The Mountain Bluebird Feeding Preferences
The Mountain Bluebird is known for its strange feeding behavior. In fact their feeding behavior is so unusual that it makes the Mountain Bluebird quite distinguishable from the other species of bluebirds. Mountain bluebirds like to hover low around open fields where they hunt for their food. Upon seeing an insect the hovering birds quickly briefly drops to the ground to snatch their prey and then return to their flight or go to a perch. Even when seemingly resting on a perch mountain bluebirds are actually usually on the lookout for insects and when they spot one again suddenly briefly drops to the ground to catch the insect before returning to the perch to feed. This strange behavior is called ground sallying. Though other bluebirds hover above ground at times they do not do this as often as mountain bluebirds do.
During fall mountain bluebirds start migrating down slope and southwards due to growing scarcity of food in higher elevations. By winter you will see mountain bluebirds down south in California to the southeast portion of Texas. During this time mountain bluebirds can be seen travelling together in small groups to forage for food. Sometimes they travel with other species of birds like sparrows and western bluebirds as companions. During more plentiful times though western bluebirds and mountain bluebirds usually do not mix and in fact try to push each other out of their respective territories.
The mountain bluebirds diet is primarily made up of insects although they do eat berries too. Insects that mountain bluebirds like to feed on include beetles, weevils, ants, wasps, bees, cicadas, flies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets. Mountain bluebirds do eat berries but not as much as other species of bluebirds. They eat more berries during winter since insects are harder to find. The varieties of berries they most prefer to eat come from mistletoe, juniper and hackberry plants. Fledgling mountain bluebirds basically eat the same thing as the adults.
To help out mountain bluebirds survive the winter you can put out mealworms. Mountain bluebirds do eat mealworms to supplement their diet when needed. It will also, of course, help attract the bluebirds to stay near your area. The topic of mealworms is a little controversial though since some claim that feeding mealworms encourage the birds to nest a bit too early when it is still too cold so that eggs might not hatch because of this or fledglings might have a harder time surviving.