About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Attracting winter bluebirds

I'm still feeding my bluebirds. When do they migrate south? ~ Bath, MI

Eastern Bluebirds can stay in mid-Michigan year round. Bluebirds usually gather in the woods after their nesting season is done. There they forage for fruits, nuts, and berries from shrubs, trees, and vines.

Flocks can be as large as 100 but typically range from 5 to 20 birds in mid-Michigan. Winter flocks forage for food together and wander about exploring possible roosting sites like bluebird houses or tree hollows.

How to help the bluebirds survive the winter
Bluebirds are attracted to water. You can provide a heated birdbath for your birds. This isn’t like a hot tub. The bath just remains free of ice and open to the birds to get drinks or clean their feathers.
Photo by Tom T. WBU So. Yarmouth, Ma.

Feathers are critical for flight and insulation, birds must keep them well-maintained. A good part of a bird's day is spent just cleaning and grooming its feathers by bathing, scratching, and preening. The feathers covering the body give the bird a water resistant, aerodynamic shape for efficient flight. The feathers also provide insulation by trapping body heat close to the skin.
What to you feed bluebirds
The only time it may be hard for birds to find food in the winter is during storms. Freezing rains or heavy snows can cover their natural food and make it almost impossible to feed. Otherwise in the winter, bluebirds forage naturally for fruits, nuts, and berries from shrubs, trees, and vines. Some of those include dogwood, hawthorn, mountain ash, sumac, holly, bittersweet, pokeweed, grape, and honeysuckle fruits.
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If you want to supplement their diet or attract bluebirds to a feeder, most people like you do, feed mealworms. I also like to add chopped apples in the same tray I offer the mealworms. Both bluebirds and live mealworms enjoy eating my apples.
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Other foods you can offer are shelled sunflower seeds, nuts, berries, or suet. Bluebirds enjoy raisins or chopped grapes too but these can be harmful to dogs so I don’t suggest that if your little buddies can access the feeding area.

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