The 5 BEST Bluebird Feeders To Try in 2018
Few birds stop me in my tracks like an Eastern Bluebird.
Their beautiful shade of blue and rusty colored chest is always striking. One of my favorite birding activities is searching for bluebirds after a fresh coat of snow. The vibrant blue against the white snow backdrop is stunning!
Most people want to attract bluebirds to their backyard feeders and yards. Unfortunately, I have found getting them to show up is more complicated than you would think.
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Here’s the problem:
Bluebirds rarely eat birdseed.
That statement is a little depressing. Bluebirds will probably never join the Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches and other common backyard birds at your typical bird feeder that only serves seed.
So how do you attract bluebirds to your feeder and yard?
First, you need to understand a little bit of natural history information about bluebirds. Specifically, what they eat.
During warmer months, Bluebirds ONLY feed on insects, snails, worms and other invertebrates. In the winter, they switch their diet to eat berries.
Read the above paragraph again and let it sink in. Bluebirds do not eat the traditional seed you are providing at your bird feeder! It doesn’t matter if they are starving to death; it’s still unlikely they will visit your feeders.
Here’s the good news:
Attracting bluebirds to your yard AND your feeder is possible. You just have to do a little extra preparation.
First, you must provide food that will attract bluebirds. And don’t worry; you don’t need to go digging around your garden regularly for worms and bugs.
Enter the mealworm:
Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle (Technically they are not worms at all). They are easy to raise and commercially available as bird food, pet food (lizards, turtles) and fish bait. They are typically purchased alive or freeze dried.
The key to attracting bluebirds is providing a constant source of mealworms as food.
Bluebirds LOVE mealworms! Once they discover them in your yard, your bluebird feeders will become very popular, and it will be hard to keep them full.
There are two ways to purchase mealworms:
The good news is that bluebirds prefer live mealworms to dead and dried. The bad news is that live mealworms are more expensive than freeze-dried and you must provide care to keep them alive.
The positives are they are less expensive and easier to store and handle. The negatives are that bluebirds may need some convincing to start eating them.
The next step is to find bird feeders that specialize in delivering mealworms to our bluebirds.
Don’t worry. I have some suggestions. 🙂
The Best Bluebird Feeders To Try in 2018:
There are many different styles of bluebird feeders, and each one has its advantages. Sometimes it just depends on the personality of your local bluebirds or the feeder location that determines success.
But in my opinion, the following five feeders are the best available for attracting bluebirds.
Luckily, they are all relatively inexpensive. My recommendation is to try a few different options to see what works best for you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please realize that the bluebird feeders listed below are NOT only for bluebirds! By selecting a different type of food to place in the feeder (peanuts, corn, other various types of seed, etc.), they work equally well to attract other species.
Just remember, the key to attracting bluebirds is mealworms! They need to be placed in each of these bird feeders.
- The dome over the saucer/dish helps to keep the mealworms dry from the rain.
- The feeding tray has small holes that provide good drainage in case rain does hit the mealworms or seed. A little rain should not ruin the food as long as it can dry out fairly quickly.
- If you prefer using live mealworms, they can’t escape! They won’t be able to climb up the smooth plastic sides of the bottom dish.
- Since everything is clear, it should be easy to for the bluebirds to find the mealworms.
- The dome can be adjusted to go lower to keep larger birds (such as pigeons) out!
- This bluebird feeder is made of durable polycarbonate, which means that it is very tough and resistant to cracking or breaking. No worries if this accidentally falls to the ground!
- Take a look at the picture. It’s a very SIMPLE design. I like simple. It’s easy to take apart to clean and dirt easily washes off from the smooth plastic.
- Since the feeder is clear plastic, it won’t be the most decorative in your yard. This is not something that I personally care about as long as it attracts bluebirds.
- If the wind is blowing while raining, don’t expect the dome to keep the seed dry. The dome is 15 inches in diameter, and the feeding tray is 13 inches in diameter.
- This feeder has a simple design. It’s a small dish (10 oz) that easily snaps in and out of place to clean and refill.
- Think of this bluebird feeder as a place to put small amounts of treats. Obviously, mealworms work great for bluebirds, but you could also try jelly (for Orioles), suet nuggets or other types of seed.
- Live mealworms won’t be able to climb up the smooth polycarbonate walls.
- It has small slits in the sides which allow for proper draining. You should never have any standing water in this feeder.
- Extremely durable! It’s made out of hard plastic.
- I think this makes a perfect accompaniment bird feeder to your backyard setup.
- This bluebird feeder is small. It’s perfect to put out mealworms as treats every day, but the food won’t last long. Don’t expect this feeder to feed many birds; it’s not designed for that.
- It does not allow many birds to perch at one time because of its small dimensions.
- This feeder is designed with bluebirds in mind! The only way to enter is through the two holes on the ends, which helps to keep bigger and more aggressive birds out.
- Each side wall is made of transparent and durable Plexiglass. This allows the bluebirds to find the mealworms AND lets us observe them while inside the feeder.
- The feeder is very well made. The cedar provides solid construction and uses stainless steel screws.
- The roof is attached via a hinge and can easily be lifted up to access the inside.
- Live mealworms will try to climb the wooden sides to escape. To prevent this, just buy a small glass dish to place inside the feeder.
- Some bluebirds seem to have trouble finding their way OUT of the feeder.
- You may need to train your bluebirds to use this feeder. It’s recommended to start by removing one of the plexiglass sides to provide easier access and then replace the side once they have found the food and are using the feeder.
