What Do Baby Bluebirds Eat?
How to Take Care of Baby Bluebirds

Bluebirds are exotic little creatures that require care and attention. To know exciting facts about baby bluebirds, read below.

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Iñigo Navarro

July 25, 2021


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What’s This Post About?

Bluebirds are medium-sized birds that belong to the thrush family. These beautiful species are known to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and love. The three main types of bluebird species found in America are Eastern bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds, and Western bluebirds.

This post consists of information required to take care of a baby bluebird and feed it properly. If a baby bluebird is fed healthy food sources, they grow into beautiful, healthy birds with a fully developed body structure.

Bluebirds are insectivorous, which means they mainly feed on different kinds of insects such as snails, grasshoppers, spiders, and caterpillars. The babies are fed mashed insects that are easy for them to consume and digest. In the winter seasons, baby bluebirds survive on fruits and fresh berries.

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What Are Bluebirds?

Let’s discover the bluebird species in detail.

Bluebirds are medium-sized songbirds that are commonly found across North America. Their bright-colored bodies add to nature’s beauty. Bluebirds belong to the thrush family and have a distinct flute-like sound.

There are many bird species worldwide, but not all are blue. Examples of a few bluebirds include blue jays, scrub jays, blue grosbeaks, great blue herons, and cerulean warblers, all of which have admirable blue hues.

However, in this post, we will be discussing about baby bluebirds which shall mainly include Eastern Bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds, and Western bluebirds and explore their diet, appearance, habitat, and much more.

Identification

Bluebirds are not bigger than the size of an adult hand. They come under the medium-sized bird category. Most bluebirds have thin, strong beaks for plucking insects and berries off the ground.

Bluebirds, in general, possess the above-stated features. Moreover, if observed, some bluebirds have blue eggs. The eggs they lay are blue due to the increased amounts of biliverdin in the bluebird’s body.

Species

The most common types of bluebirds found across North America are:

  • Eastern Bluebirds
  • Western Bluebirds
  • Mountain bluebirds

These bluebirds possess similar physical characteristics and have shades of blue imprinted on their bodies.

Western Bluebirds are very similar to Eastern bluebirds. It is challenging to differentiate between the two species. The difference is that Western bluebirds are considerably brighter and darker than Eastern bluebirds. They have a blue band under their chin and a buffy rust chest.

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Eastern Bluebirds have bright blue bodies with an orange chest that starts right below their thin beaks. Their bead-like shiny black eyes add to the cuteness of their look. Moreover, Eastern bluebirds are found in the East, on the Rocky Mountains, while the Western bluebirds are towards the west of the Rocky Mountains.

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Mountain Bluebirds are different in appearance from the other two birds. They are entirely blue with no orange-rust chest. They are grayish-blue overall and have a thin straight black bill. These bird species are found in the Rocky Mountain ranges through the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

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FUN FACT

Bluebirds use the ‘ground-sallying’ technique to perch for food.

Habitat

If we talk about the bluebird’s habitat, we will come across many places where these beautiful birds can be found. Bluebirds love grasslands and parks. They like to hunt for insects in the grass, and plants within the gardens which also help provide them with plenty of perching space.

Open woodlands are what they mainly prefer, as places clouted with trees block their sight. Their sight is what enables them to spot good feeding areas and protect themselves from potential predators.

FUN FACT

Bluebirds mostly perch on farmlands, vineyards, and parks. Place bluebird boxes there to capture a sight of these pretty birds.

Migration

Bluebirds are migratory birds and may travel south in search of warm locations to nest. Bluebirds are commonly found in the United States and Canada for the summers and warmer areas throughout the winter season.

The migration period towards the south begins in August, and migration towards the north starts in March.

INTERESTING FACT

The mountain bluebird can be found in Alaska in the summer season.

Nesting Behavior

The fascinating bluebirds are cavity nesters. They prefer nesting in tree holes and other hole structures. These birds are responsible for their babies during the incubation period. Once the babies hatch, the parents have to feed them and clean the fecal sacs that the babies excrete.

Bluebirds look for insects on the ground, then carry them in their mouth for their young ones. The female bluebird produces a clutch size of 3 to 6 dull blue eggs and incubates them for 13 to 16 days. The young birds are ready to leave the nest within 15 to 20 days from their hatched time.

