Guest Author - Malika Harricharan
Nothing says its springtime more than the return of the beautiful bluebird. With its beautiful song, this bird signals that spring is here!
Bluebirds, about 6 inches long, can be found in the United States, southern Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala, wintering in the southern half of the Eastern United States and south to Guatemala.
There are 3 species found in North America: Eastern Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds and of course the all-blue Mountain Bluebirds. In general, the male bluebird has a bright blue upper body, reddish breast, and white belly. The female bluebird has a grayish-blue head and back with light blue wings and tail.
Bluebirds used to be much more common in the United States but their numbers have declined as they have experienced a loss in their habitat as more areas have become developed. Also the use of pesticides has been very damaging to the bluebird species.
Another suspected cause for the decline of bluebirds is the increase in starlings and house sparrows over the last century. This is bad for bluebirds because of the increased competition for nest spots. Sparrows and starlings are move aggressive than bluebirds and will attack and edge out a bluebird out of its home or nest box.
It is important to point out that bluebirds do not carve out holes in trees or other areas to make their home. They make use of existing holes (made by a woodpecker, etc). They are what are known as secondary cavity nesters. That is why it is so important for there to be boxes available for bluebirds, which may be single handedly restoring the bluebird species.
If you consider a nest box, there are a couple things to point out:
*Place the next box in an open area as this is where bluebirds prefer to live, feed and nest.
*Another reason for placing the nest box in the open away from trees is to discourage sparrows, wrens, swallows, as these will compete for the nest box.
*Position the nest box about 5 ft above ground. This will discourage predators such as raccoons and possums from invading the nest and killing the young bluebirds.
*The entrance hole should be 1.5 inches in diameter. Any difference in size could attract difference species of birds.
The bluebird's diet consists of about 70 percent insects and 30 percent fruit and vegetable matter. The most common items of insect food are grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars. Bluebirds also love mealworms. This is one way to entice them to feed in your backyard. You can purchase live or dried mealworms. These are available at most pet stores however; you'll have better luck buying them online. I'll have an article on mealworms next week.
Attracting and providing shelter for bluebirds is an easy and fun project that the whole family can enjoy. Why not put up a nest box in your backyard today?
Recommended Bluebird Nest Box