May 20, 2020 at 9:36 am #8215
I ordered live mealworms yesterday. Need to know how many to feed at one time. I have 2 parents and 5 babies (I think). Yesterday there were two hatched, 2 eggs and the 3rd I could not see. When I check today I’m hoping to see all five hatched.
Question 1…..how many worms per feeding
Question 2…..best time of day for 2 feedings a day
Question 3…..should I sprinkle calcium carbonate on the worms? Or is this only for the
Any tips will be greatly appreciated. Thank you,
Judy-MichiganMay 20, 2020 at 1:47 pm #8216
Judy, hope your other eggs hatched okay. Now for the mealworms –
It has been suggested on different sites like Sialis.org that the number of worms to feed is approximately 10 per bird, twice a day. Some people give unlimited amounts, which I truly believe is not good for the birds – they need to be able to learn to hunt for other insects. My parents usually want more than I give them (they will keep looking in the worm bowl) but then I watch them and they perch on a tree limb and hunt for food, then drop down and grab it up. Right now I am feeding quite a few worms because there are seven mouths to feed, including the parents. I find that early morning when I get up (around 6:30 or 7:00 am) is best for the 1st feeding, as they are usually waiting for me. And then around supper time 5 or 6 pm, I put out the 2nd feeding. Once in a while if we are not home overnight, they don’t forgot to come the next day. My blues usually eat what I put out each time in 5-6 minutes, maybe just a little more when they have to bring the babies food away from the feeder.
I believe where the calcium carbonate is needed is for those who give unlimited worms; however, I am sure it does no harm. I have never used it personally, but it is something to think about. Worms are not a cheap item – I just placed an order for 10,000 worms and got a call back and said they could only ship out 5,000 – don’t know exactly what the problem is. But the shipping costs are more expensive this way, as it just costs a little more (not double) for shipping 10,000 v.s. 5,000. Good luck.
From Sialis.org quote “How many to feed: Fawzi Emad recommends offering about 15 mealworms per bluebird per day. I’ve seen each blue eating about 3-10 per visit. NABS indicates that “because they should be used as a supplemental food, mealworms should only be offered once or twice a day unless poor weather conditions dictate more frequent feeding. A hundred or so worms offered morning and evening would be adequate for a pair with a box of nestlings.” Feeding smaller amounts twice a day is a good idea to ensure that bluebirds get some, and to prevent other species from “discovering” the feeder. One of the nice things about mealworms is that there is no waste left behind – no seeds or shells.”May 20, 2020 at 2:33 pm #8217
Thanks Carol…..you are a wealth of information! When the worms arrive I will be all set to start, LOL… get the worm train rolling. When you say 10 per bird, babies get the same allotment as adults? So, if I have 2 adults and 5 hatchling, start them out with 70 each feeding?
I just checked the nest, looks like there are 4 hatchlings with maybe 1 egg left. I will know more tomorrow when I check. Super happy because they went through 4 nights of the temperatures dropping below freezing. Mama blue has been doing a great job‼️
Judy-MichiganMay 20, 2020 at 2:44 pm #8218
This is so timely Judy and Carol, as I just bought the BBF-1 feeder and 1000 meal worms from our WBU s store on Monday. I put the feeder on a shepherd’s hook near their hook and put a few mealworms in the bowl to see if they would go to the cage. I did not see any activity. They stayed on their hook and looked but did not go to the cage. Yesterday I moved the cage to their hook and they still looked but did not go to the cage. Today (a couple of hours ago) I took the cage down, took the bowl out and attached a couple of wires to hold it on their shepherd’s hook, Put in about 20 meal worms and watched. About 20 minutes from when I put it out Dad bird had cleaned out the bowl feeding the nestlings. I am going to put some more worms out tonight to see if mom will join in. Judy you need them to get used to this new activity – as I found out. Just putting a feeder out and expecting them to jump right in is unrealistic. Mine took 3 days. Maybe you can get better results by introducing the uncovered bowl with the mealworms first. Happy feeding
Stafford, VAMay 20, 2020 at 5:48 pm #8219
That is a great tip David. I think I will start with hanging the bowl on the shepherd’s hook day one. Day 2….hoping they recognize the dish, I will move it closer by maybe 10’ towards the porch. Each day closer until it’s from the porch. That’s my plan. This should be fun…..hope it works.
Judy-MichiganMay 20, 2020 at 6:06 pm #8220
David is right – takes a little time, but once they start they will not want to stop. Oh, Judy, PLEASE read instructions (if they come with the worms) when they arrive. You must let them eat (out of the refrigerator) for at least 24 yours after they arrive – need to put THIN slices of carrots or potatoes in the container on top of bedding (usually wheat bran) & worms. They are extremely hungry when they arrive, since the trip usually takes a few days. Containers must be slick (plastic or glass) so they cannot crawl out. After a good 24 hours or so, you remove any remainder of the carrots or potatoes and put the container into a fridge. You can find all this info on the Sialis.org website.
