Birdwatching is a delightful hobby, and blue birds, with their striking colors, are among the most captivating creatures to observe. Here, we delve into some frequently asked questions about these charming birds, including how to feed them and create an inviting environment in your backyard.

What are some of the common blue birds?

Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird, a small thrush renowned for its vibrant blue plumage and rust-orange chest, embodies a striking blend of color and cheerfulness that brightens the landscapes of gardens and meadows across North America. This bird is often seen perched on telephone wires or fluttering low across the ground, searching for insects and berries. Known for their gentle and melodious song, Eastern Bluebirds are a symbol of happiness and renewal, which makes them a beloved subject for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Their presence is especially cherished as they are known to revisit the same nesting boxes year after year, forming a lasting bond with their chosen habitat.

Blue Grosbeak

The Blue Grosbeak, with its vivid deep blue plumage and striking chestnut wing bars, is a captivating sight in the open fields and bushy roadsides of North America, extending into Central America during the winter months. This robust songbird thrives in semi-open habitats, often found in areas recovering from disturbances like burns or floods, which provide ample insect populations and seeds, its primary food sources. The male's rich, melodious warble is not just beautiful; it's also a declaration of territory during the breeding season. Uniquely, Blue Grosbeaks are known for their ability to use their strong bills to crack open tough seeds and beetles, showcasing their adaptability in foraging.

Blue Jay

The Blue Jay, with its vibrant blue, white, and black plumage, is one of the most recognizable and widespread birds in North America. These striking birds inhabit a variety of environments, from dense forests to suburban backyards. Known for their intelligence and complex social behaviors, Blue Jays are omnivores, feeding on a diet that includes insects, nuts, seeds, and occasionally eggs and young birds from other species. A unique aspect of the Blue Jay is its ability to mimic the calls of other birds, particularly hawks, which can scare away other birds or alert fellow jays to potential dangers. Their bold color and distinctive, jarring calls make Blue Jays a notable presence wherever they reside.

Indigo Bunting

The Indigo Bunting stands out with its stunning, almost electric blue color during the breeding season, making it a spectacular sight against the green landscapes of North America. These small songbirds prefer brushy forest edges, old fields, and roadside areas, particularly where there's abundant growth of shrubs and small trees. Indigo Buntings are predominantly seed eaters, but during the breeding season, they switch to insects, which provide the high protein necessary for feeding their young. One fascinating aspect of their behavior is their nocturnal migration; they use the stars to navigate, a skill they learn when they are young. This reliance on celestial cues for migration makes them an intriguing presence.

Mountain Bluebird

The Mountain Bluebird has sky-blue feathers that seem to mirror the color of the heavens, which graces the open landscapes of the American West with its ethereal presence. These birds favor open territories such as meadows, alpine areas, and mountainous regions where they can easily spot and swoop down on their prey. Their diet mainly consists of insects and small invertebrates during the warmer months, supplemented by berries and seeds when the weather turns cold. Unique among bluebirds for their bright all-over blue color, Mountain Bluebirds are cavity nesters, often using old woodpecker holes or nest boxes provided by enthusiasts. Their ability to thrive at high altitudes and in cold temperatures shows their remarkable adaptability.

Steller’s Jay

The Steller’s Jay immediately captures attention with its striking deep blue and black plumage and a pronounced shaggy crest on its head. Native to the western forests of North America, from Alaska to Nicaragua, these bold and inquisitive birds thrive in dense coniferous woods but are also frequently seen in suburban areas near human habitation. Steller’s Jays are omnivores, feasting on a mix of nuts, seeds, insects, and even unguarded eggs and young birds from other nests. Known for their intelligence and complex social behavior, these jays are also excellent mimics, capable of imitating the calls of other bird species as well as human-made sounds, which they use to their advantage in their interactions and as a defense mechanism against predators.

What can I feed my baby blue birds

Feeding baby blue birds requires offering a nutrient-rich diet to support their rapid growth and development.
For instance, baby Eastern Bluebirds benefit greatly from a diet consisting primarily of insects such as mealworms and caterpillars, supplemented with small berries as they grow older. Similarly, young Blue Jays thrive on a more varied diet that includes minced meat, hard-boiled eggs, and softer seeds, which provide the necessary proteins and fats for their development. The Indigo Bunting's fledglings, which also require high protein intake, do well with finely chopped small insects. On the other hand, baby Mountain Bluebirds and Steller’s Jays, living in more rugged and open environments, might rely more heavily on a mixed diet of insects caught in flight and small fruits collected from their surroundings.
When feeding any baby bird, it’s crucial to mimic their natural diet as closely as possible to ensure their healthy growth and eventual successful transition to independence.

