Winter Feeding of Blues – Any tips?

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  • #5957
    Cardon
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    This is the first year for me with Bluebirds. Just had a successful brood of 3 fledge last week. I hope to keep the blues around through the winter and was wondering if anyone has good tips for feeding during the colder months. Currently offering mealworms in a caged Bluebird feeder, which they love.

    thanks

    cardon

    #5958
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Cardon, a lot will depend on where you live – whether the blues migrate or not. Where I live in Mid-Missouri my blues do stay here all winter, have all 10 years I began this venture. If you want to go to the expense of the worms, they will eat them. You would have to be careful not to let them freeze, there again, depending on where you live. I do switch to homemade peanut butter suet around November through early March, and they love it. However, it does take them awhile to get the idea that there are no more worms – here is your treat! There again, I put out just enough of the worms or suet for the blues to eat very quickly after they are here. Otherwise, all the winter birds I have (Juncos, white-crowned sparrows, etc) can get in the cage feeder & eat everything up, but the cage feeder is great for excluding the larger birds, like starlings, blue jays, etc. I usually put out seed in a different location for desirable birds in the winter.

    #5959
    Cardon
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    Thanks Carol. I’m not 100% sure if the Blues migrate in the winter, however, in areas north and west of where I live I have seen them in late February and in good numbers – Heavily wooded area. I live on a lake and don’t have the luxury of a great deal of forest, but enough to give birds good hiding spots.

    I should be ok if I put suet in the cage right?

    So far….believe it or not, the Blues and only Blues have been hitting the worms in the cage and they are the only birds that have perched on the the feeder pole that it hangs from.

    Can you share the suet recipe?

    Thanks – Cardon

    #5960
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Sure – this is Cher’s (our administrator on this forum) recipe – I have used for 10 seasons now.
    Bluebird Nut’s (Cherie Layton) (taken from the Sialis.org website under Feeding)
    •2 cups crunchy peanut butter
    •4 cups quick cook oats
    •4 cups cornmeal (NOT cornbread mix)
    •2 cups lard (not artificial shortening)
    •2 cups white or whole-wheat flour (wheat best)
    •2/3 cup sugar
    •Optional: chopped nuts, raisins, dried fruit, up to 2 cups. (I don’t use – too costly)
    Melt lard and peanut butter in microwave, add remaining ingredients. Form into softball-sized balls. Store in freezer until ready to use, then microwave for 15-30 seconds, and crumble into dish or on platform feeder.
    Yields about sixteen softball-sized balls from a double batch.

    I just keep out enough in the refrigerator to use for a week or so so I don’t have to thaw it out. Then just take more out of the freezer for the nest week. Actually I use it up enough that I just keep it all in the fridge. You will need to let is cool somewhat before you make the balls so it will stick together, but not so long that it will not stick. It might take a time or 2 to get the hang of the consistency. Like I mentioned they will balk at the suet at first but when it is cold and they want something to eat, they really go for it. Yes, put the suet in the cage feeder or else EVERY bird around will get it.

    #5961
    Lisa
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    I can’t wait to try this! Mine have never overwintered with me, but being such an odd year maybe I have a chance!

    #5964
    tamsea
    Moderator
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    Cardon, it seems that there’s no rhyme or reason why bluebirds in some areas migrate and in other areas they don’t. I have mine here in NW Ohio all winter. The last brood and the parents stay around. I feed mealworms mostly but sometimes crumble up homemade Suet and put it in the mealworm bowl. Hope yours stay.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by tamsea.

    Tammy

    #5967
    Lisa
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    You would think mine would overwinter in nice warm bug ridden South Alabama but they are always gone by June!

    #5968
    Cardon
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    Thanks all….we’ll see what happens. Carol thanks for the recipe!!

    Tammy, that’s the plan. They have “owned” the feeder pole and even after the babies fledged(last Thursday) are there constantly. Hopefully if I keep offering, that will be enough to have them stay for the winter. I have a feeling they do, but I never really looked, nor have a I had a Bluebird feeder. Time will tell!!

    #5970
    MaybelleMaybelle
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    Our experience in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has varied from year to year. We have had the bluebirds disappear some time in November and reappear after the holidays, in January. Other years we also had them stay around pretty much all winter, but we did not see them on a daily basis.

    Our winters are pretty mild compared to some states, but one year we had a very several days of cold & snow in February and I was keeping them alive with a LOT of mealworms.

    Last year when it was snowy, I tried frozen blueberries (I freeze a LOT in the summer). They liked those.

    I didn’t have much luck with the suet I made. But I plan to try the recipe Carol shared this winter if we get cold weather again.

    Cari
    Willamette Valley, Oregon

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