Tooth, texture… that’s what it’s all about here. If the surface of the feeder is not smooth as glass, the wiggly, crawly delights get hold and simply crawl right out! Now this is a huge advantage to ground feeding birds like robins – ours actually sit and wait below the mealworm feeder. But for bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, warblers, swallows and titmice, they have to swoop down to catch their worms if they’ve all crawled out.
So what’s the point of using a hanging dish feeder if worms end up on the ground? Not much! If you’re feeding live worms, it’s best to use a feeder that has absolutely no texture on the inside surface. Worms will stay put longer, and while juveniles are learning to use feeders, this is helpful.
An open dish type feeder will also accommodate a good variety of other treats to entice wild birds. Oranges used in this double-dish model have orioles flocking and teaching babies where the good stuff is! Suet chunks and peanuts are also good options for winter feeding.
Smooth, plexi-glass meal worm feeders like this are available in staked, hanging and even pole-mounted options. They’re durable for year-round use and dishwasher safe. Birds can perch anywhere on the dish – making it easier to land and feed. The vertical hangers are long enough to use with a weather guard, or even a baffle should squirrels be a problem around your place.
If you’re on the squeamish side and can’t bear the thought of live worms, birds will also go for dried worms. In fact they pack more protein per serving! Consider a dish style mealworm feeder this season… they work great for more than just worms!
Killer photo… thanks David for letting us use it for this post. A red bellied woodpecker spears a snack of worms with that long tongue!
The conversation centered around this photo had nothing to with mealworm feeders, but rather birds’ tongues. Yup, of all bird species, it’s only the woodpecker and hummingbird who can actually stick out their tongue! And the limited range of movement is straight forward at that.
Box, dish, tray, cup, cage, staked, hanging, pole-mount and so on… there all kinds of feeders for offering mealworms. Live worms may find escape from open feeders, but it’s not the only reason the box or cage styles are popular. Just about every bird around will eat your worms (and pretty darn fast), so if the intention is feeding bluebirds… enclosed models are basically referred to as bluebird feeders, and they may be hung, pole-, or post-mounted.
This kind of mealworm feeder keeps most birds out, as very few will actually enter a box to retrieve food. The entry/exit is sized the same as that of a bluebird house, although chickadees, carolina wrens and nuthatches will use these feeders if/when live worms are discovered!
In our quest for bluebirds several years ago, housing and fresh water didn’t seem like enough. Up went the mealworm feeder, with every kind of bluebird food out there! It wasn’t until live worms became available on a daily basis the blues finally stuck around. Since then, a Gilbertson nest box and a another NABS approved wooden house have hosted many successful broods over the years. It takes an open habitat, with good perches for hunting insects. As for the hawks who nest nearby in the woods… we could all do without them 🙁 By the way, three woodpecker species totally ignore both open-dish mealworm feeders in our yard, preferring suet and nuts over live worms. Just one of the many reasons we found this photo so very cool!
Pretty smart robin… since she can’t enter the traditional fly-in mealworm feeder, she sits directly below it on the ground and waits for escaped worms to drop! Imagine my surprise when I glanced out the window and saw her with a huge mouthful of something… my worms! But she’s got nestlings to feed as well, so hey-whatever works.
Normally live worms are reserved for the bluebirds, but the heat and drought covering most of the country makes it extremely difficult on most wildlife. Actually, crickets, spiders and grasshoppers thrive in these dryer conditions, making it easier for bluebirds and other insect feeding birds. Robins on the other hand, thrive when soils are moist, making their preferred foods more abundant.
One mealworm feeder is an open dish style, that’s where the baby blues first learn to eat on their own. It takes some extra time for them to learn the fly-in feeder. These look more like houses, the worms are inside and there are several entry/exit holes. Luckily nobody else (except for Carolina Wrens) ventures into the feeder. Live worms aren’t too terribly expensive… it’s the shipping that hurts your wallet! Not only must they be shipped via overnight service, but due to high temps, they must be shipped in coolers. This adds size and weight to the delivery-bumping the price even higher. Oh… what we don’t do for our birds!
