The Eastern Bluebird is among the most beloved birds out there, though maybe not as commonly sighted as cardinals, goldfinches and other famous, brightly plumed songbirds. Their pop of brilliant azure sparks joy for those who live near a bluebird habitat, and their hearty appetite for insects makes them a friend to any gardener. Learn more about how you can experience the Eastern Bluebird in your life.
Where to find the Eastern Bluebird
You'll find these colorful thrushes in open areas across a wide swath of the United States, from the foot of the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean coast. Look for them in savannahs, forest clearings, fields, meadows, golf courses, and parks, and you may see one perched up high, such as on a power line, the roof of a building or a tree, watching the ground for signs of insect life. When they spot an insect or a worm, they’ll drop, fluttering their wings to slow their approach, grab the food, and quickly return to their post.
Set up a nesting box for the Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebirds are known as secondary cavity nesters, meaning they’ll nest in a hole in a tree (or a building), without excavating the hole themselves. Instead, their chosen nesting place would be in an established opening, usually one formed by a woodpecker.
However, the Eastern Bluebird has faced a shortage of available nesting real estate, which has threatened their population during the 20th century. Land development created a deficiency of the dead or dying trees that accommodate these nests. On top of that, the arrival of invasive bird species, both the House Sparrow and the European Starling, tightened the competition for available nesting space.
The good news is, thanks to the nesting box efforts of people and birding organizations, their populations have bounced back. So if your land happens to be near an open habitat, consider supporting your local bluebird by installing a nesting box before the start of the next nesting season! For information and resources, follow this link to the North American Bluebird Society.
Nesting boxes also provide excellent bird-watching. For example, you'll know the box is about to get claimed when you see a male perched on the roof, waving his wings. Though he'll place some grasses inside the box, that's just a showy part of the Eastern Bluebird’s courtship ritual. It's the female that will build the nest and incubate the eggs. After the first group of nestlings fledges, the parents will go on to raise one or two more broods of chicks. Meanwhile, the older generation of young remains close to help their parents feed their babies. To make the nesting season memorable, consider installing a wireless camera.
Where does the Eastern Bluebird go in the winter?
As colder weather sets in, their insect-heavy diets switch to berries and other fruits, and they’ll set aside their breeding season rivalries to form foraging flocks. Keep the nesting box out, though (or hang it up before the onset of winter), because Eastern Bluebirds may use it for roosting to keep warm. However, the farther north you live, the more likely you are to say farewell to the Eastern Bluebirds for the winter. They move southward for more abundant food supplies.
Attracting the Eastern Bluebird to your feeder
The feeder isn’t as frequent a hangout for the Eastern Bluebird as it is for finches, chickadees, and jays. But when feeders contain finely chopped, nutritious seeds like those in Lyric Fine Tunes No Waste Mix, the Eastern Bluebird may fly in for a landing.