Bluebird feeding - mealworm (part 1)
In addition to Messages that have appeared in the Bluebird Mailing Lists on this topic, the following are on the Audubon Society of Omaha website:
Subj: Presenting mealworms
Subj: Presenting mealworms.
Subj: Re: Mealworm Acronym
Subj: BBs only wanting mealworms
Subj: Mealies/ migration/etc
If you want to teach your bluebirds to eat from your backyard next spring, you actually have two very different choices to think about. You can feed them mealworms or Linda Jamilla's "Bluebird Banquet"( or some other suet recipe). It is worth anyone's time to consider which path you want to take -because the choices are enormously different. Mealworms mean either buying them monthly, or growing your own. That becomes a fairly consistent outlay of money or a huge project in and of itself to grow your own- (and it is lots of fun!) but you'll need endless supplies and will have to keep up with the supply and demand. Each and every mealie is a live creature and need care and respect, - so you can't just neglect them.
Chris, who has the most extensive and interesting mealworm feeding system
I've heard of to date has 4 nestings a year from one pair of BBs! - every year
-they give an unconditional endless supply of mealies to their blues - claiming
that the winter diet is what determines the # of nestings.....
From: Esther Leck
Date: Monday, November 01, 1999 9:54 PM
Subject: Re: feeding bluebirds.
Just thought I'd throw in my '2 cent's worth' which is all it's worth since
it's based on my own very limited experience this summer/fall. I did feed
during the nesting season and shortly after fledging to eager eaters, both
adults and young. However when they all returned this fall they literally
could take the meal worms or leave them--mostly they left them, being far
more interested in the late blueberries left on the bushes, which i was
happy to share with them. So I think I will help them out again next year
during the nesting season (if they return and are interested) but probably
won't bother after they have adult plumage, since by then they have proven
to be survivors. Joe, your attachment didn't come thru about the
infestation--could you send it again? I'd already thought about that and
think I'll destroy the mealworms I have left, although I'm wondering how
they can escape into the house from the garage since I keep them in a
covered bucket. Didn't somebody mention freezing them as a way to keep them
over the winter?
Subj: Re: feeding bluebirds.
Subj: Mealworm Questions
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 21:22:57 EST
Question regarding a product called "Bird Grub" which is advertised in a "Gardens Alive" catalogue that I recently received. It is described as "grub-like larvae of the bee moth," Galleria mellonella, high-energy dehydrated caterpillars for insect-eating wild birds. The product is also available in suet block as well. It also states that vs. Mealworm, the Bird Grub is far more nutritious (and doesn't crawl away before eaten).Package of 1250 for $13.99 and 2500 for $24.99.
Any comments/experience with this bird food?
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 10:06:30 -0600
This is in response to the Message asking for any experience feeding Bird Grub to Bluebirds. I have feed that product to my yard WEBLs for the last two Winters, a time when Mealworms are inconvenient. Frankly it took a while last year for the birds to accept the dried grubs. I kept offering them with a few Mealworms for about a week before a female finally ate one. The rest eventually followed her lead and then they all snacked only on grubs for the rest of the Winter. This year with the same adults and new offspring it only took a day or two for everyone to adjust.
I only feed a little bit and not every day. I don't want the birds to be dependent in any way and I find they eat the grubs more slowly, taking each one away to the roof or tree to peck at it first. They clearly love Mealworms and only like grubs, however they are anxious for me to come out with them in the morning. The Oak Titmice and Nuthatches in the yard also like the toasty grubs.
Sandra in El Dorado Hills, CA, 30 miles east of Sacramento
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 10:50:26 -0500
The bluebirds here in North Carolina totally rejected it!
Subj: Re: mealies
Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2000 20:05:25 -0500
...I buy mealworms
5000 at a time and store them in a plastic pail with a lid with holes punched
in the top for air. I keep them in a bottom drawer of the refrigerator. When
refrigerated, they are not active and I have never had any escape. I also
have never smelled any odor. They will stay for a few weeks in this manner.
I do put a little cornmeal in with them, for food and to absorb any moisture.
