Cary, NC — With the right habitat, food, water and shelter, it’s possible to bring bluebirds to your yard this year.
Who doesn’t love bluebirds? It can be argued that the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is one of the most popular songbirds in North America. They came back from near extinction in the late 20th century through the efforts of millions of Americans to stop the use of DDT and to create nesting habitats. Now, they are common sights in places like Cary.
Not every homeowner can enjoy the sight of bluebirds on their property, but the odds can be improved if you provide the amenities that bluebirds need.
The Right Habitat
Bluebirds like open spaces. Large open yards and meadows are very appealing to them, as they hunt insects in the open and prefer nesting places that are away from thick woods.
A densely shaded and thickly planted yard will likely be rejected by Bluebirds. Having an open space of some size helps. Luckily, it doesn’t need to be extremely large. Between my neighbor and me, we have a reasonably open space of a few hundred square feet, and bluebirds are regulars at my back yard feeders.
Bluebirds are not seed eaters by habit and will not visit feeders stocked with sunflower seed or other seeds and mixes. They want proteins and fats. The best option is a sunny backyard where insects are plentiful. For most homeowners, this simply means don’t cut out all the vegetation and use pesticides sparingly, if at all.
The bluebirds will repay this by destroying pest insects!
Homeowners can also provide variety by offering suet. Prepared suet cakes are inexpensive and widely available at hardware stores and home improvement centers. Or, you can make your own by following recipes available on the Internet.
Suet is especially appealing to bluebirds in the spring months when they are feeding young. Even a skilled hunter of insects may find it hard to keep up with hungry hatchlings!
Dependable, Clean Water
All birds need water, just as we do. It’s important for keeping clean and helping digest protein-heavy diets.
An easy way to keep bluebirds interested is to maintain a clean bird bath.
Bluebirds like my pedestal bath, which is cleaned at least once a week (in warm seasons, more often will be necessary) and kept ice-free in winter with an inexpensive deicer device I purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited.
The Right Nest Box
Experiment with nest boxes. The last attractant you may want to use is a bluebird-friendly nest box or two. Boxes designed specifically for bluebirds are easily obtained from hardware stores and even the State Employees Credit Union!
Handy people can make their own from plans easily downloaded from the Internet. Boxes are best mounted on a post and protected with a predator guard. Experts suggest putting boxes either in the open or just along tree lines.
Female bluebirds are choosy and will reject boxes for reasons that may be unclear. Is the location too sunny? Too shady? Too exposed? Too close to cats? The only real way to know is to experiment by putting up a box and changing locations until the bluebirds use the box. If you have a bluebird-approved site, you can see as many as three broods in a year!
Bluebirds are very sensitive to their habitats and options and cannot be attracted to every home. If you provide the right mix of needs, though, it may be possible to enjoy the sight of these delightful songbirds right outside your own window.
Be patient and willing to experiment!
- Great Blue Herons – See Them in Cary
- Bird Feeding 101 – Getting Started
- Bald Eagles – See Them in Cary
- Attract Birds to Your Backyard: Here’s How
- Meet the Backyard Winter Birds of Cary
Story and photos by David Lindquist, CaryCitizen’s expert birdwatcher. All the photos were taken at David’s home.