By the way, during nesting season, it is advised to add calcium if you are supplementing with live worms. Some folks use crushed eggshells, but I’ve never been successful with them. Calcium Carbonate (powder) is inexpensive, and simple to use with worms. Just shake some on the worms to lightly “dust” them prior to feeding. The calcium helps females from becoming egg-bound – eggs actually get stuck in the canal-and it’s fatal too. It also helps fledgelings grow strong bones for a better chance of survival.
Lots of bluebirds have passed through this mealworm feeder in our back yard. Last season we had three successful broods of Eastern Bluebirds, in part, thanks to a welcoming habitat. Even the Chickadees, Carolina Wrens and Titmice have learned to use this fly-in mealworm feeder with ease… which I’m not sure is such a good thing? Worms are really reserved for our bluebirds only! This traditional type bluebird feeder is made from recycled plastic, and although it’s about five years old now, it still looks and acts the same way as when it was first installed. With so much junk out there, who doesn’t like quality stuff!
What I am sure of that’s not a good thing are the yellow jackets who continue to torture the live worms inside the feeder! When, for heaven’s sake is it time for them to die off? Every morning when I go to add worms for the patiently waiting, eager bluebirds… the yellow jackets are in there munching on worm remains.
Last night it was in the 20’s here in North Georgia, and finally this morning none of the nasty jax were seen! The weather here is crazy though, hot, cold, warm cold, even some bulbs started forcing their way through the ground with the last dip in temperatures.
I can only hope with this last frost, that all yellow jackets are gone for the season! I think the birds will be happy too 🙂
Waaay cool, the makers of the Sky Cafe have created a mealworm feeder specifically for bluebirds. The new Sky Cafe is totally squirrel proof for starters. The design will keep larger birds out, thus saving precious mealworms for your bluebirds. The large baffle, or hat, also protects food and birds from the elements. A high quality mealworm feeder that may be pole mounted or hung, you know will be around for many years of use and enjoyment
There are lots of groovy dish-type mealworm feeders out there, but as soon as birds discover the tasty morsels, the worms will disappear in no time flat! Seems lots of birds love mealworms… especially live ones.
If you’re forever running to the store in order to keep your mealworm feeder filled, you may want to consider buying them in bulk. It’s far more economical if you’re feeding live worms. Stored in the fridge, the worms stay in a dormant state until they’re warmed up, so no worries of creepy-crawly things in your fridge! The bedding used is nothing more than wheat bran, purchased at your local grocery store.
If you’ve been trying to attract bluebirds with no luck…live worms are the ticket! Bluebirds seem to find this precious food source quickly, and will stick around if mealworms are fed on a consistent basis. Our bluebirds have braved the tough winters of North Georgia for the past few years now… ever since their mealworm feeder is always stocked with live worms. The heated baths help too, and it’s got to be this combination that has allowed us to witness so many successful broods!
Here’s to spring!
In order to entice bluebirds, sometimes their very favorite food must be offered. And meal worms happen to be what’s on the menu over here. Live mealworms are best, but dried or roasted ones will also work. One of the problems is that many species really enjoy mealworms, and you can find your supply dwindling quickly if fed in an open tray-type or dish feeder. Live mealworms are available in bulk quantities should this become habit forming too. They’re simple to store…just place in in a container in your fridge. Air holes are needed, but the worms stay in a dormant state until warmed up by the sun or room temperatures.
A mealworm feeder that’s made especially for bluebirds is one that is enclosed, in fact they’re called Bluebird Feeders. Consisting of two, four, or sometimes six entrances, they have clear acrylic panels for closures, and they’re meant for bluebirds only. Some feeders have a dish in the center for the worms, while others have a recessed circle for them. The birds must fly into the feeder to retrieve the worms, and very few species will try this. But somehow, the natural instinct of bluebirds tells them to do so. It’s amazing to watch, especially when parent bring babies over at feeding time. At first the chicks don’t understand how to get inside, but they learn quickly. And once they learn how to get the food, they frequent the feeder often. This has got to be one of the best scenes of backyard birding!
