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May 30, 2011


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The Zen Birdfeeder

Anita, birds definitely prefer LIVE mealworms. They are alive and juicy, providing moisture as well. Dried mealworms are dead and dry. It's easy to understand their preference, isn't it?


So far no bird has come for the dried meal worms. I just put it out September 1. May be too late to attract. They like the wild bird feed however. I'm in Pensacola.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Thanks for sharing Bonnie!


I absolutely love watching the Robins from the time they return in early spring till the time they leave in late fall. When one pair decided to nest at my door 2 years ago, I went so far as to block off the entrance to all humans for 2 months! My male loved the super worms I'd put out for him and responded to my whistle by perching himself ontop of the rain spout curiously anticipating the bowl of worms. No sooner did I turn my back, he'd dive down digging into the bowl. He'd even leave 1 or 2 for the female and call her over to enjoy the treat. I was able to watch the pair raise their young and lucky enough to catch the moment they all left the nest in a quick flurry of activity (almost like the parents whistled on your mark, get set, go)! I saw them a few times after that around the yard but later in the summer, they seemed to have moved on. I was very excited to see the male reappear last year and although I didn't have any nests near by, he still showed up for his worms. This year however I was disappointed when I hadn't seen my Robin reappear. I did have Robins but the big guy with the large tuff of feathers ontop of his head and responded quickly to my whistles was no where to be seen. Needless to say, I was saddened by the thoughts of what could of happened to him. Last month I did notice a similar male (large tuff of feathers in his head) hanging around and a couple of weeks ago discovered a nest of 4 beautiful blue eggs in the bushes of my front yard. They've all recently hatched and I look forward to enjoying them. I know this is not the "my" male but I'd like to believe it's one of his offspring returning to his birth place to start his own family! I've just received a new batch of super worms (1000 for now) which my new Robin family truly appreciates! He hasn't yet figured out that the whistle means food but I have no doubt he'll get it soon enough!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Catherine, it's hard to tell what caused their demise. So many things can impact success including food, heat, parents experience or demise, predators, insects, etc.
I will tell you that live mealworms are always preferred over dried; birds prefer them, and they provide need moisture as well.
Also, be aware that most dried mealworms are shipped to this country from China.

Catherine Powell

Hi. I recently had some sparrows nesting in my mailbox. I fed them some dried mealworms (that I have for my hedgehog). They seemed to like them, but about 1 week after I fed them these, all three of the babies died! I am horrified that I may have contributed to this. One of the babies was underweight and sickly, but the other two seemed to be doing well. All of their crops seemed full when I found them so now I am scared that the dried mealworms somehow harmed our little sparrow babies :( Any ideas?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Ralph, they may eat them, but they would always prefer live. They also get vital moisture from live mealworms that they don't get from dried mealworms.


Chickadees go WILD around here for dried mealworms!

They absolutely love them!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Barb, they definitely prefer live mealworms. They may eventually eat dried ones, but get more hydration and nutrition from live ones and they know it!

Barb Gammaitoni

I just bought a feeder and dead meal worms but the bluebirds will not eat them! They prefer live ones?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Deb, sure there are mail order suppliers out there, and they have their pros and cons. But if you can get them locally, I hope all my readers here would choose to support their LOCAL businesses, which contribute to the community, provide jobs, etc. Local businesses go out of business without the support of local citizens.


Research your mail order companies because there are good ones out there. It's been several years since I bought them this way, but I had good experiences with it. They were much cheaper than what I could buy locally because I bought a lot at a time. Just be sure you are going to be home when they arrive because you don't want them left out in the sun. If you can't be home for delivery, then it's not a good way to go.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Patricia, sometimes it takes birds some time to find and then become interested in a new source of food. Try again when bird activity is good, try putting the feeder in the place of another feeder that gets heavy use, and make sure you're using live mealworms (not dried or roasted). Put out only a pinchful until they start feeding.
Good luck and let us know how you do!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Jill, I appreciate and understand your thoughtful question regarding feeding mealworms to the birds. The good thing is that mealworms are not the only options for feeding the bluebirds, so if one has ethical or other concerns with it, we can pass on that form of food. Thanks for leaving your thoughts!

Patricia Clark

I cannot get birds to come to my mealworm feeder. Any ideas?



I am struggling with an ethical dilemma relating to the precepts (you apparently practice or are interested in zen). Live mealworms appear to be lovely and helpful for my wild birds and I very much want to attract more bluebirds, but.....
the mealworms are sentient beings also and I am putting them out there.....

thoughts? thanks!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Tim, a live mealworm that falls to the ground would very likely be eaten, if not by a bird (I've had chipping sparrows cleaning up under a mealworm feeder) then by something else (I've had a toad eat them!)
Mealworms are the larvae of the Darkling Beetle, which are a pest near stored grain. I don't suspect a few would be of much concern in a typical yard.


Every once in a while a mealworm falls to the ground. Is there any concern about it surviving to become a beetle, and is the beetle problematic?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Hi Mary, here's some answers to your questions:
Q1. How high should I fill my little mealworm feeder for my birds? I bought the WBU square, clear plastic one and 2 small containers, which I'm told should last a while.
A. Feed them a pinch of worms at a time, ideally when you're there to watch. If you want to give them more, that's fine, but I'd start with a pinch (10-15 mealworms)
Q2. Also, does it matter if any of the wheat gets into the feeder with them?
A. No
Q3. Should I take care not to touch the worms with my fingers and just tap them from the container into the feeder?
A. THere's absolutely no harm in touching the mealworms.
Q4. One more thing: Where should I put the feeder itself on the pole system? Can it go just above the baffle?
A. Anywhere above the baffle is fine.
Good luck getting your Carolina wrens!!

Mary F. Jordan

Hi Nancy! I'm sorry if you've answered these questions before, but I don't know how to subscribe to this topic so I can see previous posts. Here goes: 1. How high should I fill my little mealworm feeder for my birds? I bought the WBU square, clear plastic one and 2 small containers, which I'm told should last a while. 2. Also, does it matter if any of the wheat gets into the feeder with them? 3. Should I take care not to touch the worms with my fingers and just tap them from the container into the feeder? 4. One more thing: Where should I put the feeder itself on the pole system? Can it go just above the baffle? I need some help, as you can see. I'm anxious to get my little Carolina wrens some worms ASAP!! They've been such good little pals to me! Thanks so much. --Mary

The Zen Birdfeeder

Kelly - glad to help you with mealworm feeding!


Thanks for the info :)

The Zen Birdfeeder

John - thanks and good note to beware mail order. It can also get very expensive that way during the summer when shipping costs are HUGE! If you get them at a WBU, we bear the cost and the hassles!


Excellent post Nancy! We feed mealworms during the time fledglings are brought to the feeders

Also beware of mail order mealworms. I'm not saying that all mail order is bad, but we got burned twice by two different companies.

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  • Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.


  • Nature happens. We cannot MAKE natural things happen (or NOT happen). We can create habitats to encourage natural things to happen around us, but there are no guarantees.


  • Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.