Mary Roen, River Falls, WI
Mary Roen, River Falls, WI
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 19:24:54 EDT
Sandy and Lonnie,
I saw where Bruce posted the number for Grubco already. They are in Hamilton, Ohio and its toll free and you will get the order in about 5 days. Just tell them that you are feeding baby birds and they wont sent you the jumbo size.
I started all this bluebird stuff last year with a house and when the male would fly around the house i would throw some meal worms in there and then watch him go in and eat them all up. Since then I have been hooked. I feed them every morning before work and he takes the worms right to the nest to feed the female and now the babies. It really helps him since there are 5 of them and it must be so much work. During the winter i go to my local bait store (fishing) and they have the jumbo mealworms. I feed the bluebirds every day and they are so hungry they sit on my deck and beg for food. If i move around the kitchen they move around with me. They even hang from the screens on the window trying to get me to come out with food. Anytime i go out back if they see me they fly right over. I wonder has everyone else gotten as friendly with their bluebirds?
I also feed these bluebird treats which are made by C&S company. They are made of beef suet, peanuts corns and raisins. The bluebirds love them.
By the way my house which is on a rubber maid metal pole is not the kind that opens for cleaning. The top is glued on and it is painted blue and white. I do use a metal baffle on the pole. I know i am probably breaking all the rules are far as a house goes but they had 2 succesful nests last year(9 fledged) and the third nest which i tried with cedar box which opened got attacked by something which ate all the eggs. I remember there was an opening in the back of the cedar box and something must have gotten them so i use what works.
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 09:42:39 -0500
...How long do mealworms live, how should they be stored? I have them in a box with airholes, in cornmeal, in the basement (62F). I remember a discussion about the refridgerator but was that just for easier transfer from the shipping bag or for storage? TIA
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 11:12:31 -0400
If the temp is 62 degrees, they should be fine, so long as they get moisture in addition to the bedding. Fawzi recently posted about using pieces of sponge put into "beds" of aluminum foil, rather than slices of apples, potatoes or bananas. I'm following Fawzi now, and using sponges. Wet them again once a week, and you've got it.
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 14:57:46 -0400
Hi Randy and all. Here is an improvement on the use of sponges to keep up the humidity for mealworms stored in the refrigerator. I now use plastic containers about 7"x10" and about 2" high. These have a tight fitting lid (you can also use other sizes, but they should not be much higher than 2"). I punch out (or drill) 5 holes in the lid at each end (1/2" holes will do fine). This is for ventilation. I also use these holes to tie the wet sponge inside the box underneath the cover. Thus the wet sponge is attached to the inside of the lid. The 10 holes, each 1/2" provide ventilation. The sponge can be washed and re-wetted every few days.
When stored this way (with oatmeal or some other meal) in the refrigerator, the mealworms will stay in a dormant condition and will be very good for feeding to bluebirds for about 3 weeks.
I hope this may be useful!
P.S. Refrigeration tends to "dry" things. This is why moisture is needed. Ideal storage temperature is 42*F. Most refrigerators are even cooler... As Randy stated, even 62*F is OK. The warmer, the shorter the mealworms will keep.
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 21:52:23 -0400
For the no brainer. We use celery and asparagus chunks. for moisture. The worms actually eat part of the chunks. Any classic shoe box seems to work. The kind with a lid. Used women's size 7 and men's size 10. corn meal works great. Worms seem to last 2-3 weeks in the frig at 38-45 degrees. Maybe longer, but we buy and use 6000 a week. Consumption was low with eggs, huge with fledglings.
We buy from Rainbow. It is an extremely well run company. Others may be as good. I own and operate a small company. We run as well as Rainbow. We are the best in the industry.
The family fled two weeks ago. They are still filling up with our worms.
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 15:39:22 -0400
I just received 1,000 mealworms in cloth sack. The instructions are
confusing. Can I just refrigerate them as they are, or do I need to place them
in cornmeal for storage. I'm not planning on trying to propagate them at this
time, just want them for feeding parents and baby blues. Thanks for any
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 16:11:51 -0400
What I did, which did not seem to kill them.