PRO-TIP

It's always best to put out nest boxes in your yard in the late February period because this is when the bluebirds start to look for nesting sites.

What Do Bluebirds and Baby Bluebirds Eat?

Now that we know everything about a bluebird, let's talk about their feeding patterns.

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Bluebirds are insectivorous and their diet mainly comprises insects. When insects are rarely found, such as in the winter season, these birds shift to consuming fruits and other bird feed items that birders offer via yard feeders.

Birds prefer munching on food sources that are easily available to them. This is why there might be slight differences observed in the feeding patterns of bluebirds in the wild and bluebirds found in backyards. The placement of the bird feeders also plays an important role in attracting and feeding these delicate creatures.

Wild Bluebirds

Wild bluebirds tend to eat whatever is found by them naturally. They share a similar diet with bird species like thrushes, American robins, solitaires, hermits, and fieldfares. The food they eat depends on their habitat, the season, availability, and activity levels.

According to research, a bluebird’s stomach is 68% made for digesting insects, and the rest 32% is for consuming fruits, seeds, and other food items.

The followings items are what wild bluebirds feed on:

  • Flying insects: moths, mosquitos, and termites.
  • Medium-sized insects: crickets, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and spiders.
  • Crawling insects: caterpillars, grubs, snails, and insect larvae.
  • Berries: holly, dogwood, pokeweed, hackberries, and sumac.
  • Vine fruits and small tree fruits: cherries and grapes.

Bluebirds tend to eat insects throughout spring, summer, and early fall. When the insect population reduces, the birds then shift to other food sources such as fruits and berries in the late fall and winter seasons.

INTERESTING FACT

The southern population of birds forage on more insects throughout the year but still switch to fruit-based diets during colder times.

Yard Bluebirds

You might wonder what your yard has to offer these little birds. However, you will be surprised to know what treats bluebirds can dig into from your yard.

Yard bluebirds eat the same kind of food that they might get in other habitats. The difference is that bluebirds may get many options in backyards in terms of trees and bushes, using which they can extract fruits.

Apart from the usual insects and berries that the bluebirds like to munch on, other items that can be added to the feeders to attract these birds are:

  • Diced berries: blackberries and raspberries.
  • Mealworms: canned, dried, roasted, or live
  • Small chunks of suet.
  • Chopped peanuts without the shells.
  • Fruit chunks: pears or apples.
  • Dried fruits: blueberries, cranberries, blackcurrants, and raisins.
  • Sunflower hearts.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Bird dough.
  • Broken eggshells for calcium.

The above-mentioned food items should be offered to the birds via bird feeders. These will provide the bluebirds with a complete source of nutrients and help them maintain a healthy diet.

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It is advisable to keep open feeders in the form of trays for the bluebirds as it makes them feel more comfortable and secure to eat from. It is best to place live mealworms in plastic containers with smooth edges to prevent them from crawling outside the dish.

WARNING!

Do not spray your plants with insecticides or pesticides if you want to attract birds to your yard. It may kill them.

Baby Bluebirds

Baby bluebirds are known as hatchlings as they newly hatch. They then transition into nestlings or fledglings as they grow older. Nestlings are mainly dependent on their parents to feed them food, while the fledglings can eat all types of food that an adult bluebird can eat.

Research states that female bluebirds feed their babies more than male parents. The percentage goes as, females: 54.8% times and males: 45.2% of the time. The parents do not play an equal role in feeding and raising their young.

Their parents mainly feed nestlings the following food items:

  • Spiders
  • Beetles
  • Earthworms
  • Caterpillars
  • Grasshoppers
  • Mealworms
  • Berries

The adult bluebirds feed their babies after every ten to fifteen minutes. If you find a baby bluebird stranded on the ground, you can always pick it up carefully and provide it with:

  • Raw Liver
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Dog or cat kibble
  • Mealworms

INTERESTING FACT

Bluebirds collect more than 68% of insects during the nesting period as they need a higher source of protein during these days.

What Food Do Bluebirds Not Eat?

Every animal has its likes and dislikes.

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In this post, we have mentioned all the food sources that a bluebird would like to consume. However, there are some common food items that most bluebirds avoid. These food items are:

  • Millet
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Hummingbird Nectar
  • Mixed Bird Seeds
  • Cracked Corn
  • Whole peanut

If the staple food is not available, bluebirds tend to go for sunflower chips. They do not like hummingbird nectar because of the sweetness. Bluebirds have a short and small bill, making it difficult for them to eat a whole peanut or cracked corn.

