and grab one while the bluebirds are eating. Eventually, the bluebirds get their fill and leave and the Tufted Titmouses, Chickadees, Mockingbirds, Wrens and House Finches help themselves to the filet mignon on the bird buffet.

I snapped a few pictures in rapid succession right after putting out mealworms today. I was shooting through the glass of my bay window. Here’s a little 20 second slide show of the bluebirds enjoying the mealworms on this freezing February day.

Keep your eye on the little bird on the left. I wonder if she’s the Mom because as soon as she ate a few worms, the other two that had been watching started eating, too. Pssst: Click the little bracket box in the right corner next to words “You Tube” to watch full screen. Click the little half circle in the left corner to replay. Hit “escape” when done.

 

See bluebirds feeding mealworms to their babies in this post: Bluebirds Feeding Mealworms To Their Babies

Bluebirds Feeding Babies in Dovecote




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Comments

  1. Nancy of Lake Stevens says:

    By far the cutest tablescape you have ever done.;)

  2. You have such a tender heart for wild life. We keep Mr. Mendelson in the house most of the time, but every so often he wants to wander around a little and goes out side, but he’s “knocking” pretty soon. In KC they are enacting a law that all pets must be put inside or have a house that is warmed. I guess a dog went into labor and labored 12 hours and lost all her puppy’s. Why have a pet if you don’t take care of it?

    My pastor emailed me with this–This winter is like an unwanted guest, It just won’t leave. We will really love those warm days when we can get outside.

    Thanks for taking such good care of the birds.

    • I LOVE that! It’s sad that KC or any state has to enact a law but thank goodness they are doing it. I wish all states had that law! I don’t see how anyone could go to sleep at night and leave their animals outside in the freezing cold. Same for the daytime!

  3. Mary from Virginia says:

    Those darn squirrels would be front and center if I had an open feeder. Lucky you to attract such beauties!

    Love your video!

    • Ha! Well, the worms are gone so quickly, the squirrels would never get any. Do squirrels eat worms? I was thinking they just ate nuts and such, but I’m not sure. I have been putting some seed in that little rail feeder too and I have a few squirrels who come around and eat the seed, but not that many. All my bird feeders are squirrel resistant so they seemed to have given up trying to raid them.

  4. You are a dedicated and generous bird fan! Kudos to you for taking care of these little birdies during the winter. Beautiful tablescape, Susan!

  5. Do squirrels want the mealworms too ? I’ve had too many squirrel problems to invite them back.

    • Winnie, I just googled that because I wasn’t sure and it looks like they do, but the thing is, the birds gobble them down so fast, they aren’t around long enough for a squirrel to get any. The birds learn very quickly that when they see you come out, it’s mealworm time! They are on them the second you go back inside, at least my birds are. So I don’t think the squirrels would ever get any…mine never do.

  6. Peggy Thal says:

    Such a great idea! Thanks for all the information. You sure have a lot of birds loving you. I have my Charlie Bird . I bet he would love those worms too.

  7. Renee Cook says:

    I love feeding the birds and enjoyed your informative post. I’ve never thought of using mealworms, but maybe that’s why I don’t have bluebirds at my feeders. I have a good variety of other birds though, and use safflower seed for them. I like using safflower seed because the squirrels DON’T like it and leave it alone. I also keep a couple of finch feeders filled with thistle and it seems like I’ve had more goldfinches than usual this year. Isn’t it rewarding to know we’re helping these beautiful little creatures… I learned a lot from your post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Renee! I just learned something a week ago that I never knew. I asked the guys at my birding store this past week why I see the bluebirds going from opening to opening on my feeders. They are obviously looking for something that’s hard to find in the seed I put out. The seed I use is Wild Bird’s Unlimited, Choice Blend and is composed of: black oil sunflower, sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, safflower and striped sunflower seeds.
      They told me at the store that bluebirds can’t crack open the big striped sunflower seeds. Their beaks aren’t the right kind for that. So he said they are probably look for the sunflower chip and peanuts. So, last time I was in the store, I purchased a bag of their “no-mess sunflower seed” which is the sunflower seed that’s already shelled. It’s expensive but you aren’t paying for shells, it’s all seed. I’ve been mixing that into the regular Choice Blend seed. He also said the a safflower seed is even harder than a sunflower seed, so bluebirds can’t eat those either. I’m just learning all this now.
      I love Goldfinches…they are soooo beautiful! 🙂

      • I did not know that safflower seed is one of the hardest to open and neither did I know that about a bluebird’s beak. I can see why all birds would love your Choice Blend and the No-mess Sunflower Seed. It’s so much fun to learn these things!

  8. Thank you for taking such good care of your beautiful Bluebirds!! I have them show up at my feeder every day also. They are such little pigs. Mine like to shelled sunflower seeds. I have a feeder right on my deck so,I can watch from my kitchen window. It was only up to around 15 degrees today after a low of zero last night. Hopefully we will soon have some warmer weather here.

    • They do love those shelled sunflower seeds! I just learned this past week that they can’t crack open a sunflower seed very well…so I’ve started mixing in the shelled ones. I may end up putting a feeder out with just shelled sunflower seeds since they love that so much. The birding store told me they also love chipped up peanuts. I’ve noticed them trying to cling and hang onto the suet feeders I have hanging from the pergola, so I took one of my suet cakes and broke it up into pieces, placed in a plastic container and tied it to a little hibiscus tree growing on the deck. They are seriously going for the suet now that they can’t just sit on the side of the dish to eat it.

