What foods attract your bluebirds best?

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  • #996
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Carolyn, You are right about them going bonkers over the live worms. I don’t think for one second if you offered live worms AND suet at the same time that they would eat the suet (just wait for more worms), but then I have never done this. Once I begin offering suet (in the wintertime) I discontinue the worms altogether and as I mentioned they do pout about this at first. The fat in the suet makes a mess in the hot summertime. I do believe they will regulate their feeding somewhat, but they will pig out on those worms if given the opportunity. And as warmed, too many can be calcium depleting (eggs would not be strong). Somewhere it is suggested to feed around 10 worms per bird per day (that would be medium worms, not the large). Of course, this could vary if it were extremely cold, no berries around, etc. But they do need a good amount of natural food if possible.

    #999
    tamsea
    Moderator
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    I’m admitting right here….I have a problem. I feed my bluebirds many many more than ten mealworms a day. :BagOverHead:

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by tamsea.
    • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by tamsea.

    Tammy

    #1002
    cidermill
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    Pass the bag…..me, too.

    Carolyn
    New Hampshire

    #1004
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Hey – Tammy, did you win that mega-billion dollar lottery or something girl? :birddance:

    #1006
    tamsea
    Moderator
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    What are you referring to, Carol? Sometimes my brain just doesn’t work.

    Tammy

    #1007
    tamsea
    Moderator
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    Carolyn, I also thought that maybe dried mealworms might be better for them in the long run…maybe not so calcium depleting? I have friends near by that are offering them with great success. Maybe I’ll try them again. It would be SO much easier!!

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by tamsea.

    Tammy

    #1009
    tamsea
    Moderator
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    Carolyn, do you do the homemade suet?

    Tammy

    #1010
    cidermill
    Participant
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    Hi Tammy, I know there is a beloved homemade suet recipe, but I’ve been buying suet cakes and crumbling them with great success. In addition to the bluebirds, there are a lot of other species that seem to like it crumbled up for them (eg: woodpeckers, flickers, jays, titmice, carolina wren, chickadees, nuthatches, etc). As for the mealworms, I’ve really been thinking about this one. The bluebirds that feed at our feeders nested at the neighbors house last year (we didn’t have any nesting boxes) and successfully fledged 2 broods which addressed my concern about calcium depletion from the dried mealworms I feed them over the winter. I also find that on nice days like today, they don’t eat much here at all so are finding food elsewhere even as winter is waning. I’m really glad to have chimed in on this board; this has been an enlightening and thought-provoking thread. I hope you also have great luck with the dried mealworms if you decide to go that route, Tammy. And I also hope you might be onto something about dried vs live with regard to the calcium issue.

    Carolyn
    New Hampshire

    #1015
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Tammy, just joshing you about feeding so many live worms – they really are fairly expensive if you give them all they will eat. But then again, what is expensive to me is probably not to some. I spend close to $150 (3 shipments of 10,000) a year on the worms, and this is only about 9 months worth and being very frugal with them! Feed on ……….
    Carolyn, Cher (our forum Administrator) has a great peanut butter suet recipe which I have used for 8 years now: 1 cup lard & 1 cup crunchy peanut butter, melted in microwave together, add 1/3 sup sugar, 2 cups plain oatmeal, 2 cups cornmeal & 1 cup whole wheat flour. Mix up together and let cool, then crumble up in pea sizes or smaller. My blues (& others) love it. I do keep it in refrigerator so it will not melt all over. I need to make another batch tomorrow and then will be feeding worms about mid-March.

    #1016
    cidermill
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    Carol, I’m guessing the recipe you gave is the same one that I referred to as the “beloved homemade suet recipe” that I have seen on other sites over the past few years. I use no-melt suet cakes which make it possible for me to use them year-round with great success and no concerns with melting in the summer.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by cidermill.

    Carolyn
    New Hampshire

    #1019
    lexilu
    Participant
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    I never knew live mealworms were calcium depleting!!! I do crumble “Peanut no melt suet dough” in with my mealworms now if I don’t have homemade. The bluebirds come at the same time every morning and most evenings show back up for a snack. I also have Blue Muffin Virburnum, Beauty Berries, Winterberries and Dogwoods in my yard. There are lots of cedar with berries on our farm. It is always a good idea to have natural resources in your yard.
    After Christmas a local garden center has a workshop where you strip your live wreath of Christmas decorations and use it for an edible bird wreath workshop. The bluebirds, as well as all birds love it!!!
    Carolyn, if you feel like putting something in the nest box for winter I would use clean pine needles or clean dried grassy material. Since this is what they use naturally. All of our boxes have nest cups and I never add anything but I live in a much warmer area than you.
    Sharing
    Edible Bird Wreath

    Lexi
    Virginia

    #1022
    cidermill
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    Lexi, those are gorgeous photos!! What a great idea for using the leftover wreaths, thanks for sharing! Sounds like you have quite the of food offerings for them. And I’m guessing we’re probably using the same no-melt peanut suet.

    As for the nesting boxes, it’s funny because we put up 3: I put pine shavings in two of them and pine needles in the third. For no reason, other than I had read that all were suitable for winter roosting (if any birds were interested in the boxes for that purpose – we also have up several roosting boxes, but the birds don’t use them.). The box with the pine needles was/is used occasionally by a downy woodpecker this winter. The bb’s chose one of the nesting boxes with the pine shavings, most likely because of it’s prime location. I can’t lie, I did really enjoy watching the bb’s work throughout the fall and winter on removing the pine shavings. They showed up every morning like clockwork to do their renovating. :) Now that the renovations are done (they removed it all), I don’t see them quite as much, but they do check-in routinely as expected. I had gathered up a lot of pine needles last fall and placed them on the ground around the chosen nest box, and they did pull a few in on top of the pine shavings! Next year, I will definitely use pine needles in the box they have clearly chosen as their preference. Photo of the male removing some of the pine shavings: IMG_0240<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    Carolyn
    New Hampshire

    #1023
    lexilu
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    Carolyn,
    That is a great photo and an interesting behavior! I hope your bluebirds come back to that box and build this spring. One of my friends has a partial bluebird nest now. So far I have only had one house sparrow nest in a trail in town I monitor(I plan to trap them). I am eagerly awaiting spring.

    Lexi
    Virginia

    #1024
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Lexi & Carolyn, these are really beautiful pictures – keep them coming. Carolyn, I notice you have a Gilwood nestbox. We (DH & I) have built two and have found a great modification to this box. Last year was the 1st year I used one, and loved it, except could not get good pictures from the front. I was used to top opener boxes, so we decided to take off the screws on top of the box, attach a strap hinge to the back & back underside of lid, which then made the top hinge up, and then put some hasps on each side of box to keep the lid down securely. Works great! We put up this new box about a month ago and an very anxious to see if the blues like it. I did have a successful fledging from the 1st Gilwood last year, and also one nest of TRES, which for some reason did not survive to fledging (found lots of mites on them). Come on Spring!!!
    P.S. Very interesting how your blue took out the pine shavings – they do have a mind of their own, don’t they?

    #1026
    dogsandbirds
    Moderator
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    “I never knew live mealworms were calcium depleting!!!”

    Some people think they are if fed in abundance. If you are worried about that, you can dust live worms with calcium CARBONATE. You can find that in any pet store in the reptile food section.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by dogsandbirds.
    • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by dogsandbirds.

    Gin
    Atlanta, GA

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