1. Open the sack
2. Shake the paper included, and the bag on a nice counter top
3. Toss the worms in a lid type shoe box along with a pound of corn meal with no additives, and a spear of celery, or a few asparagus ends for moisture.
4. Stick in the warmest part of your fridge. If you are freezing things in your fridge, it is too cold.
5. Dig the worms out with a spatula, toss them in a strainer, shake the corn meal back.
6. We went through 7000 worms from egg to fled.
7. We are going through another 5000 for the fledglings.
The worms are sturdier than advertised. They survive a couple hours baking in 90 degrees.
I nailed the residual part of a woodpecker suet pack on a post next to the birdhouse. It worked well as a feeder.
jer near DC.
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 17:03:08 -0400
Betty Nichols, Middletown, MD
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 18:03:10 -0400
Haleya Priest, Amherst MA
Betty, et al - great idea about frigging them so they won't stick to the cloth! However, I lost 5k once by putting them directly in the frig upon arrival. Apparently the box was quite warm and my wholesaler told me they can't take quick change in temperature, so careful not to place in frig right away if box is very warm to begin with. H
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 19:39:48 -0400
Greetings from Westmoreland NH 53degrees
I apologize for asking this question knowing full well that it has been answered many times. I try to keep those Messages that I think I might need. Unfortunately I have not keep any regarding mealworms. I have just ordered 5,000 mealworms and I have a couple of questions, how large a container will I need to keep them in the refrigerator? How many do you normally feed to a pair of Bluebirds in a day? Thanks in advance.
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 20:13:52 -0400
A ladies size 6 shoe box is more than adequate. We found that we could move 6000 mealworms in less than two weeks. Most were eaten.
jer in DC
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 11:31:24 -0400
I just stuck my box, cloth sack,newspaper, worms intact as they came, right
in the frig near the front. Took out of frig as needed. They lasted , alive,
until used up, maybe three weeks.
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 15:25:47 -0400
This is the way I have been doing it for years with no ill effects. I don't
see the need to sort and sift and other stuff.
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 19:36:22 -0700
First of all, I must stress that I DO NOT REGULARLY feed mealworms, nor do I wish to begin a discussion on how to take care of mealworms! However, a few days ago I found myself in a situation (dead WEstern BLuebird female, 2 dead nestlings, no male in sight) where I took the 2 remaining nestlings to foster in another nest. At the time, didn't know how long I'd have the 2 nestlings, so stopped by the local feed store and purchased 200 small mealworms (as I'm a good and regular customer - the woman gave me about 300). The nestlings were fostered at a neighbor's within the hour, so the 2 WEBLs that I had only consumed the number that they could eat within 2 feedings. (They're doing fine, by the way).
So, unaccustomed to dealing with mealworms, I stuck them in the fridge in a plastic tub with ventilation holes. 4 days later I'm stuck with a tub of app. 250 mealworms in my refrigerator. I was going to take them to my grandsons' school (they have "pets" in every classroom, so thought someone could use them). But lo and behold, they were all "dead" at 5:00 pm today. What to do with them? I dumped about 1/3 of them on the drive (a very old asphalt driveway in a very rural area under a huge canopy of oaks) then went to fold the laundry and pour myself my evening glass of Chardonnay. So what do you think happened? A few minutes later I sat down with my glass of wine, a good book (and my binocs always at the ready). Then looked up to see 2 adult females, then soon 2 adult male WEBLs, frantically snatching up the mealworms, who, warmed by the sun, had suddenly "come to life" and were squirming about the drive.
I watched in fascination for the nest hour or so while 2 adult female WEBLs, and 2 adult males, picked up 5 or 6 mealworms at a time, then flitted to the top of the oaks. They all went to same place. After awhile, I was blessed with the sight of 6 "stump-tailed" WEBLs (assume my recent fledglings from 100 yrs. down the driveway), 2 adult females, and 2 adult males all perched on a huge oak limb within a short distance. The 4 adults were all frantically feeding the babies. ALL were banded except for one adult male (good work, Hatch!).
