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Bluebird Projects

Many people live near bluebirds. You can have fun with your backyard bluebirds in many ways. Our ideas:

  • Build a bluebird house or make a bluebird trail.
    For information on how to get and where to set out bluebird houses, and how to protect your nesting bluebirds, see:
  • Make a bluebird feeder. You will need
    • A supply of mealworms
    • Storebought feeder or some sort of plastic dish

    Photo copyright 2002 by Dennis Malueg

    If you know where a bluebird lives, set out mealworms in a dish or tube-type bluebird feeder. You can purchase mealworms at petstores, bird feeding stores, or in large quantities at places such as Grubco or Rainbow Mealworms. Whistle or make some other sound every time you put the mealworms in the feeder. If your bluebirds take them, notice whether they eat them right away, take them someplace else to eat, or bring them to their babies or mate. Do they learn to associate your visits with food? How can you tell?
  • Photography:You will need
    • Camera or videocamera
    • Film (unless you're working with a digital camera)
    • Nesting bluebirds
Bluebird Family Sharing Mealworms
Photo by Mary Strasser

Bluebirds sometimes sit on perches for many minutes, so they aren't too hard to photograph. The easiest way to get good photos of them is to set up a camera on a tripod, focused on a perch your bluebird often uses. You can also snap pictures or videotape when the bluebirds are coming in and out of their house or eating at a feeder.

  • Map a bluebird's home range. You will need
    • Graph paper
    • Compass (the kind for drawing circles)
    • Compass (the kind for pointing directions)
  • If a bluebird moves into your bluebird house, map its home range. Pay close attention to where the male bluebird sings. Then use graph paper to draw out a map of the area. Mark in the plants and structures that the bluebird uses as perches. Every time you see the bluebird or hear it singing, mark the spot on your map. After you have a lot of marks, you'll have a good idea of where the bluebird's favorite places are on its territory. If you use one color for sightings of the male and a different color for sightings of the female, you may learn how they divide up some of their hunting and other chores.

  • Keep a bluebird diary. You will need
    • A field notebook
    • A cooperative bluebird

If you know where a pair of bluebirds lives, keep track of what they're doing day after day. If bluebirds live near school, different students can add diary entries to a class field notebook. If you observe them carefully, you may note how they find food, how often they eat, what sights and sounds make them hide or fly away, how long it takes after a perceived danger passes by before they come out again, and other interesting behaviors. You can also keep track of any details about what they're feeding their babies, how often they remove fecal sacs, and other interesting behaviors you notice. Share your discoveries with us!

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