How to Attract Eastern Bluebirds to Your Yard
Whether you’ve been bird watching for years or you’re just getting started, spotting a rare species of bird around your house is always thrilling. Here in eastern South Dakota, we’re used to seeing robins, sparrows, chickadees, or the occasional cardinal around our neighborhoods. But in this article, we’ll offer you several tips for attracting a less common species of bird: the Eastern Bluebird.
Eastern Bluebirds are loved for their brilliant blue feathers, soft round eyes, and pleasant song. Although they are rare in our parts, it’s quite possible to attract these striking songbirds to your yard with the right preparation and supplies. If you’re up for a fun bird-watching challenge this summer, keep reading to learn more about this sought-after species.
Eastern Bluebird Basics
Eastern Bluebirds are members of the thrush family. They are common in many eastern states in the U.S. and may be spotted in eastern South Dakota from late April through July. Male bluebirds have a bright blue head, back, and wings, with auburn breast feathers. Females are lighter in color, with grey backs and spots of blue on their tail and wings.
Eastern Bluebirds enjoy open and semi-open habitats like fields, meadows, parks, or large yards scattered with trees.
As a relatively small species, Eastern Bluebirds build their nests in natural cavities like old woodpecker holes and rotting fence posts. They will also choose human-made bird boxes if they are the right size (more on that below).
In the summer months, Eastern Bluebirds primarily feed on small insects like crickets, grasshoppers, and beetles. During winter, they eat berries when insects are scarce. Some say the Eastern Bluebirds’ favorite food is mealworms.
Preparing Your Yard for Bluebirds
Keeping these points in mind, here are several tips for attracting Eastern Bluebirds to your yard during the warmer months.
- Put out a tray feeder. Tray feeders are elevated platforms on which you can easily spread bird food. To allure Eastern Bluebirds, try spreading mealworms (live or dried) on the platform. Some bird watchers have also found success with soft raisins pre-soaked in water.
- Try a bird bath. Some birds don’t care for artificial bird baths—but Eastern Bluebirds tend to flock to them! Ask a team member at Nyberg’s Ace to show you our selection.
- Build a nest box. Simple nest boxes are easy to build and may invite Eastern Bluebirds to nest in your yard for the summer. When constructing your box, aim for a 4″x4″ bottom and a 2″ entrance hole. Attach the box to a post in an open area, 5 to 6 feet off the ground. Note: House sparrows may also attempt to occupy your nest box. Keep an eye on the birds surrounding the box; if you notice sparrows moving in and out, you may need to remove their nest. This article explains the differences between sparrow and Eastern Bluebird nests.
- Mind your pets. Like most songbirds, Eastern Bluebirds won’t feel safe nesting around your home if dogs or cats roam the area. If your pets are in your backyard frequently, you could try placing your feeders and bird boxes in the front of your home.
- Be patient and consistent. Finally, remember that Eastern Bluebirds only visit our region for roughly three months out of the year. If you don’t find success drawing them to your yard this season—there’s always next summer! Consistently offering food, baths, and nesting shelter is the best way to “convince” Eastern Bluebirds to make your yard an annual summer stop.
We hope you get to experience the joy of watching beautiful Eastern Bluebirds around your home. For more pointers and bird watching supplies, stop by a local Nyberg’s Ace this spring. We offer one of the region’s widest selections of bird feeders, baths, seeds, and more. Whatever types of birds you want to see in your yard this summer, we can help. Good luck!