Available in standard wooden models, mealworm feeders also come in recycled plastic versions. The advantage with recycled plastic is that the feeder will never crack, split, or rot like wood tends to do over the years. Also keeping plastics out of landfills is huge plus to the environment.
Now I wish the nasty starling who tried to shove himself through one of the entrances would’ve gotten stuck there!
Today the post was planned for bat houses, and this Colony bat house accommodates dozens of mature bats and their offspring. You can control mosquito populations around your yard by inviting little brown bats to take up residence.
And that’s all for bat houses, because I was more excited about my bluebird fledglings today! For the first time ever, I was lucky enough to witness all four babies inside the mealworm feeder at once. What a rewarding moment, to finally see them enter the feeder themselves and learn to retrieve the worms. We had 2 successful broods this season, with three fledglings and then four.
First on the scene was a female baby, and since she was all by herself, it caught my attention. As I went to sit outside with the binoculars, she flew off, but I was able to spot her perching high above in the pine tree. Several minutes went by, and no signs of the family. First thought is always, I hope they’re okay?
I went inside to feed the critters, but kept watching out the kitchen window. A juvenile male appeared (from the first brood) and sat on top of the feeder. Then they all came, numbers one, two three and four! The older brother entered the feeder, and a few seconds later a baby male went right in. The other three flew from the nearby shepherds’ hook and sat on top for a few seconds. One by one, they hopped on in! Now there’s five birds inside the feeder, and I’m thinking: “how are they going to get out?” It was very crowded in there! Next came daddy, the adult male landed on he shepherds’ hook as if to say “good job!” Then one by one, just as they had entered, they flew out.
It was one of the best sightings this season, and I’m just so sorry that I couldn’t catch it on film, because it was all just so perfect!
Versatile enough for year round use, this mealworm dish looks great in any setting. With a vibrant cobalt blue that demands attention, the thick, durable plexi-glass is maintenance free. You’ll entice more feathered friends by changing foods according to season, and this one feeder lets you do just that.
Add jelly in summer months to attract Orioles, grape jelly is their favorite, along with orange halves. Mealworms in spring to attract Bluebirds – it’s simple with this convenient mealworm dish. In winter months suet may be placed in the dish, or any seed mix you’d like to offer resident birds. The feeder shown is a hanging one, but it’s also available as staked feeder with two dishes, and a pole-mount version with two dishes. Vibrant, and versatile to entice and attract more species for a better backyard birding experience!
A great alternative to live mealworms, these worms are packaged to lock in natural juices, keeping them soft and moist for ultimate bluebird attraction. Tastier than dried mealworms, without the hassle or wiggle of live ones.
Mealworms were the only food that enticed our bluebirds to feeders. In fact, after a few weeks of constant feeding, they decided to call it home and build their nest. Not one, but two successful broods were raised that spring.
Squeamish about worms in the past, I’ve learned to like them! After trying and trying to attract bluebirds, it was the live meal worms that did the trick. Once I started feeding them, the bluebirds were seen everyday. They even decided to take up residence and nest in one of the bluebird houses. Not one, but two successful broods came into being last spring. I was so darn proud!
Now, in the dead of winter, with snow in Atlanta, my bluebirds have remained. Three heated birdbaths provide fresh, warm drinking water, and the worms come out every day. I think they’re pretty happy to brave the elements.
Feeding live meal worms attracts the most sought-after birds, it’s a sure way to attract song birds and exceptionally brilliant birds like tanagers, robins, orioles, cardinals and goldfinches. After tring everything, I think it is the only way to attract the elusive bluebird!
The benefits of feeding live meal worms include:
•Draw a far wider range of bird species in the garden
•Provide a high-quality source of protein and fat
•Adds a new dimension to bird feeding
•Witness new behaviors from regular visitors
•Get wild birds to feed from your hand!