What Do Bluebirds Eat?

When you’re trying to attract bluebirds to your yard, the best thing to do is offer them food. But what do bluebirds eat?

Bluebirds are insectivores and will mainly eat invertebrate insects. A favorite of bluebirds is mealworms. Seasonality affects insect availability and bluebirds need to supplement their diet. Seeds, berries, and fruits are also popular foods that bluebirds will eat during the colder months.

Now you have a basic idea of the bluebirds’ diet, but what do they eat specifically.

This guide will take you through all you need to know about the bluebirds’ diet. Plus we’ll go through some feeding habits that will help you attract more bluebirds to your yard.

Sound good? Then let’s jump in.

What do bluebirds eat in the wild?

1.  Insects

Insects make up the majority of the bluebird’s diet. In the spring and summer months when insects are plentiful, it makes up around 80% of their daily food intake [1]. During this time the bluebirds will also be nesting with their baby chicks.

Bluebirds eat insects as they’re a vital source of protein and water in their diet. Insects are an essential part of a baby bluebird’s diet as the protein helps them to grow. They are also a good source of calories to help them bulk for migrations south in the winter.

Common insects that bluebirds eat are:

  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Caterpillars
  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Snails
  • Moths
  • Mosquitoes
  • Worms

This is simply a summary of the insects that bluebirds eat. They will eat most small and medium-sized insects. They will also eat a lot of insect larvae.

Bluebirds will find insects to eat by foraging in large open areas. They use a variety of predatory behaviors such as perching above plants and grasses and dropping down onto the insects.

If the bluebirds have chicks in their nest, they will eat the insects, then regurgitate them for the chicks back in the nest.

Bluebirds live where there is a good food supply. They migrate mainly to the north USA and Canada in the warmer months. This is because the insects are plentiful and there is less competiton.

As the insects start to go dormant for the colder seasons, the bluebirds will migrate south. They will travel from Canada and North America to more southern states and Mexico for the winter. The distance they travel will depend on the insect availability within their environment.

2. Fruits & Berries

The other part of a bluebird’s diet is made up of fruits and berries. In the summer months this is around 30%, but in winter months will increase to around 60% of what they eat. That’s because there are fewer insects around and they supplement with fruits.

Bluebirds will eat both fruit that grows on trees as well as berries. These provide bluebirds with a rich source of energy, nutrients, fiber, and water.

Often the bluebirds will eat the fruit and berries of trees and hedges that they use for perching. They will forage for the fruit and berries, simply plucking them off the tree and eating them.

Some common fruits and berries that bluebirds eat are:

  • Sumac
  • Dogwoods
  • Hawthorn
  • Blackberries
  • Bayberries
  • Pokeberries
  • Grapes
  • Crab apples
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries

Berries are much easier for the bluebirds to eat as they are found in large numbers. The bluebird’s soft beaks also find berries much easier to eat than large fruits with hard skins.

What do bluebirds eat at Feeders?

3. Mealworms

One of the best foods you can offer at the feeders in your yard is mealworms. Bluebirds love to eat mealworms as they are the food closest to their natural diet.

Mealworms are crammed full of protein and easy for the bluebirds to eat. They can also feed them to their young.

The best way to offer mealworms at a feeder is to use live mealworms. The next best option is to hydrate dried mealworms. This makes them plump and juicy for the bluebirds to enjoy.

Mealworms can be easily offered in small mealworm feeders (this one is a bestseller).

4. Chopped fruits

Bluebirds will visit ground or platform feeders which offer chopped fruits. These provide the bluebird with the same nutrients and sugar they find in the fruits and berries sourced in the wild.

The difference is that the chopped fruits allow the bluebirds to access the flesh of fruits they normally find tricky to eat in the wild.

Some chopped fruit to offer bluebirds at your feeder are:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries

5. Eggshells

One of the most nutritious foods you can offer to bluebirds at your feeders is eggshells. You don’t need anything fancy, just simply save the eggshells from kitchen scraps.

As bluebirds are insectivores they have a diet very high in protein. Yet this isn’t great for their health unless it is balanced out with a good source of calcium.

Calcium is essential for nesting females, chicks and to help adult bluebirds digest their food.

Eggshells are the best way to get calcium into the bluebird’s diet at your feeder.

The eggs shell should be baked in the oven and then crushed. You can crush them into small pieces or blend them into a fine powder. The eggshells can then be mixed with any other food you offer the bluebirds.

6. Fats

As the weather gets colder bluebirds will happily eat good fat sources you offer up at your feeders. The best ones to offer are suet and peanut butter.

The fats in the suet provide them with an essential source of energy to survive the colder months. Suet is best offered on a platform feeder along with other foods that bluebirds like such as mealworms or fruit.

Fruit or peanut-flavored suet is also a great option for bluebirds. The bluebirds love the dried fruit or nuts that these suet’s contain.

7. Sunflower hearts

Bluebirds are not seed-feeding birds but they are partial to sunflower hearts. That’s because sunflower hearts are without shells. This allows the birds the seed meat without them having to break the shell.

Bluebirds don’t eat seeds in the wild as they find it difficult to break the shells. Their beaks are designed to eat soft insects and fruit rather than grains.

The bonus for you is that with sunflower hearts, there is no mess left around your yard from hulled seeds.

What do bluebirds eat in winter?

In the USA insects are much harder to source during the winter months. This is a problem for a bird that has insects as the main part of its diet.

Bluebirds have adapted by switching their diet to one which is more fruit and berry-based during the cold seasons. Although they will still be able to source some insects.

That’s because the bluebirds will migrate slightly south to an area that has a rich source of insects during the winter months. Usually, this is to southern states but some bluebirds fly as far as Mexico for winter.

This means the bluebirds can still eat insects without having to go without all through the winter.

Although some bluebirds may overwinter in more northern states. If you spot a bluebird in your yard over winter, try to help them survive by offering a fresh food supply. Mealworms are best, but fruits and suet are also good options for them.

Plus you should always offer a fresh water source for birds during winter too.

Final thoughts

Bluebirds are insectivores that have a diet mainly made up of insects. Yet an insect-based diet isn’t great in the winter month when they lay dormant. During this time bluebirds will adjust their diet to be more fruit and berries based.

These foods give bluebirds the essential nutrients they need to survive and thrive in the wild.

Bluebirds will find a good source of food over the USA, southern Canada, and northern Mexico. They move to warmer climates in the winter for a better food supply.

Offering food at your feeder is a great way to attract the bluebirds to your yard. You will also be able to help overwintering bluebirds to survive the harsh seasons when food supplies are low. Offer mealworms, suet, and fruit for best results.

Sources

[1] Foraging Behavior of the Eastern Bluebird Benedict C Pinkowski

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