11 Tips on How to Attract Bluebirds to Your Yard (2020)

Tori Rhodes
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Install a Hunting Perch

Hunting perches are commonly found in the edges of woods, or on utility poles. For those of us that do not have a woods, or utility poles, a hunting perch can be mounted in a tree/shrub (such as a lilac bush) or on a fence. Bluebirds love hunting from these perches, and bask in the sun on them as well.

Some birds may, however, take a while to come to your yard, so there are a few things that you can do to attract them quickly. One is to put up a simple platform on which they can sit and look out over the yard at possible predators or prey. A piece of 4‖6 inch square lumber with a few 3‖4 inch scraps of the same size will do nicely. Paint it blue and install it in a visible part of the yard.

Tempt With Live Mealworms

It’s tempting to try to provide a mealworm to your bluebird friends. Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle, which is a dark red beetle with a black head and long antennae. Tiny mealworms can be found inside white, spindle-shaped cases, about one inch in length. If you wish to use mealworms as a food source for your bluebird, it is necessary to raise your own mealworms.

Bluebirds eat earthworms, and keeping your yard mulched or at least closely mowed, will encourage them to make your yard their home.

Also, a thick lawn encourages bluebirds to take advantage of it as a food source.

If you have bluebirds in your neighborhood, they may use an existing nesting box made by another, so never disturb or challenge an occupied box, even if you are trying to clean it out or restore it.

Play a Recorded Bluebird Song

Bluebirds are very territorial. Once they find a mate and a suitable nesting site, they seldom stray more than a mile or so from it. Because of this, they’re fairly easy to attract if you do it right.

The key is to get a few in the area at first and let them check things out for a bit. Once they’ve seen that there’s enough food to support them here, they’ll be more than happy to sing and stay for good.

If you want to attract bluebirds, you can purchase a bluebird box online or they are sometimes available at your local pet store.

Use Bluebird Specific Feeders

When you want to lure bluebirds to your yard or garden, you have to learn what kind of feeders they like. Although many people rejoice the arrival of bluebird to their yard, there are actually still some who have not really taken attention into the fact that bluebirds are very specific on the kinds of feeders they like. You see, not all bird tie-pigeon or cardinal-will get along with. The bluebirds, in turn, prefer a certain kind of feeder to it’s food. To attract bluebirds, you need to use a feeder that they like. You also need to build a habitat that gives them shelter from the weather, warmth in the winter and a place to raise their families.

Add a Birdbath

A birdbath is an easy way to attract all kinds of birds to your home!

You can buy a simple birdbath kit from a major hardware or garden store. Or you can get creative with your own homemade birdbath.

A feral cat will one day decide to use it as a litter box. Do not leave your birdbath outside when it gets cold.

If you have a pet bird, place your birdbath out of reach or inside the coop.

Bluebirds will feebly bathe while eating just about anything they can find beside their nest.

Even though they have oil on their feathers, bluebirds tend to bathe frequently when it is hot and humid or when they are exhausted.

Once you have a birdbath, you will notice more birds taking a quick dip in your yard.

It will be a sight to see a robin dunking its head in the water before hopping off to explore your yard.

Install a Nestbox

Black-capped Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, Tree Swallows, and Eastern Bluebirds are all cavity nesters that will readily utilize nestboxes placed in yards and trees.

Install a proper nestbox to provide the birds with shelter and food over the winter. Nestboxes can also serve as an aid for bird-watching. You can identify which birds are visiting your yard and when.

Provide Nesting Material

Birds need material to build their nests, so make sure they’ve got plenty. Rather than relying on what they can find in nature, buy or gather it for them in a central area of your yard near a birdbath.

The type of material to use varies depending on what’s available in your area: grasses, reeds, bark, pine needles, cattails, maple and willow twigs, vine, and some old shirts or towels work well.

Be sure to provide this material year-round. The perfect area will have a nearby water source, a basking spot for the new bird and a separate area for pan bathing.

Mealworms or small bits of dog food can be tucked into the nesting material. Most birds will not come to a yard if it is overgrown or if you don’t keep up a regular feeding schedule, so keep the lawn mowed and trimmed and the tree branches thinned.

But do trim them in spring, before nesting season, to reduce brush and stick hazards.

A platform feeder is ideal, but if birds shy away from these (as they can be a bit scary), ridge pole feeding or attaching a house directly to a tree or pole should work instead.

Provide Natural Shelter

Bluebirds need a natural environment that allows them to go about their daily lives undisturbed. There are many ways to provide a natural environment for them

Although bluebirds will nest in many different types of cavities in trees, they prefer natural cavities, such as those in a sand bank, rocky cliff, or mixed hardwood-conifer.

Natural cavities are preferred because they are less likely to be used by other birds. The two most common natural tree cavities used by bluebirds are the dead limbs on dead and decaying trees and the cavities in trees blown down during storms.

Bluebirds occasionally use abandoned woodpecker cavities, but most will redecorate them every year. They prefer natural cavities because the same type of cavity can often be used year after year.

Eliminate Common Threats

Even the best-intentioned homeowners have accidentally killed bluebirds unintentionally. Many bluebirders fear that they, too, will kill a bluebird unknowingly. So they end up failing to attract even one bluebird to their yards.

To screw that up, eliminate these major threats to bluebirds:

  • Rat Poison
  • Window Strikes
  • Poison Lawn Care Products
  • Dead Nestlings

Plant Native Plants

Many homeowners wanting to attract bluebirds choose non-native trees because they're easy to care for. Unfortunately, non-native plants aren't the best choice for bluebird habitat.

Non-native plants often have aggressive growth habits (grow too big, grow too fast), require more water (creating a water demand that outstrips the rainwater supply), take over native vegetation (destroying nesting and foraging habitat), or are not nutritious enough for bluebirds (lack of insect food).

The good news is bluebirds are often adaptable enough to find ways to use non-native plants. This means you may be able to find enough insects to feed your bluebirds from your yard whether you have a small meadow or a backyard full of non-native shrubs.

Focus on planting native species that will produce an abundance of insects and nectar for bluebirds. Try plants like asters, grasses, legumes, fruit trees, and trees that bloom twice a year.

Of course, you can have native trees, shrubs, and flowers in your yard, and try to add a mix of different types of plants for diversity. Make sure to include the following:

Food : Nectar-producing flowers provide a food source in the form of sucrose. Insects provide the fatty acids required to produce the energy nectar contains.

Keep Your Fields Open

Bluebirds typically hunt over open meadows and grasslands, where they can easily spot caterpillars, insects and snails for their nests and food.

In contrast, if you have fields covered with a layer of grass, shrubs and bushes, bluebirds are less likely to want to set up their home in such an area.

As a solution, consider maintaining some of your grass with controlled burns to create some open space on your land for the bluebirds to explore.

You can also remove any underbrush that will end up reducing the amount of nesting options for your bluebirds. Since underbrush attracts insects, snails and other important food for the bluebirds to feed their offspring, this is important to do.