Bird Watcher's General Store

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Getting Bluebirds

Dear Bird Folks,

A friend of mine, who lives on another part of the Cape, has been getting bluebirds in her yard. I would like to get some to my yard, but I don’t want to invest in a lot of expensive bird feeders. Also, I live in a fairly wooded area. Will I ever get any bluebirds? Any advice?

Sarah, Centerville


Whoa Sarah,

Will you “ever” get any bluebirds? Who knows? This isn’t the Psychic Hot Line. Don’t ask me to predict anything. I thought the Patriots would beat Pittsburgh last Sunday. Hey wait, they did beat Pittsburgh. Ha, maybe I am psychic after all. Great, something to fall back on.

Anyhow, living in a wooded area does make it tough to attract nesting bluebirds. During the spring and summer, bluebirds are restricted to fields and yards that have a fair amount of open space. Folks who live in wooded areas aren’t very likely to see bluebirds in the warm weather. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that during the winter months almost anyone can see bluebirds, even you woody people. Bluebirds live on field insects like grasshoppers and crickets in the summer, but in the winter they mostly eat fruit and berries. Wintering bluebirds travel in small flocks or family groups looking for food. Some people have had luck putting out a tray of raisins and chopped up suet. There is even a weird product called “Bluebird Nuggets” that is a mixture of suet and raisins. These nuggets have been fairly successful for some folks. And the best part is that most of this is rather inexpensive, which seems to fit your stated requirements.

However, there is one item that works even better to attract bluebirds and it’s cheaper than cheap. It’s water. More people tell me that they get bluebirds at their birdbaths than at anything else. A customer brought in an amazing photo of this cute bluebird family drinking in their winter birdbath. Bluebirds love to come to water. You don’t even need to buy a fancy bath, an old plastic trash can cover makes a great wintertime birdbath. And the best part about water is that it’s real cheap, unless you decide to offer the birds Perrier or Evian. But then you might end up with your neighbors from Osterville drinking out of your birdbath. Ah, so what, they’re cute too.

Addendum – 04/07/06 – Since this article, bluebirds have become known to come to regular suet put out in cages and to feeders containing sunflower hearts. Once you get them, you can even go crazy and offer them meal worms, roasted or alive.