The sheer beauty of the bright blue male bluebird reflecting in the sunlight is a joy to behold. In early spring the males take the females around saying “How about you and me here – this year” as they scout out potential nesting areas. Soon a territory is established and then nest building will begin. The female will construct the nest in four to five days with only minimal help from her mate. The female also does the incubating, as the male does not have a brood patch. However studies have shown that a male will at times spend nights in the nest hole along with his mate.
The key to attracting bluebirds to nest in your yard is having plenty of potential nesting locations, food and water. Bluebirds do prefer more “open area” so if your yard is heavily wooded you’ll enjoy many other nesting birds – but probably not bluebirds.
Our (and the bluebirds) favorite nesting box is the Ultimate Bluebird House. This box has:
· Brass hinged doors on both sides with plexiglass on one side to monitor the nest without the danger of chicks falling out.
· Predator protector of solid copper to eliminate squirrels and woodpeckers from enlarging the entrance hole.
· Elevated mesh floor to help protect the young chicks from BlowFlies.
· Zinc Chromate plated screws that provide a sturdy, longer lasting house than one assembled with nails. Further the screws will not “bleed” leaving unattractive stains below.
· ¾ western cedar that will last for years with minimum care.
The Ultimate Bluebird House in use!
Place your nest box so that the opening is near a small tree or bush so fledgelings
have a place to fly to and parents have a place to observe the nest and hunt for
The female will lay four to six light blue eggs that will take thirteen to fifteen days to hatch. The male brings food to his mate and the young during the critical first few days of feeding. He acts like a tiny hawk, in his slumped hunting position, waiting patiently for an insect or beetle to show itself. He then pounces on it and brings the food back to the nest.
If you want to provide food to help attract bluebirds the best thing you can offer is mealworms. They can be offered in a cup or pan, but a Bluebird Feeder will allow the more timid bluebirds to feed while keeping other types of birds at bay. Bluebird feeders have an entrance hole that only bluebirds will enter and feed while keeping other birds out. It can take a few days or weeks to introduce the feeders to bluebirds, but once they get the hang of it they will keep coming back for more!
The young will fledge in fifteen to twenty days. Even though the parents will keep feeding them the fledglings can find their own food in about two weeks. In the Midwest the bluebirds will nest twice (occasionally three times as they do in the south if there is an early spring and moderate summer.) Some of the newly independent youngsters from the first brood are often seen bringing food to their new siblings. This often continues into the fall and at times they stay together until the following spring.
Year round, and especially in winter, a key to keeping bluebirds around is to offer a supply of water. Heated Birdbaths are available for the areas of the country where the temperature dips below freezing. Be sure to position the birdbath so there is a perching site nearby for birds to preen after their bath.
Planting berry bushes like American Bittersweet this spring provides food sources for bluebirds next winter. So what are you waiting for – get your houses up – mealworms and water out and sit back and watch for “Brilliant Blue" to appear – Good Luck!!