These insect-loving songbirds are a farmer’s best friend
By Lucy Elam
Typically recognized as a symbol of joy and happiness, the eastern bluebird is one of the friendliest species of bird around. It’s no surprise that these bluebirds are featured as the happy, helpful companions to the titular character in Disney’s Cinderella.
The cheerful birds sing to wake her up, make her bed and even help her get dressed.
While it’s pretty far-fetched to ever hope for your own personal avian valet, the eastern
bluebird is highly tolerant of human interaction, making it a backyard feeder favorite. Beautiful harbingers of spring, they can be found in open country with patchy vegetation. Meadows, fields and golf courses are good places to spot them. Here in the Lowcountry, eastern bluebirds are non-migratory, year-round residents that can fly at speeds up to 45 miles per hour and spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at the remarkable distance of over 50 yards.
During mating season, unpaired male bluebirds average four to five hundred songs per hour but may sing up to 1,000 songs per hour. The male brings nest material to the nest and defends the edges of their territory, but the female eastern bluebird is solely responsible for building the nest, incubating the eggs, and defending the nest site. Bluebirds are generally monogamous and may raise two, sometimes three, broods per season. If you set up a proper cavity nest and feeders, you might be able to watch the whole process unfold right in your backyard. These affable songbirds will not begrudge you a close look at their nest, or even the freshly hatched chicks. If you want to see the entire nesting process firsthand, you will have to roll out the red carpet and get ready to host these songbirds as soon as possible, since eastern bluebirds start nesting this month. Just remember to clean out the nest at the end of the nesting season, or they won’t come back. LL
- Bluebirds consume about 4 grams of food per day or about 12 percent of their body weight. This is equivalent to a 200-pound human eating 24 pounds of food each day.
- These birds are very family oriented. The young of the first brood will occasionally help raise their siblings in the second brood.
- Eastern bluebirds are cousins of the mountain bluebird – which is the basis for the Twitter logo.
- With their love of insects, these birds are a gardener’s best friend as they offer highly effective, natural insect control.
Where to see them
- Daufuskie Island
- Sea Pines
- Hilton Head Plantation
Eastern bluebird essentials
Find a full line of feeders, food and accessories for backyard bird feeding at Wild Birds Unlimited in Festival Centre at Indigo Park on Hilton Head Island. Now under new ownership.
- Bluebird Plant Stake
- Eastern bluebird mug – 16-ounce decorative mug that showcases the bluebird. Dishwasher and microwave safe.
- Mealworm feeder
- EcoTough eastern bluebird nesting box
- Spiral tray feeder
- Mealworms – dried or live
- Bark butter bits