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For many years I’ve attempted to attract bluebirds to my yard. My interest in bluebirds started when I worked as a volunteer with the Chattahoochee Nature Center. During that time I learned bluebirds had in years past, (1960′s and 70′s) dramatically decreased in number. (Image from Wikipedia)
This decrease was found to be due to use of pesticides and a loss of their natural habitat (natural nesting cavities). The loss of nesting cavities was blamed on the clearing of trees for housing developments, shopping malls, highways, and cropland. Also, wooden fence posts that had provided nesting cavities were often being replaced with metal posts. (Image below is from Help for Bluebirdsdotorg.)
As bird enthusiasts became aware of this problem and attempted to spread the word, bluebird houses were erected on golf courses, along pasture fence lines and of course, in backyards everywhere. It apparently worked, because since the 1970′s the bluebird numbers have been increasing instead of decreasing! Yea!!!
Years ago I put up a bluebird box but never saw any bluebirds and eventually the box deterioratedand fell off the tree where I had foolishly mounted it. Later I found out it’s not a good idea to mount them on trees…predators can easily access the nest by coming down the tree. No wonder I never got a nesting of bluebirds…thank goodness the bluebirds were smarter than me!
Last summer I decided to try again and this time I did it the right way, mounting the house to a free standing pole. Wrens immediately took up residence in the home. (LOL) According to all the “experts” you are supposed to toss their nest out. ~SIGH~ I just couldn’t do it. I know…I’m a wimp.
One day as I pulled into my driveway, I noticed a bluebird perched at an opening of one of the many cavities in an “ornamental” dove cote I have mounted on a pole in my perennial garden . I guess no one told the bluebirds that the house was bought for ornamental purposes, because they made themselves right at home.
To say I was excited is an understatement! I immediately rushed out and purchased mealwormsfrom a local birding store to assist with their busy feeding schedule. One afternoon I managed to capture a few pics of Mom and Dad Bluebird feeding their babies mealworms from the tray I attached to the dove cote. (Update: Since then I moved the tray to the lantern about 10 feet away. Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird didn’t like me coming so close to add more meal worms to the tray each day.)
Mealworms are not really worms; they are the larval stage of the mealworm. (Click Ctrl + on your keyboard to enlarge pics.)
Dad Bluebird is gathering a mouthful of worms for his babies.
Mom is checking on the babies while Dad is preparing dinner.
If you look closely, you can see the worms in dad’s mouth…
Over the summer Mom and Dad bluebird nested THREE times in the dove cote. This is amazing because all the information I’ve read states they will usually nest twice in a season and rarely, three times. I guess they knew a good thing when they saw it; I kept them in mealworms all during the three nestings.
At the risk of completely grossing you out and losing you as readers of my blog forever, I thought I’d share some pics I took of how the worms are shipped and how I store 5000 live worms for a month.
The worms arrive within 2-3 days of placing the order. They are shipped in a box with holes which allows for ventilation.
The worms are inside the bag all mixed in with the newspaper with which they are shipped.
This is what 5000 mealworms looks like:
I store the mealworms in the refrigerator in a plastic container that contains 2-3 inches of a mixture of wheat bran, corn meal and/or oat bran. I mixed in a little oatmeal, as well. While in the frig, the larvae go into a dormant state. Meal worms can’t crawl up the sides, so there is no danger of them getting out. I leave the lid slightly ajar to allow for ventilation.
You can keep mealworms in a refrigerator that is set around a temperature of 40 degrees for several months, although my birds go through 5000 mealworms in a month easily. Once a week, it is recommended you take the mealworms out of the refrigerator for a day, cut up a carrot or an apple and place it into the container. The worms will warm up quickly and will feed all day on the carrots or apples.
I, also, like to offer the worms to the other birds who come to my feeders. Tufted titmouse, chickadees, wrens and many other birds really appreciate the help during their nesting season.
Here you can see Mom bluebird fluttering down to get some mealworms for her babies while dad is perched on the roof of the dove cote watching the crazy woman with the camera inching nearer.
Now Mom is feeding the babies and Dad continues to stand guard.
In the pic below, Dad is feeding the babies this time. Mom and Dad bluebird share the feeding duties throughout the nesting season.
Bluebirds are a member of the Thrush family and are related to the American Robin. The Eastern Bluebird, the Western Bluebird and the Mountain Bluebird are the three types that make their home here in North America. The bluebird we have here in Georgia is the Eastern Bluebird. Bluebirds help us because they eat insects like cutworms and grasshoppers that can cause extensive damage to our gardens and to crops.
You will also find additional information about bluebirds at The North American Bluebird Society’s website: http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/ During the nesting season, you can watch live “nest cams” at http://watch.birds.cornell.edu/nestcams/home/index. Thanks for stopping by and if you enjoyed today’s post…would love to hear from you…just click on the “comment” link below and leave me a message.
(Pauline and Tom, who signed my guestbook this morning, left a message saying that members of The North American Bluebird Society get a 15% discount on mealworms from Sunshine Mealworms and The Nature’s Way. Be sure to click on the “view all guest” link below the guest book and take a look at the amazing photo of Pauline and Tom!)