  9. I LOVE bluebirds. I am in MD so they aren’t here right now. I have fed dried mealworms. Do you think that works as well as the live ones? Probably not. Any advice? Love your posts!

    • Thanks so much, Janet! I’ve seen the dried ones and was tempted to try them but I read somewhere that the birds don’t go for them like they do the fresh worms. The fresh worms really are easy to keep so I don’t mind feeding those.

  10. Susan, you are a great “Ranger Rick”. I will leave some pecans on the ground for the Mr. Squirrel & his friends & birdseed for the beautiful little birds, but I draw the line at mealyworms. I really am scared of creepy crawlers. The little feeder is darling. Maybe I need to add a wrought iron rail to my front porch.
    Your former post tickled me. Perhaps Momma bluebirds eat first to ensure the food is safe for their babies. All of the other birds, titmouse, etc., except the mockingbird, that you mentioned are on Lenox Winter Greetings Fine China. My Christmas China is Winter Greetings Green Band which is different with just the red cardinal, but it can be interchangeable. There is yet a third Winter Greetings, which is more of a stoneware with a deep yellow background. They are all beautiful and designed by artist Catherine
    McClung, but it does get confusing when looking for additional pieces. Believe it or not, snow is predicted for Tuesday here in central Louisiana.
    I live with my Mother in our family home (a 1962 brick ranch) which has been maintained well, but probably needs updated insulation. Brr, it gets cold.

  11. Laura Marec says:

    God bless you for feeding the birds! I feel bad for the little animals in the freezing weather! I love your blogs! I never miss reading them! Thank you.
    Laura from Orange County CA.

  12. Susan, we keep our birds happy feeding them through winter, but much as I love them, I could not touch those worms!! It reminds me of when my father fished in England and he bought worms, I used to run when he opened the tin!!
    I have only ever seen one Bluebird here and that was when it flew into a window and I rescued it, it sat on my finger for ages and would not leave. Hubby took a photo of it.

    • lol They used to creep me out a little but I got over it pretty quickly. 🙂 I have a female cardinal who occasionally tries to attack the “bird in the window” in my family room…so I have to close the shutter to get her to stop. Glad your little bluebird was okay and you rescued him before a hawk made him dinner!

  13. LOVE your photos Susan! I’ve tried the dried mealworms from Lowe’s and the bluebirds are not interested. I need to get over my squeamishness of live worms and try them 🙂

  14. Bonnie Gutierrez says:

    Hi Susan, when I read your post about the mealworms for the Bluebirds I had to send a comment. Just a few weeks ago I purchased some freeze dried mealworms – basically on a whim because I was in the grocery store and after reading the label on the container it seemed like a good idea (I am fairly new to the bird watching and feeding world!). The funniest part of this story is the expression on the cashier’s face and her verbal reaction. She dropped the container upon the sight of the MWs, “what do you do with these” and her eyes were like saucers!
    I have noticed that the birds are not all that excited about the freeze dried morsels, so I think you are correct about their preference for live MW. Thank you for all of the informative posts and wonderful photos. I will be paying close attention to your birding adventures !

  15. Too cold here even for the birdfeeders as the seeds all freeze, (weather ranging from highs of 25º F to lows of -11º F without the wind factor) but noticed the colony of squirrels are sharing they shelled peanuts with two lovely red Cardinals and two Blue Jays that are now visiting daily. Regarding the Mealworms, that is so sweet of you Susan to provide them and I appreciated the video you included as it brought a much needed smile to me as just this past Thursday evening I had to make the decision of putting our beloved eleven year old little Cockapoo (part poodle & spaniel) to sleep because of 4th stage Kidney Disease, so I thank you. -Brenda-

    • Oh, Brenda…I am sooo sorry. I know it is heartbreaking to go through that. My last 3 kitties (before Max) all passed from kidney disease at the ages of 16, 17 and 18 and I remember well how difficult and heartbreaking that was to go through. Sending you much love and hugs! ♥

  16. What a lovely act of kindness, and I can see that the birds truly appreciate it. Beautiful photos. It has been extremely cold here in Montreal, Canada as well.

  17. We love our birds, too. We provide food and water in a heated birdbath all winter. The birds love it.

  18. Susan, You are so kind. Totally wonderful that you are helping God’s creatures.

  19. I see one of those slides as a small photo on the last page of your future book: tiniest tablescape 😉

  20. Susan, it’s a good thing God made us all different. I would not come within 10 feet of those mealworms !! They make me so squeemish and I shiver just looking at the picture. Yuck . But I’m so glad you can look after them like you do. Better you than me. lol

  21. Thank you for being so kind. Our little feathered friends have a hard time finding food in these severe winter cold days. I always say a prayer for wildlife during the winter as I know it must be so difficult for them. I have never seen a woodpecker, but I would love to see one. We have lots of bluebirds, sparrows, owls with huge wing-spans and even hawks. And of course little hummingbirds that feed at our feeder. Living in ca. so no chance of snow-at least not in most areas. We have a wetlands behind us so have to keep my lonely kitty indoors as coyotes still roam thru. My dogs are goldens and they have the run of the backyard but spend 99% of the time indoors. Thank you for sharing the beautiful bird pics.

  22. How sweet of you to be so dedicated. I tried the meal worms once but didn’t see a lot of activity so I didn’t keep up with them. My yard isn’t real conducive to them for visiting. They like open areas and I think my yard is too confining. I do love seeing them- to me they are the crème de la crème of visiting birds at the feeders!

  23. All wildlife loves mealworms. We use mealworms for wildlife rehab and they love them. You can put them in squirrel feeders also.

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