How to Welcome Bluebirds to Your Yard
Want blue in your garden? Invite bluebirds to set up housekeeping.
In song and story, bluebirds fly over the rainbow and bring happiness. When bluebirds nest in your yard, it is joyful. These brightly tinted native birds share their gentle personalities, warbling song and brilliant color. Even better, bluebirds live on insects, which means having them around helps keep bugs in check.
But the most important reason to invite bluebirds is because they can use the help. Bluebirds have a history that includes a serious decline in numbers due to things like suburban sprawl, habitat removal, competition from non-native invasive bird species and widespread pesticide use. Efforts at providing nest boxes for bluebirds have helped numbers rebound, but there’s still room for improvement. When you choose to welcome bluebirds to your yard, you’re helping to save a native species. That’s green living at its best.
There are three types of bluebirds: Eastern, Mountain or Western. Attract any of these blues by following a few simple steps.
Bluebirds live in areas that are open—near farm fields, meadows and open woodland. These perky songsters aren’t shy to live in a typical yard, as long as there’s an open lawn area that provides good insect hunting. Bluebirds hunt insects from a perch, observing the surrounding landscape until they spot a potential meal—then they pounce. In most neighborhoods, perches are widely available, including utility wires, street signs and fences. Bluebirds also perch on mailboxes, basketball backboards and garden trellises.
In the wild, bluebirds nest in holes in a dead tree. Bluebird nest box designs mimic a tree cavity. Many types of next boxes exist, including the traditional wooden box often seen on golf courses or public lands, to the Gilbertson PVC box, which is painted to resemble a white birch tree trunk. Do some research to discover which box style provides the best fit for your setting. Local bluebird organizations exist coast to coast, and Sialis.org provides a wealth of free info for bluebird hosts. In the South, aim to have nest boxes in place by February; in northern areas, by mid- to late March.
Bluebirds flock to the sound of moving water. A fountain or birdbath dripper can be a big help in beckoning bluebirds.
During nesting season, bluebirds feast on insects. Reduce pesticide use around your home, yard and garden. Bluebirds can’t resist live mealworms in a feeder. During winter, bluebirds also eat berries and small fruit. Native plants like dogwoods, eastern red cedar, holly, pokeweed and viburnums offer berries bluebirds love.