1. Mealworms that appear "dead" in the fridge aren't - they just need to warm up.
2. I'm assuming that the 6 fledglings were my most recent fledge from nearby. The mother had been banded - not the male. I also assume that the other banded male and female were "helpers" from the female's clutch last year, assisting in the feeding.
It was truly a sight to behold, all 10 of them lined up along an old oak branch, the wee ones begging, and the 4 adults feeding them frantically. I ended up dumping out most of the mealworms, which were readily consumed. My (usually) single glass of wine turned into 2, and the laundry is still to be done.
Ah, but what a wonderful evening!
Sure hope it's cooler where you are than it is here!
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 18:47:56 EDT
Today was my last day to check on the eastern bluebird babies. They are now 11 days old and I don't want to open the nestbox anymore after today so they don't try and fly out of the box too early. They now have alot of their outer feathers over the downy fluff and are beginning to look like little bluebirds. When I opened the box they were all huddled together in a circle sleeping, well fed. I could see them breathing so they are okay. So far so good. The weather here has been beautiful, up to 70, sunny and breezy. But it is supposed to rain all weekend here but stay in the upper 60's. Hopefully the nest will stay dry. I have tryed off and on to offer mealworms to the bluebirds but they have not taken to the bluebird feeder. So I have tryed to offer them mealworms in a glass dish but before today they just ignored my efforts. Today, again, I put some mealworms in a glass dish on the ground and mom bb came and took a mouthful. She carried them off for herself and ate them, but did not return for anymore. Slow progress. I will keep offering them mealworms since this is the bluebird pair that overwintered here last year and showed up in my yard in January. They may try to stay this winter too so I want them to get used to me and my offerings of mealworms.
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 23:02:36 -0400
I froze my surplus last October, and put them out on cold winter days. I never saw a bluebird, but the worms were eaten by somebody!
By the way, this poses another question to the list- will birds eat dead mealworms?
I'm thinking not, because they are sent live in the first place.
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2000 19:51:24 EDT
Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2000 22:03:21 -0400
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 07:27:59 EDT
I just have 1 pair of bluebirds nesting, 4 eggs soon to hatch. I want to order some meal worms over the net, and my husband wants to order 3000, because it is a good price. My question is, do I need that many, as it is getting late in the season. My fear is that I will have all these mealworms left over and taking up space in my refrigerator all winter (I live in Wisc, so no chance that I know of, that the BBs will be around.) Also, if you grow mealworms, where do you keep them in the winter? I'm sure the basement will do, but was warned about moths getting around your house.
Thanks for your thoughts,
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 13:24:22 -0400
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 16:50:35 EDT
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 11:46:33 -0400
I live about 50 miles due West of Knoxville, TN. We feed the birds in a big
way. I feed suet mixtures in a number of different places. I start off the
season feeding mealworms, in small quantities, in all those places. I end up
after a few weeks feeding mealworms in only one place. Up here by the workshop
where I raise my mealworms. I feed in a lid off a large tupperware container.
Yesterday we had a wind-chill of -17 F. Today the real temperature was 8.9 F.
This morning I counted 16 Bluebirds perched on wires and around the feeder.
There are more here but that was the ones that I was able to count at one time.
I have been feeding 5,000-7,000 mealworms per day the past few days. (Not just
to bluebirds, of course.)
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2001 23:59:11 -0600
Have been lurking and reading for awhile; am just going to jump in and expose my ignorance.
How do you pick up those mealie worms to put them into a dish or feeder? Are they squishy/active? Do the beetles run around while you are getting the worms out?
I DO 'bait my own hook', but the idea of having to grab a handful of squirming worms and run them outside is not appealing.
This will be our first year to have boxes, so I am really a novice with blues.
