Many customers at our Wild Birds Unlimited shop are reporting that Eastern Bluebirds are visiting their yards this winter for the first time ever. Most are surprised that bluebirds are around in the middle of a bad winter, but upon questioning we find that their bluebirds are enjoying the fruit-bearing trees or shrubs in their backyard habitat, or that the bluebirds have found some of their birdfood offerings particularly appealing.
Staff member Jane often has bluebirds at her birdfeeders during the winter months, and here's what she recommends as the Top 5 Foods to offer Winter Bluebirds:
1) Live Mealworms
Bluebirds are insectivores during the summer months and will relish finding live insects to feast upon in winter.
Won't they freeze, you ask? Yes, when left uneaten. But once the bluebirds find that you're offering live insects, they will NOT go uneaten!!
They will always prefer live mealworms over dried (dead) mealworms.
Bark Butter comes in a variety of forms. Bark Butter in a tub is a spreadable suet that bluebirds seem to crave. It is easy for them to eat, since they are able to just pick off small portions.
Bark Butter Bits are Bark Butter in nugget form. Same great ingredients in a small round nugget that bluebirds can easily pick out and eat. Just put out a handful in any cup-type or tray feeder.
4) No-Mess Blends
We usually don't think of bluebirds as seed eaters, but they really enjoy our shell-less No-Mess Blends. I think the key is that No-Mess has no shells, making it easy for bluebirds whose beaks are just not made for opening shells.
Consider No-Mess NM (No Millet, just sunflower chips, peanuts, tree nuts) or No-Mess Plus (sunflower chips, bark butter bits, tree nuts, peanuts).
5) WBU No-Mess Cylinders and Stackables
Bluebirds seem to love cylinders and Stackables, which are long-lasting (great for winter feeding!) compressed seed products, because they have no shells. They will just pick at them to get the seed they want.
Bluebirds are year-round birds in this portion of upstate New York. So even if you don't have the preferred open habitat for bluebird nesting in the summer, you still might find them enjoying a heated birdbath and the easy pickins' at your birdfeeding station if you put out the right foods!
Do you have winter bluebirds? Let me know where you are and what winter bluebirds are eating in your yard.
Thanks to staff member Jane Riccardo for contributing to this post.
Eastern Bluebird top: Darlene Switala
Bluebird with mealworm: Tim Griffith, WBU-Evansville IN
Bluebird at Bark Butter: Jonathan Glover
Bluebird at Heated Birdbath: Linda Wilkes