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Eastern Bluebird
(Sialia sialis)

Habitat Requirements


General

Ideal eastern bluebird habitat consists of scattered hardwoods and grasslands in a rural setting. Frequently used grassy areas include meadows, pastures, yards, roadsides, power line rights-of-way, and farmlands. Mowed areas such as golf courses, large lawns, and grazed areas provide suitable habitat as well. Open grassy areas provide foraging habitat, and nearby trees serve as perching or possible nesting sites. Although eastern bluebird populations are on the rise, the largest threat to their future is the continued loss of nesting habitat. By protecting snags (dead or dying standing trees) and properly managing open grassy areas, landowners can assist in the continued success of eastern bluebirds and other species that rely on similar habitat.

Food

Approximately two-thirds of the diet of an adult eastern bluebird consists of insects and other invertebrates. The remainder of the bird's diet is made up of wild fruits. Favored insect foods include grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and beetles. Other food items include earthworms, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, sow bugs, and snails. Fruits are especially important when insects are scarce in the winter months. Some preferred winter food sources include dogwood, hawthorn, wild grape, and sumac and hackberry seeds. Supplemental fruits eaten include blackberries, bayberries, fruit of honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, red cedar, and pokeberries. Bluebirds feed by perching on a high point, such as a branch or fence post, and swooping down to catch insects on or near the ground. The availability of a winter food source will often determine whether or not a bird will migrate. If bluebirds do remain in a region for the winter, they will group and seek cover in heavy thickets, orchards, or other areas in which adequate food and cover resources are available.

Important eastern bluebird food items. The following species are known to be important food items in the diet of eastern bluebirds. Those species in bold print are of particular value for their usefulness as a winter food source.

Insects and other invertebrates:
grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, beetles, earthworms, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, sow bugs, and snails

Plants and Fruits:
dogwood, hawthorn, wild grape, sumac seeds, hackberry seeds, blackberries, bayberries, honeysuckle, red cedar, pokeberries, and Virginia creeper

These plant species may be used to enhance vegetation that already exists in and along open areas, brush and fence rows, and woodlots. Adding these species to those currently existing will enhance both food and insect availability for eastern bluebirds.


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