Kitty in AL
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001 09:32:01 -0500
I don't have beetles because I don't raise worms; I order them (from Rainbow). When they arrive, I put them in a covered container with bran and air holes in the cover. When I'm ready to feed them to the birds, I spoon some into a colander, the bran sifts through the holes, and I'm left with the worms, which I then pour into a glass dish, which I then put in the feeder. I rarely have to actually handle them, unless a couple fall out, in which case I just spoon them back into the dish. If you refrigerate the worms they become lethargic and don't squiggle. They are neither squishy nor slimy, but have a dry outer shell which is not unpleasant to the touch (not that I'd want to keep my fingers in a bowl of mealworms all day).
Hope this helps.
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 09:50:41 -0500
Dear Kitty in AL,
I'm going to try to be very tactful with you, - but very stern and practical. The only way to pick up mealyworms is just simply to pick them up. They're absolutely harmless. If you have a thing about picking up 'squishy' things, or 'crawly' things, you'll just have to get over it, OR, forget about the mealyworms. What more can I say? When I was an active beekeeper, I often had to pick up swarming honeybees BY THE HANDFUL, several hundred at a time, and put them in their new hive. Never a single sting! I actually kind of enjoyed it, and they always smelled grrrreat!
These mealyworms, believe me, are totally harmless. They're dry unless you squeeze them, and they have no smell that I've ever noticed. I usually put out mealyworms about a dozen at a time. I pick them up with my right hand (thumb and forefinger) and drop them in my left hand until I have a dozen. Then I put them in the feeder. I carry the whole box-where-they-live with me, so I have it right beside the feeder.
I admire you for bringing up the subject, and I hope I haven't hurt your feelings.
Bruce Burdett, NH Bluebird Conspiracy, blueburd"at"srnet.com
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 10:11:36 EST
Kathy Clark, New Cumberland, PA
Just one more thing in addition to the other replies. They are active but not squishy. The beetles will run around. But after you take them from the tray you are growing them in you may keep them in the refrigerator!!! I'd love to see your face right now :)
They love to hide in crumbled newspaper in a cloth sack (others have suggestions and ways they do this )and the cold will slow down the cycle so they will stay worms longer. Also too they won't be active when they first come out of the refrigerator. Once a week though you should take the sack out and give them some food. High protein dog/cat food is good and an apple cut in pieces too. I used to smile hearing that "bag munching". Leave them out for a day and then put them back in the "refrigerator".
I had kept some of mine once in an old margarine tub, and I got a laugh when my daughter found out that she didn't have "I can't believe it's not butter.
Good luck.. Please just ask away when you have questions.
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 10:18:32 -0500
Katherine's advice was probably much better and more sensitive than mine, partly because she's a woman, like you. I'm a man, and I always have to be saying and doing macho things. If she has a way of handling mealworms without actually handling them, then by all means do what she says. For me, picking up mealworms is no worse an experience than picking up green beans or ball-point pens.
Bruce Burdett, SW NH
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 10:20:19 EST
Unitil recently I put a smooth, flat-bottomed plate or pan slightly into the surface of the food-bedding material (wheat bran flakes) which is in either a 28 or 56 quart plastic container. A plastic picnic plate or thin, aluminum pie pan works well. I put a carrot in the plate or pan as a source of moisture. This is coverved by 5 or 6 sheets of newspaper whch enables the mealworms to travel between food and moisture sources.
Now, having said that, most often a good number of mealworms amass in the plate or pan conversing with each other while they await a turn to sample the carrot. A thin, stiff, straight-edged piece of plastic can be used to get the worms. "Scooping" should be done gently so as not to injure any of the worms. Without cutting through the worms get the straight edge of the plastic flush with the flat surface of the plate or pan much as you would place a dustpan on a floor prior to sweeping debris into it. Now the plastic "scooper" can be slid toward the mass of mealies which will force some of them onto it. The "scooper" can be about twice the size of a business card but thinner like some of the clear packaging used to encase small carded retail items for placement on a hook display. Once on the scoop, the worms can then be deposited into a container used for transportation, storage or feeding. Mealies also can be gathered by gently shaking them out of the newspaper covering into an appropriately sized baking pan.
