Bluebirds: North America’s Favorite Thrush
Bluebirds: North America’s Favorite Thrush

The colorful birds are a welcome perennial guest across the continent

All throughout North America, bluebirds are known as cheerful, friendly seasonal visitors, signaling summer and providing bursts of color throughout treetops and gardens. For more than a hundred years, natural habitats and nest cavities for bluebirds were disappearing, but in recent years, all species of bluebird — Eastern, Western and Mountain — have made an inspiring comeback, thanks in large part to the thousands of nesting boxes being installed across the continent.

According to statistics from The Audubon Society’s Breeding Bird Survey, estimates of the Eastern Bluebird population show an increase of 2.4 percent for each year since 1966, and according to John Schaust, Chief Naturalist at Wild Birds Unlimited, that steady uptick is the result of a concerted effort to support the species’ revival.

“Bluebirds prefer to nest in cavities found in trees, but they don’t have the strong bill required to excavate them themselves, so they depend on natural cavities, the previously used cavities of other birds and nesting boxes,” he said. “Unfortunately, development has destroyed much of the natural habitat, and the bluebird populations dropped as a result. Thankfully, through the conservation efforts of concerned citizens, we have been able to reverse that trend by encouraging the installation and maintenance of man-made nesting boxes. Bluebirds prefer wide open spaces, with few trees, many suburban lawns and pastures are a perfect place for humans to set up nesting boxes and help bluebirds make their comeback.”

The survival of all three bluebird species can be attributed to our aesthetic appreciation of the birds, whose color, songs and small size have made them associated with peace and cheer.

“Think of ‘Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder’ from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” Schaust said. “Bluebirds signal happiness and people are excited to bring them to their yards.”

“Bluebirds need safe, quality nest boxes to raise families,” he said. “The Wild Birds Unlimited Bluebird House is officially approved by the North American Bluebird Society and is designed with the right dimensions to protect from weather and extreme temperatures, so we point our customers to that.”

Wild Birds Unlimited also offers specialty food to attract bluebirds, but Schaust says their favorite food is the mealworm.

“We recommend water, mealworms, bark butter bits and sunflower chips,” he said. “Mealworms are the ideal snack. They provide the protein and nutrients that both adult and baby bluebirds need, and it’s easy to attract bluebirds with a small dish filled with mealworms. Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter Bits and sunflower chips offer the protein and fats that bluebirds desire.”

Those who decide to build a home for bluebirds in their yard will find a lasting reward, Schaust says, as the birds are known to return to the same breeding territory each year.

“While only a small percentage of bluebirds return to where they hatched, adult bluebirds visit the same breeding ground year after year.”

For Schaust, bluebirds aren’t just a lovely perennial guest, they are also a compelling introduction to the hobby of birdwatching, one that has brought many new customers to Wild Birds Unlimited.

“Because bluebirds make stops all across North America, and because they are so beautiful, they are often the bird that sparks an interest in birding,” he says. “People come to our stores to find out how they can attract bluebirds, and they learn so much from our owners and staff, and suddenly the doors are opened to a whole new passion for them.”

As the summer heads toward its peak, it’s not too late to outfit your yard with everything that will attract bluebirds. Putting up a nesting box now, will allow bluebirds to scout it and keep it in mind for the next nesting season. Many bluebirds are year-round residents in their region, offering water sources and foods may attract them to your yard and keep them through the winter months.

With more than 300 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores. Recently ranked No. 2 overall and No. 1 in the Retail category on Franchise Business Review’s prestigious 2018 Franchisee Satisfaction Awards, there's no better time to join the Wild Birds Unlimited team. Click here to learn more.