Bluebirds in winter

Danbury, CT(Zone 6a)

I didn't see any thread about this subject matter specifically, so I thought I'd start one to see what other's experience has been.

This will be the sixth year we've been hosting bluebirds. Each year, we've had bluebirds come and nest in the spring and then after the babies fledge, they usually leave after a couple of weeks. This past summer, our bluebirds had 2 broods, and this was the first time for us that happened. Of course I am overjoyed to have helped twice as many bluebirds come into the world. Usually, I don't see much of them over the fall/winter. Oddly enough, I get a visit every Thanksgiving and then don't see them again until spring. It's as if they stop by to say goodbye before going more south. This year, we've had the bluebirds around all through the winter. As our work life has changed and we are not home as much as we used to be, shorter daylight hours, etc. we have less opportunity to see what's going on in our yard. Even so, we've seen them now and then. A flock of 5 would show up and would take turns going inside the nest box, hang on the outside, the roof, flying to the nearby trees, etc. Just like they do in spring. So I thought they were staking it out for spring time. Then recently they started going into the box just as the sun is going down and the temps start to lower for the night. They would all get in there together to keep warm.

Yesterday, I saw the most I've ever seen, 7 bluebirds flew to my yard. Lucky me, I was there to see it. They went into the nest box and we thought it was over for the night, but they must have had a hard time getting comfortable as they all kept flying out and then back in. They did this a few times, everyone file out, everyone file back in, until they must have finally gotten it right and they stayed put. My husband quickly set up the camera and we managed to get some video through the window. It was so cold and windy, I didn't want to risk scaring them away by opening the window, and have them miss out on having shelter for the night.

I have read about bluebirds staying the winter and using nest boxes for shelter. It's just never happened to me before. I'm so happy to see them, but I do hope they are able to survive the cold winter. We have seeds and suet out for the other birds. I know BB's don't eat seeds, or rarely do (mine don't) and I have yet to see them eat any suet. I'd like to be able to offer them something. I could probably put some meal worms out, but I don't know if they would go for non-wiggling (cold) meal worms. We have a birdbath with a heater too.

Anyone here have their BB's stay the (cold) winter? If so, are you able to feed them?



Danbury, CT(Zone 6a)

I uploaded 2 videos of my BB's going to bed for the night.

Last night:

Night before last (through the window, but more BB action):

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Hello Jen,

Welcome to DG and thank you for sharing those fabulous videos on those adorable Blue Birds. I'm relatively new to hosting BBs and I live in a much warmer zone where BBs overwinter here quite comfortably (I presumed), and I've success of offering them mealworms during the winter right on through spring for the juveniles BBs as well & other small song birds. As far as the non-wiggling meal worms I haven't tried them before so I do not know if they will work? I learned that Blue Birds do indeed roost in side nest boxes. But to see a whole "family" of them sharing a box -- it's so heart warming!

Best of lucks, hopefully other more experienced Blue Birds hosts/hostesses will chime in soon.

Fellow birder from the South.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

No experience with Bluebirds, but some experience feeding other wild and domestic birds. We would mix shiny glass marbles (that were too large to swallow) with food or drink for baby chicks to get it to catch their eye so they would peck at it, until they learned to recognize it as something edible. Then we could leave out the marbles.

I would offer live meal worms from the pet store in a sunny sheltered spot, maybe mixed with some small soft fruit (to attract the eye). Then live mixed with freeze dried, then just the freeze dried. Then meal worms and suet. They should get the idea. Pet stores usually carry crickets, too. You can't store them in the fridge like meal worms, but initially they might be more lively outdoors. I don't know what to suggest for a container that the birds could fly in and out of that would keep the crickets in, though.

I have been considering putting up a "warming hut" house for over-wintering birds - probably chickadees in my case. I would probably have to take it down during nesting season to keep the sparrows out. But it would be useful on nights like tonight - it is supposed to get down to 13 F, and we have had one night -3 F (-10 & -19 C).

Grand-Falls, NB(Zone 4a)

Hi Jen, I enjoyed watching your video. I would love to see them in my yard. It's so great you get to see them in winter as well. I would think your bluebirds would still go for the mealworm, if you set them up at the same place you used too. Even if they don't wiggle, the bluebird are use to getting them in the same spot as before.

Here's a site that mention the food for winter.

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