By the way, David, only 1,000 worms?? I usually order 10,000 (which lasts close to 3 months) but today they said they only can ship 5,000 next week. My parents are definitely interested in another nest, so I want to be prepared.May 20, 2020 at 8:21 pm #8221
I bought the whole setup from our Wild Birds Unlimited store in Fredericksburg, VA. I wanted to start small to see what I would need. I can get 5000 from the store and do not have to deal with shipping issues. Since I am unable to go into the shop yet I haven’t been able to explore larger options. They are doing curb-side pickup only for a while longer.
I did the second feeding tonight and it was gone in 20 minutes. I am going to do one more day with the feeder on the hook and then move it back to the cage to see what happens.
Stafford, VAMay 20, 2020 at 10:43 pm #8222
David, if you think feeding the mealworms work, there are several web sites that sell in large quantities – just Google “live mealworms” and you will probably come up with several companies. Don’t know about your area, but I get mine from a place in Ohio and get them in two days with regular Post Office shipping/costs. Glad your blues enjoy them.
By the way Judy, I sure do not count out feeding of worms, one by one. I have a certain small container I use to put the worms in to bring out to the feeder and I know how approximately how many it takes for the two parents, and them adjust the cup contents for extra. This morning I experimented with this and I was very close on the regular 10 per bird, or in my case now 70 worms, plus a little.May 21, 2020 at 10:16 am #8223
Thanks for the tip Carol. I will look into that. I took this photo this morning just after I put out the mealworms. It looks like papa bird has taken the feeder seriously. He was on the other hook when I took the feeder bowl down to put the worms in. He picked up a mouth full, goes to the box and returned to the bowl twice before flying off with a fecal sac. The female perches on the hook above the feeder bowl but I have not seen her take any.
Stafford, VAMay 21, 2020 at 10:40 am #8224
David, absolutely beautiful picture – thanks! Yes, papa is hooked and mama will probably get into the “worm train” quickly. My papa & mama bring the worms high up into a close tree and we got to see the fledgings good yesterday. They will bring them down (to the railing on our deck where the cage feeder is) in a few days, and that is real cool, also, to see them learning to eat on their own.
What FUN!May 21, 2020 at 8:01 pm #8225
Update….I don’t know when the mealworms I ordered are going to ship, so I went to Wild Birds Unlimited and purchased 1000 for a starter. I wanted to have them before the current hatchlings fledge . I think my papa blue might be a jerk…..he found them within the first 10 minutes. The first time he took one to the tree to eat, did the same for his second taste. The next 3 times he visited he stayed at the bowl and ate. Never once did he take one to the box or show mama what he found. I put out 70, I think he ate them all (they were on the small side). We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
Carol, I counted them out. Seventy sounds like a lot, but in the dish they barely covered the bottom. Can you give me the name of the place you mail order from? Ohio is very close to here. And I’m sure you know good quality mealworms when you see them.
David, that is a great photo! You did a nice job rigging up the worm bowl.
Thank y’all for the great advice!
Judy-MichiganMay 21, 2020 at 10:36 pm #8226
Judy, there are 2 vendors in Ohio – Grubco Mealworms and The Nature’s Way Mealworms, and they are close together in location and prices. I have used both for 12-13 years and both are reputable. All worms are fairly small, even the medium size. I don’t mind because the birds will drop them once in a while and not so much lost. A lot of the difference in purchasing is in your location, the closer the better. Also, if you belong to the NABS (North America Bluebird Society) you get a 5 or 15 percent discount from both places. Mama will also feed the babies, just give them a little time, usually takes a day or so. I believe there might be a shortage of worms right now, as I was only able to order 5,000 instead of my usual 10,000. ALSO, they do not usually begin feeding the babies worms until they are about 2 or 3 days old, especially in the spring when small insects are available. When they bring them to a tree, this is where they kill them or bite them in two or something, not sure exactly what, but this is quite common. You will see a “worm train”, with mama and papa taking turns to feed babies, very soon I suspect.
P.S. don’t forget about feeding your worms every week or two when you get a larger order.May 22, 2020 at 10:25 am #8227
Thanks Carol…..great information. Worms are feeding on carrots today. Papa blue is still keeping them for himself. I hope he shapes up when it’s his turn to feed the fledglings. To date he just hangs out and feeds himself. This is only my 3rd season, but this pair seems very different from my others.
Judy-MichiganMay 22, 2020 at 3:03 pm #8228
Judy and Carol. My papa bird did a similar thing when he first found the feeder. I thought he was eating all of the worms himself but he would peck at them a couple of times and eat a couple, and then pick up 2 or 3 (like in the photo) and head to the nest Mama bird still has not gone to the feeder but she does sit there while the dad bird grabs some for the nestlings.
I did move the dish back to the hook with the cage. I am going to put it in the cage for the night feeding.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by David in Stafford,VA.
Stafford, VAMay 22, 2020 at 5:05 pm #8230
Sure wish I knew exactly what those parents do when they “peck” with a mouthful of worms, or even just a few. I thought I read somewhere they do this to kill them for the young babies, but I may be all wet. Anybody know the answer?
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