How many mealworms?

by Pam P
(North Carolina)

I was wanting to know if anyone has an idea about how many mealworms is adequate for a pair of bluebirds with 4 nestlings and also how many times a day should I put some out? I can't seem to find an answer or any sort of idea and I don't want to make a mistake and over do it. I read that mealworms should only be given as a treat or if the weather is too bad for them to go look for food. It has been extremely hot here in NC and we've had a few thunderstorms and rain the past couple of weeks. I know it's rough on mama and daddy bluebird going non stop in the heat. I help them out occasionally but I don't know how many to put out. How many mealworms does it take to make each one of them full or at least sastified? Also, how many can a nestling eat a one time? I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks

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Jul 21, 2017
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It's Pam, not anonymous NEW
by: Pam P

Sorry birders, that was my comment, "No more mealworms" Don't know how anonymous got there and I see I had some typos but y'all know what I'm trying to say. Thanks again for all the feedback. Now I can rest and sleep in my bed instead of living room chair doing guard duty. I wish you all the best with your birding adventures. I'm sure I'll be back, I'm addicted now!

Jul 21, 2017
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No more mealworms! NEW
by: Anonymous

I'm happy to say being that this is my first experience with bluebirds, I'm rather proud of myself but sad at the same time. I went out this morning before leaving for work to give them a few mealworms and mama and daddy blue were acting very different. They weren't in their usual spot waiting like they normally are, they were flying around my roof and mama blue was chasing daddy and just chirping away. It's like they were fussing with each other. They weren't happy for some reason. I go in panic mode as usual and first thing that popped in my head was, somethings happened to babies because why are they chirping and clicking their beaks and flying around like crazy. I walked over to nest and all 4 nestlings were gone. I broke down crying because I thought something for them and that's why mama and daddy were very hyped up. Well few minutes later as I'm walking around yard looking to see if I could see anything daddy got beak full of worms and flew off behind house. I told myself omg they fledged and I didn't even get to see it. I thought when they fledged they would be hopping around in yard somewhere but After making couple calls and researching, I learned that the parents lead them away from nesting site to safer place and to teach them how to fend for themselves. I just watched parents feed them in box might before so I wasn't expecting it but they are 17 days old today so it was time. I put all my time and heart into making them safe as possible, I even went as far as sleeping in chair right by living room window at night so I could keep my eyes out for the cats that have been roaming around or any other predators. I've been outside many times at 2 or 3 in the morning chasing cats away with spray bottle or water hose so I think they got the hint because they haven't been back in hard since but I wanted to make sure. So I slept in chair last night with blinds open and missed the most important thing I wanted to see. I kmow I'm my heart they fledged because the best was in no disarray or nothing strung about plus when daddy grabbed them worms and took off flying behind house somewhere I knew he was taking them some. Thanks for everyone's help and advice, this was a hard thing for me because my whole life revolved around those bluebirds every since they showed up in my yard June 8th. Keep birding on!!

Jul 20, 2017
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bluebirds wireworms NEW
by: romablurb

i,m not familiar with bluebirds but 200 wireworms seems excessive. first, i,d stop feeding them where you are, because predators are taking notice.

second, they have to forage for themselves, that will take them in different directions away from the nest, making it harder for hawks to follow them. third, i think a diet of one insect might not be the best, just as having oranges exclusively isn,t ours.

maybe you could put your bowl in a thick bush, hawks can,t penetrate if they are perched on the inside branchs, and maybe just a couple times a day.

don,t worry, bkuebirds have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, they must be doing something right.

Jul 20, 2017
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how many mealworm? NEW
by: Brook

Hello Again Pam,

Don't put the mealworms any where near the nesting tree. Mom and Dad will find the worms on the other side of your house, if that's where you put them. If the parents are used to you, they might even follow/notice you if you walk around to the other side and put out the worms?

Jul 17, 2017
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Me and mealworms! NEW
by: Pam

Thanks for everyone's feedback because this is all new to me. I don't leave the mealworms out because I don't want to attract any predators, like yesterday when a hawk came swooping toward the maple tree where I put them. Thank God mama blue must have gotten a warning signal from daddy blue because she just so happen to fly away right before the hawk came towards the tree, where she was perched. I just so happen to be watching them out of my window when I saw a hawk come towards the tree and I don't think I've ever moved as fast as I did when I saw it because I ran to the door and almost tore it down trying to get out of it. I ran out screaming at the hawk and he must have gotten startled because he quickly flew up and towards the other way. My neighbors probably think I'm a nut cake but so be it because I'm trying my best to keep them safe until they fledge and move on. I'm thinking that hawk has been watching the blues for couple of days because I saw one few days prior fly to a big tree across the street from my house. I've been putting the mealworms out for a while but more so lately since babies hatched. I put some in a small ceramic bowl in between 2 branches in tree and watch from window until they are through then I go out and take the bowl down. I do not leave it sitting there throughout the day. My concern was how many and often. They waste no time eating them up, they're usually gone within 10 minutes. I feel like they want more because when I go out to remove bowl they chirp at me non-stop and I feel guilty so I get more. I don't know if that's the right thing to do. I put out about 200 or more a day, and that's for mama, daddy and 4 nestlings. I think they have become dependent on me doing this which is fine but I don't want them to let me be their only food source. I could be wrong but I never hardly see them feed the nestlings until I put out the worms and I thought nestlings were suppose to be fed every 20 minutes. They are 13 or 14 days old as of today July 17th, give or take a day. Now I have another concern because since the hawk incident, I don't want to put any out in that tree. I don't know how easy it hard it's going to be training them to another location and if I stop putting any out completely, they might leave the babies so I'm at a loss here and it's hard trying to make sure I'm doing the right thing.

Jul 17, 2017
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Good point! NEW
by: Margaret Mariam

I wasn't considering rain as a factor. (My bad)Definitely bring them in if it rains. If it is dry and sunny, it will do no harm to leave a handful out all day.

Jul 17, 2017
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how many mealworm? NEW
by: Brook

Hi Pam,

I don't think you should put out too many, especially if it's hot and rainy. I would try putting out 2 and watch to see how soon they disappear. The protein should be very nutristous for the parents and they may even give them to the nestlings. You mention that you watch so, if the 2 worms disappear right away try putting out more at one time.

As far as how many times; I'm not familiar with bluebird behavior but I would try once in the morning and once in the evening, or you could try 3x with another in the afternoon but if they don't disappear I think I would retrieve them.

In fact I would retrieve any that were left out all day. You sound sensible, so just think about how hot or wet it is and how fast they are disappearing.

Jul 16, 2017
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Wild birds don't overeat. NEW
by: Margaret Mariam

Put them out. Especially in stressful weather. I put suet out year round. In winter for extra fat/warmth. In summer to supplement the mothers' feeding their young.

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