I've recently substituted a paper plate holder for plate and pan. These holders have sort of a hub-and-spoke open bottom which allows worms easy access to the carrot and bran flakes. I still cover this with several sheets of newspaper. Mealies still can be harvested from the newspaper, but those that congregate in the holder are harvested by hand.
Now I can take a stab at answering your other questions. Mealies are only squishy if you squish them. Handle them gently, but not gingerly. At room temperature they move about 1/8 inch per second, slower as temp drops, not much quicker with higher temps. The little buggers prick soft skin like that between the fingers and toes or, perhaps, a small child's skin. The beetles walk around, try to hide, and some aren't playing dead ... they are. I suggest you let ten or more walk about in the palm of your clean hand. Be alert to keep them all pushed back from the edges of your hand because they may sneak out of the pile and fall off your hand without your notice - they walk ever so lightly. Take inventory before and after you handle them. :-) Welcome to the world of bluebirding.
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001 10:50:20 -0500
Katherine's right; mealworms are bone-dry and rather slow; ditto the beetles. We usually pick out the largest mealworms as birdie snacks (chickadees/nuthatches/titmice/woodpeckers all love them) by hand, but you can use tweezers if you like. --When you tweeze 'em, they spin in an effort to escape what must feel like a bird's beak and their own imminant (sp?) demise. But they don't bite or hurt in any way. --The beetles simply lumber around looking for food, moisture or each other. All are easy keepers. Good luck.
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 09:53:01 -0600
I have heard the best way to get the mealworms out is to just use a small strainer, the metallic mesh kind. You just scoop them up carefully then tap the side of the strainer so the food/bedding/eggs are sifted off then you're left with just mealworms that you can dump in your feeder.
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001 09:46:58 -0800
Thinking back I remember that feeling of apprehension about actually touching those little worms. The reward in keeping and handling them is that you get the pleasure of enjoying your bluebirds anticipate your approach with their meal. There is satisfaction in seeing them gobble them up or take them to their young. Pretty soon, the rewards far outweigh their "creepiness"!...
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001 18:03:50 -0800
Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.
Even though I have no aversion to touching mealworms, it saves time to place several layers of damp paper towels on the surface of the mealworm mixture and let the mealworms work their way between the layers. (Similar concept as the newspapers Tom Heintzelman uses over his mealworm plate.)
Whenever I need several dozen "hello" mealworms to take on the trail, I shake the paper towels into a container and I'm ready to go (or I take the bucket with me).
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2001 08:57:24 EST
What I use to sift mealworms out of my wheat bran and crushed dog food container is a spoon tea sifter. These spoon tea sifters are a double sided spoon that has small holes in it and hinges easily with a thumb handle. Just scoop the mealworms into this spoon, close it up with your thumb and gently shake the mix out of the spoon. My mealworm feeder has 1 1/2 inch coated mesh instead of Plexiglas, and it is easy to slid the spoon through one of the holes into a small container inside of the feeder. Only one hand is needed.
As for containers for mealworms on or around the feeder, if cosmetics aren't a concern and conservation/recycling is a desire, what I use sometimes are yogurt containers that have been cut down to be about 3/4 inch high and I use a thumbtack to attach it. Easy, economical, and environmental.
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 18:43:33 -0500
Just a couple of quick questions.
1. How many mealworms should I put out for a male and female bluebird? I put about 15 out every morning and then again around 5:00 that night. Is that enough?
2. If the male and female are both hanging around the house, going in and out, but not building a nest, does that mean they won't build or can't decide if they want to or are they just waiting to see if it's actually going to warm up around here? (I too have my doubts!)
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 22:38:18 -0500
After I get the Mealies what all do I do to keep them alive? I am not looking to make more Mealies just keep the ones I got alive ect. Sorry for all the questions, but I am new. Can't ya tell? hahaha
Joleen in Indiana
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 13:39:43 -0500
In Dorene Scriven's BLUEBIRD TRAILS (3rd Ed., 1999), on pp. 180-181, there is an article by John Thompson entitled "How to Start and Maintain a "Colony" of mealworms. It will give you the answers you need, and the book is a ready reference on any other questions which might occur to you in future.