FUN FACT

Bluebirds do not have long beaks like hummingbirds, making it difficult for them to suck all the nectar out.

How Should Bluebird Feeders Be Placed in The Yard?

Feeder placement plays a vital role in feeding the bluebirds.

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Bluebird feeders should be placed correctly as they will become a regular visiting spot for the birds. The birds should be able to view them even from a distance and get attracted to the treats that are being offered.

Placing the right kind of feeder at the right spot can support the feeding process of a bluebird. Once you have purchased your feeders, you need to keep in mind specific tips and tricks for effectively attracting the bluebirds to your yard. The tips are as follows:

  • Place the bluebird feeders in open spaces where the bluebirds often visit.
  • Window bird feeders can be placed on top of the windows with a suction cup attached to them.
  • The feeders should not be hidden and should be noticed by the bluebird from a distance.
  • Hang the bluebird feeders in visible areas of trees in your backyard.
  • You can hang multiple feeders on poles, each with different kinds of food.

PRO-TIP

Adding water sources to your backyard can be an additional attraction for the birds.

You can consider purchasing the E-Know Window Bird Feeder to make sure that you are putting out the feed correctly for these birds.

E-Know Window Bird Feeder

High-Quality 2 Pack Bird Feeders made out of heavy-duty acrylic.

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How To Take Care of Baby Bluebirds?

If you ever find a baby bluebird stranded alone, what steps should you take?

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If a baby bluebird is found, orphaned, or injured, it is always best to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Meanwhile, you can place the baby bluebird in a warm shoebox following some professional approaches and keep it safe from wild predators.

If you find a baby bluebird on the ground, the ideal thing to do would be to return it to the nest. Try to locate a nest nearby; look in trees and bushes. If you find the nest, then carefully place the baby back in its place. Make sure to carry the baby bluebird with soft towels or gardening gloves.

If you can’t find the nest or parents of the baby bird nearby, then you can try taking care of it to keep them safe and healthy.

Warmth

The first thing required to do would be to provide the baby with a warm space. You can fill a glove with warm water, cover it up with a dish towel and place it around the box that the baby bluebird is put in. Then cover the box so that some amount of heat is being provided to the featherless baby.

PRO-TIP

You can place a thermometer in the box to measure the exact temperature.

Hydrate The Baby

Once the baby is warm and cozy, you need to check up on its hydration levels. If the baby bluebird’s skin is reddish and does not spring back when gently tugged, it means that the baby needs moisture. It is important to note that no baby bird should be directly given water to keep them hydrated.

You can provide the baby with moisture-driven food that provides them with enough water to keep their body hydrated.

WARNING!

Do not give water to young birds. They may inhale the water leading to inhalation pneumonia.

Feeding

Feeding the baby will be necessary if you want it to survive.  Try to make a homemade mixture of 4 tablespoons of Karo syrup mixed with half a cup of warm water and a pinch of salt. Dip your fingers in the mix and brush the wet fingers on the baby bluebird’s beak.

If the baby can open its beak actively, you can also soak bread in the mixture mentioned above and put the tiny pieces into the bird’s beak.

The baby should be fed patiently after every fifteen minutes. Let the bird take a rest if it is too weak to open its mouth or swallow the food.

If the baby bluebird has closed eyes, it should be fed every 15 to 20 minutes. However, if the baby’s eyes are open, then the feeding can be reduced to once every 45 minutes.

PRO-TIP

You will need to feed the baby bird till it starts to stand, walk, and perch on its own.

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Keep Reading!

Having read through the post, you must now be well aware of the feeding patterns of bluebirds and their babies. You can use these tips and tricks to attract these beautiful bluebirds to your backyards.

Create a schedule to place their favorite food items, install a birdbath and grow suitable trees and bushes to provide them with a safe and comfortable environment.

Taking care of a baby bluebird might be a challenging task. The basics of what is required to take care of these babies are also covered in this post, through which you will be well-prepared to handle any unpredictable situations.

If you want to learn and discover other bluebirds, read through this blog to find out more .

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Here is a list of blue-headed birds found commonly in the USA. The post consists of everything you should know about stunning bluebirds.

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By Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Iñigo Navarro Picture

Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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