We love all birds, but we particularly adore bluebirds. We have had great success with birds nesting and raising their young in bluebird boxes we installed in Maryland and continued with the tradition of putting up bluebird boxes when we came to Florida. We have always had a successful nesting in our boxes. I recently became aware that not everyone has seen or knows about bluebirds on the east coast, so I’m using this blog to talk about eastern bluebirds.
Eastern bluebirds were in trouble at one point because they use cavcities in trees to raise their young and the changes humans made to the environment significantly reduced their nesting options and the introduction of starlings and house sparrows which compete with nesting space decimated the bluebird numbers. To save the species, people started putting up bluebird boxes and creating “bluebird trails” of nest boxes and the bluebird numbers increased. The proper nest box will exclude starlings but sparrows continue to be a problem.
Bluebirds appear blue but do not have blue feathers. The blue color is a result of the light shining on the feathers. They will look more or less vivid depending on the light. The male is a more vivid blue than the female. Bluebirds eat insects and love open areas where they can look for insects. They will perch on a high point, look for insects, and then swoop down to catch them.
You can attract them to your yard by having a source of water, a nest box that suits them, and proper food. They love live mealworms but will also eat Bark Butter Bits (a Wild Birds Unlimited item) and shelled sunflower seeds.
As a volunteer with the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, I have had the opportunity to raise baby bluebirds and release them. These are precious, gentle birds and easy to raise if they are healthy. Once released, they come back for a few weeks to get food supplements while they figure out how to be on their own. Immediately after release, they will return and land on my head and shoulders waiting for food. Eventually, they land nearby. After a couple weeks, they are good to go and no longer return for food. Having bluebirds land on your shoulder is an amazing experience.
Here in Palencia, the golf course has installed 46 nest boxes to attract bluebirds.
Linda’s recent book Basic Guide to Birds Found Near Water in St. Augustine is now available at Wild Birds Unlimited in Murabella at 108 Capulet Drive, #5 in St. Augustine.
One final note: I am thrilled to report Regis won second place in the year end print competition of the Florida Camera Club Council with an image of the estuary behind our house.