Friday, April 5, 2013

My Love of Bird Watching: Eastern Bluebirds

Female Eastern Bluebird with a meal worm.

One of my favorite things to do is feed the birds.  I feed all kinds.  Some of my favorites are Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Chickadees and Woodpeckers.  Of course I'll feed anything that stops by my feeders, just don't get me started on the Grackles, Starlings and House Sparrows. Of the birds I feed one always gets me excited and that's the Bluebird.  It may be because I only spotted my first one about four years ago.  Never before had I seen one anywhere but in books, even though I've always lived in the country.  The other reason I love seeing them is their beautiful coloring.  Such a brilliant, bright blue and orange.

Male Eastern Bluebird

 Even the drab female boasts some color.

Male watches while female eats.

About two years ago my hubby bought me a Bluebird house which we promptly mounted on a 4x4 post and stuck in the front yard.  Like magic we soon had a family living in it.  Not all has been roses though.  A family of cats decided to take up residence outside my house and one day while mowing I found patches of the beautiful blue feathers scattered around the yard.  Then to make matters worse my husband was checking the box to see if anything was in it and the female startled him by flying out as he lifted the front lid.  His reaction was to slam the lid shut and well, you get where I'm going, yes she pretty much wasn't going anywhere after that.
Then a few months ago my husband was at work talking to some friends about how we have Bluebirds and have been unsuccessfully feeding them dehydrated meal worms that we bought at the local garden center.  A friend mentioned that her family was raising meal worms (as food for her pet) and she'd give him some to get a system started.  Now up until this point the birds had relied on fresh bugs they found in the ground and other stuff they found themselves.  I had never really seen them eat the dehydrated worms but still gave them to the birds just in case they wanted to try them.  Last Summer when I was weeding one day I decided to gather up all the disgusting grubs I found and put them in the Bluebird feeder.  To my surprise they devoured them right away.  This is when I realized that live was the only way to go.  They don't want dead, dry food they want fresh, live prey.  So we jumped at the chance to raise our own food for the birds.
At first I was like, "Yikes, what are we going to have to do with these things!"  but really there is not that much involved.  My husband found a 10 gallon aquarium and poured a couple containers of rolled oats into it.  He added the worms and few beetles the friend had given him and then laid two or three carrot sticks down for them to feed on.  Then he covered everything with a single layer of newspaper.  We were shocked when we looked in a couple days later and they had nearly eaten all of the carrots!  We've had a couple of life cycles happen since we've been raising them, storing them in heat speeds up the cycle while storing in a cooler environment slows the life cycle down.  We keep ours right inside our basement door, pretty cool and even.  It is so awesome being able to walk in, grab the little scoop and pick out a couple tasty critters for my birds, and they love it too.  I swear when they see me in the morning they sit and wait for me to deliver their breakfast right to their door.

Worms in scoop.

New signature photo Clarissa_zpsbvf3pcj7.jpg

No comments:

Post a Comment