What kind of bird feeder do blue birds like

Blue birds enjoy various types of feeders based on their natural behaviors and feeding habits.
Eastern Bluebirds, for example, favor ground feeders or low platform feeders where they can easily access mealworms, their preferred food, in a setting that mimics their natural foraging on the ground. Blue Jays, known for their boldness and intelligence, are more versatile and can use larger hanging feeders that can accommodate their size and provide space for a variety of seeds and nuts. Indigo Buntings, attracted to small seeds like thistle and millet, do best with tube feeders that dispense these smaller grains. Meanwhile, Mountain Bluebirds, who primarily eat insects, might not frequently visit seed feeders but can be drawn to mealworm feeders, especially in areas where natural food sources are rare.
Each species has its preferences, and catering to these can significantly enhance the birdwatching experience, attracting these colorful visitors to your garden.

How to make a bird feeder for blue birds

A simple guide for making a bird feeder:
  1. Construct a platform feeder using untreated pine wood, ensuring a flat surface with raised edges.
  2. Drill small holes in the bottom for drainage to keep the feed dry.
  3. Paint the feeder with non-toxic, natural colors to attract blue birds without alarming them.
  4. Install a protective roof to shield the food from the elements, ensuring it remains fresh and inviting.
Specifically, you can make a more suitable feeder customized to different types of blue birds.
For example, to create a bird feeder specifically for Blue Jays, you can start by choosing durable materials such as thick wood or metal to construct a sturdy platform feeder, as Blue Jays are robust and can be quite active. The platform should be large enough to accommodate multiple birds at once and should have a slight edge to prevent seeds from spilling. Blue Jays are particularly fond of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and corn, so design the feeder with a hopper or a large flat area that can hold these larger types of feed. Consider adding a roof to shield the food from rain and snow, ensuring it stays dry and appealing. Additionally, make sure the feeder can be easily cleaned and refilled, as hygiene is crucial to prevent diseases among bird populations. Hanging the feeder on a branch or a pole with a clear view will attract more Blue Jays, as they prefer open spaces where they can keep an eye on their surroundings while they eat.

Best place to feed blue birds

When deciding on the best place to feed blue birds, considering their natural habitat preferences is key to encouraging frequent visits.
For the Mountain Bluebird, which thrives in open, relatively treeless areas, positioning a feeder in a similar environment can be highly effective. These birds prefer the edges of meadows, open woodlands, and mountainous regions, so placing a feeder in an open yard or near the edge of a garden that mimics these conditions will attract them. For Mountain Bluebirds, a ground feeder or a low-set platform feeder stocked with mealworms—an essential part of their diet—can be particularly appealing. It’s also beneficial to locate the feeder near a natural shelter like shrubs or small trees, which offers protection and a quick escape route from predators. Ensuring the feeder is visible from the air will help these birds, which often scout for food while flying, to spot it more easily. Providing a clean water source nearby, such as a birdbath, will not only help meet their hydration needs but also make your feeder even more attractive to these blue birds.

The types of bird feeders for blue birds

Each species has unique preferences of bird feeders based on its feeding habits and size:
  1. Platform Feeders: These are ideal for Eastern Bluebirds and Mountain Bluebirds. These feeders have a flat, open design that mimics the ground where these birds typically find their food. You can place mealworms, which are a favorite, along with some berries and small fruits to attract them.
  2. Tube Feeders: Perfect for Indigo Buntings, which primarily feed on small seeds. Tube feeders with smaller feeding ports prevent larger seeds from spilling out, making them perfect for dispensing millet or thistle, which are preferred by these smaller birds.
  3. Hopper Feeders: These are great for Blue Jays, known for their preference for a variety of seeds, nuts, and grains. Hopper feeders can hold a large quantity of food such as corn, peanuts, and sunflower seeds, reducing the frequency of refills and supporting the larger size and appetite of Blue Jays.
  4. Suet Feeders: Attractive to Steller's Jays, these feeders dispense suet, a high-energy food made from animal fat, which is especially important during the colder months. Suet can be mixed with seeds, nuts, and fruit bits to provide a nutritious snack that helps keep the birds warm and energized.

What's the best time to feed blue birds

Different blue birds have different optimal feeding times. Determining the best time to feed a type of bird can enhance your chances of seeing them.
For example, Indigo Buntings are most active in feeding during the early morning and late afternoon. These periods are when they are energetically foraging for food to fuel their daily activities and to sustain their offspring. By setting out food like thistle or millet in tube feeders just before dawn, you can attract these birds when they begin their day. Similarly, refreshing the feeders late in the afternoon will cater to their need to replenish energy reserves for the night. This timing not only maximizes your viewing opportunities but also supports the birds’ natural feeding rhythms, making your garden a reliable resource in their daily routine.
June 27, 2024 — Emma Mo

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