By Rich Crete
Hey Bird Guy! My friend says she has Bluebirds at her place. How come I never see any? -N.B.
My first guess as to why you don’t see them is that you are not spending enough time at your friend’s place. My second guess would be you live in a heavily treed yard. Bluebirds need wide open spaces to fly and catch insects. The insects they prefer are found in open fields.
Did you know that North America is the only continent with Bluebirds, N.B.? There are three types: Eastern, Western and Mountain. Guess which one we get.
Yes, they are here and they are year round residents. If you want to see some, just drive through some of the ranch land right behind FishHawk. Try a slow cruise down Browning Rd. and look along the telephone wires or on the ground in some of the pastures. Another favorite place of Bluebirds is on golf courses. There is a thriving population living along the fairways of the Riverhills golf course.
If you have an open space like that on your property and want to attract them, the best way is with a nesting box. Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, which means they can’t hollow out their own nest cavities. They rely on abandoned woodpecker holes or man-made boxes to nest. The introduction of House Sparrows and Starlings from Europe had so vastly reduced the number of available woodpecker holes, Bluebird numbers were down 90 percent from where they were naturally. The Eastern Bluebird population has made an incredible comeback over the past 30-40 years due to man-made boxes. It is nice to know that mankind actually did something right to fix a mistake we caused by bringing over those European birds. By putting up nesting boxes with 1.5 inch holes and evicting any of those two invasive species that try to nest in them, you too can contribute to their comeback.
Bluebirds cannot crack open shells so to attract them your standard feeder, you’ll need something without shells like sunflower chips or peanuts. If you want to offer their favorite food, the thing to put out is mealworms. Preferably live ones. I know, yuck, but they are yummy to Bluebirds.
Here is a bonus Bluebird fact at no extra charge: Bluebirds can sing without opening their mouths.