Mealworms for bluebirds

nestling bluebirds

Eastern Bluebird nestlings, Day 12.

We won’t look in the nest box anymore because now they are feathered and we don’t want to surprise them into flying before they are ready, in about a week. Although they do look pretty relaxed in this photo.

blue dad

Here is the bluebird dad looking for a perfect peanut in the bird food mix I tossed into a ceramic bowl and left on the porch railing.

He is a lively fellow. After a good feeding, and when he has helped mom bluebird feed the babies, he enjoys dive bombing squirrels and bluejays.

Young Eastern Bluebird

Here is one of the two fledglings from the first brood that still come around.

They and their parents and their little brothers and sisters have been thriving on backyard bugs, plus peanuts, suet, dried fruits, and their favorite food of all: live mealworms.

mealworms

Mealworms are the larvae of darkling beetles.

When I ordered these online they arrived in a box marked “Live Animals.” I stowed them in the refrigerator overnight (cold slows them down), then gently shook them out of their tasty newspaper and sawdust food/bed onto a baking sheet, then pushed them into the plastic container I have marked “Worms.”

I keep them in the fridge and they go kind of dormant – until feeding time when I put them outside in the bluebird feeder and they warm up and start wriggling irresistibly.

fledge

Okay, maybe it’s a little weird to order live mealworms to feed the birds. But how can I resist this little charmer?

Info from sialis.org, Feeding Mealworms to Bluebirds

It’s possible (though not proven) that baby bluebirds fed mealworms fledge earlier, are healthier, and have a higher survival rate when receiving a steady diet of mealworms for the first two weeks after hatching. Adults also need extra food during the breeding season due to increased exposure and the energy drain associated with feeding young. 

And…

Storing Mealworms: As long as the worms are at least 1″ from the container, and the sides are vertical and slippery (glass or plastic), they won’t get out. Store the worms in the refrigerator, where they go somewhat dormant and will last for several months. If your family is too grossed out by the concept, you can keep them in a small dorm-sized refrigerator. If you store them outside of the refrigerator, don’t put them in too small of a container as they will overheat and die. Also, if the weather is warm, they will pupate and turn into beetles.

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