Bluebird Home Drawing

IS THERE A NEED TO FEED BLUEBIRDS?

BY JACK FINCH

(REVISED JANUARY, 1994)




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 the last days before fledging. After the young fledged, they were brought to the area near the feeder to be fed. Occasionally the young perched on the feeder to be fed. Hopefully, in this way the young will learn about the feeder.
Is there a danger of making freeloaders of the bluebirds? This is doubtful. Insects will always be the preferred food. Bluebirds have been observed taking several insects before returning to the feeder for a raisin or currant.
 

Bluebirds usually visit the feeder on a regular basis early in the morning and late in the afternoon. If, however, it is cold, windy, or snowy, they might be near the feeder most of the day. Accumulations of ice and snow in the feed trays can be removed by pouring warm water over the trays.
 

To determine what the bluebirds are taking from the feed trays and from which ones, you can start the first feeding by counting the berries and raisins and at the end of the day, count the remaining ones. Do not keep excessive amounts of feed in the trays except for days you may be gone.
 

Be sure to remove larger berries. Bluebirds can swallow all berries that will pass through a 3/8-inch hole and a few 7/16-inch, but none as large as 1/2-inch. If these larger berries are allowed to dry and shrivel to a smaller size, the birds will readily take them if they have not turned dark.
 

Dogwood trees are selected and grown by commercial nurseries for their bloom and foliage color. I now have selections with late maturing, wormless berries that remain on the tree longer. A few of the selections are being planted in open fields for further testing and evaluation.
 

The dogwood berry seems to be able to take temperatures of 15 F on the trees and still remain red and edible to the birds. Temperatures near the F zero point may cause the berries to turn dark after thawing.

Bluebirds eat and run. Their visits may be so quick that you can easily miss them. Most blue birds swallow one or two berries and fly off with another, although occasionally they will take more. A flicker can take 13 berries at one feeding. It is wise to place the feeder some distance away from another standard feeder to avoid competition.
 

Feeding bluebirds may not be for everyone who feeds birds in the normal way. The bluebird feeder is most rewarding to those genuinely interested.
 

If you do any serious feeding or observation, it is good to make accurate daily notes of all the activity at the feeder. Also be sure to note the prevailing weather conditions.
 

Sometimes overly determined bluebirds insist upon nesting in the inside feed tray. When this happens, the best thing to do is to remove the support and lower the tray with the nest.
 

Whether you have good or negative results with the storage of the berries, it is important to know how they were stored. Your experience with different feeds, bluebird feeders, and the feeding techniques will add to the knowledge of this subject.

 

Share this information with us so that we may become more successful in helping bluebirds in the future. Drop a note detailing your progress and/or problems to: 

 

Jack Finch

Homes for Bluebirds, Inc. 

5714 Finch Nursery Lane

Bailey, North Carolina 27807

 

Note: The notes, observation, and information presented here are current as of January 1994. Since this is an ongoing research feeding project, there will be continuing changes and developments.

 (A twenty-five minute film is now available for schools, programs, and nature centers entitled "Bluebirds . . . Bring Them Back." Included in this film is a segment on a winter feeding program for bluebirds. It is a look at research in progress.  For more information, contact Berlet Films, 1646 Kimmel Road, Jackson, Michigan 49201.)

Acknowledgement
I would like to thank Judith Rogers for editing this material so that it can be shared.

Jack Finch - Homes for Bluebirds, Inc. - 5714 Finch Nursery Lane - Bailey, NC 27807

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