The Lovely Bluebirds Need Your Help
In the US there are three Bluebird species Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis), Mountain Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides) and Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana). The Eastern and Western Bluebird males are brightly coloured with bright blue feathers on their back, heads and throat with white bellies and red chests. The Mountain Bluebird has a bright blue back, head, throat and chest with white underneath. Female Bluebirds are slightly duller in colour. Birds in the southern states are usually permanant although northern bluebirds migrate to the southern states during the winter.
Bluebird Habits and Habitats
Blue birds eat mainly insects including grasshoppers, beetles, crickets and katydids. They also eat spiders, centipedes, snails earthworms etc. A small part of their diet consists of fruit, especially important during times of scarcity of insects. In the winter they may eat wild grape, hackberry seeds, hawthorn etc. They feed on insects by sitting on a high perch then flying down to scoop up insects close to the ground. During they often gather together in groups, seeking cover where good food sources are available.
All blue birds are highly territorial and nest in trees on open grassland. They are cavity nesters, usually making their nests inside hollow trees, and will raise two or three (occasionally four) broods each year. While in the nest the young are vulnerable to predators such as racoons, snakes and cats and the adults are also vulnerable while sitting on the nest to sparrows and starlings.
Decline of the Bluebirds
During the last century their numbers were decimated due to a number of factors, including predation by sparrows and starlings, the use of pesticides and the destruction of their nesting habitats. It is estimated that by the 1970s their numbers had declined by at least 70%. Birdwatching organizations made a concerted effort to help bluebirds by providing nesting places for them and overseeing their nesting sites to make sure they weren't attacked by sparrows or starlings. In the 1950s people in Missouri began a national Bluebird Trail by providing over 6000 bluebird houses and in 1978 North American Bluebird Society was formed to promote their nesting and breeding. if you would like to help bluebirds yourself you can set up your own Bluebird Trail with a series of bluebird boxes in a suitable area. Bluebird houses are available or you could make your own.
How to Make a Bluebird Trail
A country area with scattered trees and very light undergrowth is the best place for a Bluebird Trail. There should also be places for them to roost such as wires, fences and trees. Good places for bluebird trails include the remote parts of parks, golf courses or even cemeteries but make sure anywhere you are going to use has not recently been treated with pesticides. Don't put your bluebird trail in areas that are thickly wooded. You should place a series of bluebird houses at intervals of about 200 yards and between four and six feet above the ground.
Due to the efforts of individuals and birdwatching societies the numbers of bluebirds have increased, although they're still vulnerable to predators. the yearly Backyard Bird Count by Cornell University in 2005 reported that bluebirds was seen in many southern US states indicating that the bluebirds have successfully return to these areas.
Attract Bluebirds to Your Garden
To attract bluebirds to your garden you can place darkling beetle grubs (which are available to buy either online or your local pet store) or water soaked raisins on platform garden bird feeders. They will also be attracted by heated birdbaths especially during the winter months.
How to Attract Bluebirds
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