The Western Bluebird Feeding Preferences
Bluebirds are very beneficial to the ecosystem because they eat big quantities of insects like cutworms and grasshoppers that destroy crops and gardens. The truth is that their diet consists of 60 to 80 percent insects. The western bluebird is mainly an insectivore. Their diet is said to be 92 percent animal and 8 percent vegetable. The common insects they feed on include earthworms, snails, beetles, ants, wasps, flies, crickets, spiders, grubs and caterpillars. Vegetables include small fruits like currants, grapes, elderberries and mistletoe.
Bluebirds eat the insects they see while perching on fence posts or small trees by swooping down on them on the grassy ground. Western bluebirds can be often seen perching individually on fence wires, posts, snags or tree branches in open meadows and catching insects by pouncing them on the ground. They sometimes catch preys in mid air and fly back to the perch and eat the insect. Other times, they will just grab insects they see on twigs and leaves. They feed mostly on the ground similar to the robin which is actually their relative. During nesting time, bluebirds often feed their young with meal worms.
Apart from insects, bluebirds love to eat the berries and fruits of dogwood, red cedar, sumac, bayberry, Virginia creeper, holly, blueberry, hackberry and elderberry. They are not attracted to the bird feeding stations that provide a variety of seeds. During the later part of the fall and winter, insects are scarcer hence western bluebirds feed on berries of mistletoe that are abundant on oaks, pines, firs, incense cedar, juniper, toyon, Oregon grape and redberry. They will usually perch in a bush full of berries and pick off more berries nearby. Once they’ve consumed the berries from one bush, they fly off to another spot and get additional berries.
After laying her eggs, the female western bluebird incubates them by herself until the eggs hatch. Once the nestlings are out, both parents find ways to feed the young but the mother assumes the brooding duty to keep her young warm. About three weeks after, the nestlings learn to fly and leave their nest. However, they continue to stay nearby as they are continuously fed by their parents for several more weeks.
Bluebirds may not be attracted to feeders that contain seeds and nuts but they can feed on mealworms offered to them in a small dish. Of course, like all other birds, the western bluebird needs water for drinking and bathing. Don’t forget to provide them with plenty of water to keep them coming back. A bird bath is the best source of water for them. Planting fruit and berry trees will also draw them to your home because bluebirds love berries.