- This is an excellent, multi-purpose platform feeder. To attract bluebirds, just spread some mealworms on top. You can use different types of foods to attract other species. Or try a mealworm/nut/fruit mix to become the most popular bird feeder in your neighborhood.
- It’s solid and well constructed – made from cedar and screwed together well. You can buy much cheaper platform feeders, but remember you ALWAYS get what you pay for!
- The metal screen bottom provides excellent drainage. Your mealworms and food will never be sitting in standing water.
- The metal screen bottom is removable and slides right out. This makes it very easy to clean!
- The feeder is big and can hold lots of birds at one time. (16.4 x 13.2 x 2.4 inches)
- You won’t be able to use live mealworms in this feeder. They would crawl right out! You could place them in a dish inside the feeder, but only if this was sitting solidly on the ground or pole mounted.
- This feeder attaches directly to your window and gives a close-up view of your bluebirds! See every detail from the comfort of your living room couch. This is fun for ALL ages and a great way to get kids interested in birds.
- Window bird feeders are notoriously hard to keep attached. This has three suction cups to help do the job. (Make sure to clean your window thoroughly without soap before securing)
- Live mealworms won’t be able to climb out of the smooth plastic walls.
- There is a divider in the middle. This is nice because you can put mealworms on one side and seed on the other to attract different birds to your window.
- The trays are removable. This makes it very simple to clean! No need to take the whole feeder inside to wash.
- It has 60 small drain holes in the bottom. Water flows right through helping to keep the mealworms dry.
- The perch encourages bluebirds to sit and feed for a while. This is especially important for a window bird feeder where you want the bluebirds to stay as long as possible to watch!
- My biggest worry with window feeders is that birds will crash into the window and my feeder turns into a deathtrap. If you buy this product, my recommendation is to purchase window decals to put on the same window. This should help prevent any window crashes. Try these:
- For the record, I have yet to get an Eastern Bluebird to come to this window feeder. I have had luck with many other birds, but the darn bluebirds just won’t come close enough! Don’t worry; I will keep trying!
5 Tips When Feeding Mealworms to Bluebirds:
We have established that mealworms are the BEST food to attract bluebirds to your backyard bird feeders.
I wanted to provide a few extra tips and insights that may be helpful when it comes to feeding mealworms to bluebirds.
1. Live mealworms will outperform dried mealworms.
This is an unfortunate fact because dried mealworms are so much easier to buy and store. Keeping live mealworms is a bit more work since you must provide care to them. Some people also don’t like handling them and get a bit squeamish.
But you may have to use live mealworms in your feeders to initially get bluebirds to your yard. Bluebirds prefer living, juicy mealworms to their dried counterparts.
Pro Tip: To initially attract bluebirds to your backyard feeders, you may need to use a mix of live AND dried mealworms. Eating a live mealworm is much more natural for a bluebird, and they might have to be trained to eat the dried ones. By mixing them, they will accidentally eat the dried ones and realize they are also edible. From there they can be slowly transitioned to dried mealworms.
Here are a few resources to get you started with live mealworms:
2. Only use mealworms to supplement a bluebirds diet.
Once bluebirds start coming to your feeders, it can become incredibly addicting. As soon as they eat all the mealworms, you will want to run back out to refill to watch them again and again.
Please resist this temptation.
Mealworms don’t offer complete nutrition for a bluebird and can cause problems if this is the only food that they are eating. Specifically, mealworms don’t provide the needed calcium and can cause bone issues in young bluebirds.
3. Bluebirds may accept a few other foods other than mealworms.
This article has focused mainly on using mealworms at your bluebird feeders, but there are a few other foods they may accept and eat. You will have more luck with these foods during environmentally hard times for bluebirds, such as a harsh winter when there is nothing else to eat!
4. Train your bluebirds!
Yes, it is possible!
Just be consistent. Feed them at the same time and the same place every day. Soon they will be eagerly waiting for your arrival.
5. Lots of other birds enjoy mealworms too.
You have been warned.
Bluebirds are not the only bird that will be coming to your mealworm feeders! Many species will enjoy this tasty treat and energy boost.
So what kinds of birds eat mealworms?
Your bluebird feeders may soon become the most popular. Be prepared!
Feeding bluebirds can make a huge difference!
You may be asking the question:
Why should I feed bluebirds?
Bluebirds are not endangered but do face some threats. One is increased and continued uses of pesticides that have decreased insect populations. It’s easy to see how this puts additional pressures on bluebirds that rely on insects for energy and nourishment.
Providing a consistent food source for bluebirds is a classic Win – Win.
We win because we get the pleasure and joy of watching these beautiful thrushes in our backyard. It’s gratifying to hear their song in the morning! If we are lucky enough, they will even nest and raise their chicks in our yard for us to observe.
The bluebirds win because they receive a predictable high energy food source.
This can be a massive help during a harsh winter. Or it may give the extra energy to ensure that an entire brood of bluebird chicks survive to become adults.
How much do you love bluebirds?
After getting a few bluebird feeders, you may find yourself drawn even more to these beautiful birds.When that happens, I recommend you join the North American Bluebird Society. They are a non-profit education society that promotes the conservation of bluebirds (and other cavity nesters) in North America.
There are also many regional and state affiliates. For example, there is an Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Florida Bluebird Society. Search for one that is closest to you.
Do you want bird watching tips, tools, and tricks delivered to you every month??!!
How are you feeding bluebirds?
What are the bluebird feeders you have had the most success using?
What other foods have you used other than mealworms? I have never had any success with anything else!
Thanks for reading!