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 11:48:41 -0500
I received the order of mealworms this morning and put some out in a plastic dish on top of a post about 8' in front of the nestbox, also put some on the ground about 15' in front of the box. Do I need to put them in something different??? How long does it take for the bluebirds to try them???
I think their nest was completed yesterday. For the past two days mama bluebird worked all day on the nest while he watched, checked the box and often fed her.
Date: Fri, 06 Apr 2001 15:01:11 -0500
The first year that I fed mealworms, it did take the Eastern Bluebirds a while to find and start eating them. If I remember right, it took several days to a week. Be patient, they will eventually find them and once they do, they will be hooked. Just be sure that if the worms are out there a while, that they are still alive, and not dried up. You may have to replace them, if they are dead. I whistle when I put them out, and as soon as the Blues see or hear me, they are right there waiting. It is so awesome to watch, especially when the young fledge, and they sit on top of the nestbox waiting for the parents to come with worms. It doesn't get better than that!
Mary Roen, River Falls, WI
Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 09:13:14 -0500
My bluebirds found the mealworms! At 7:00 this morning I whistled as I put them out, and came back in the house, looked out the window and mama was eating. I had also, put out a few blackberries; After she finished the worms she took one of the berries. An hour later I took a few more out, and this time she didn't even wait for me to get back in the house. As soon as I started walking away she came down and started eating.
Thanks to all that responded to my question, I now have three trays of mealworms and a pair of very happy bluebirds.
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 11:38:04 -0400 (EDT)
Hello Laura and all, You will not notice much when eggs hatch. There will be few trips in and out of box because chicks are so small. You may see the female out of the box more feeding especially if the temp has warmed outside. There will be feeding trips to the nest box that you will notice if watching closely. Feeding 30 meal worms per day seems enough since the chicks are still to small for them. Don't think any number of worms to feed has ever been established. I never fed any to nesting birds so you decide for yourself. Joe Huber Venice Fl.
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 16:03:50 -0400
OK, at the risk of being drummed out of the corps, of being listed as an outcast, of having my picture being hung in every post office as a fugitive, of being hunted down and shot on sight, I have to ask this question:
WHY MEAL WORMS???????????
For 2 years now, I've watched the bluebirds in our forest feed themselves and their chicks and they eat and feed all sorts of crawling, scooting, flying and wriggling things. Personally, I wouldn't know a meal worm from a porterhouse steak, but I do know that the bluebirds here don't restrict themselves to any one type of wiggly food. And, I also understand that they eat berries, etc.
So, why all the emphasis on meal worms? I know that, for example, American Goldfinches love niger seeds, but my guess on that one is that their seed-eating beaks are so small that the niger seeds are perfect for them, but they eat black oil sunflower seeds also, rather clumsily -- they just prefer niger because it is easier to eat. House finches also eat niger, but since they have larger beaks, they chow down the black oil sunflower seeds like there's no tomorrow, but don't turn their beaks up at niger.
Bluebirds, though, have no beak restriction which would, I don't think, make them prefer meal worms, whatever they are. At least the ones in our forest, since they show up with all sorts of things in their beaks.
So, why meal worms???? VMS
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 17:13:07 -0400
VMS, I can think of two reasons why I feed mealworms: 1. In case of a single parent needing help to feed the babies (unless the babies are few in number,) 2. For pleasure! It is fun to see them come to eat the mealworms. There are other reasons like for photography, but I am not equipped to take their pictures. I am sure others on the list have more reasons...
Fawzi from MD
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 19:43:46 -0400
Thanks, Fawzi, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is why *meal* worms, instead of , for example, xyz worms or zyx flies, or whatever? VMS
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 19:46:45 -0400
Because we can't stand the thought of hundreds of tarantulas in our refrigerators? I think mealies are easy to grow, easy to keep, relatively clean and non-offensive.... I don't know, but I suspect they also have a high protein content.
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 19:58:55 -0400
Hello v.m.straus & All:
The mealworm so loved by many birds earned its name because the Teneboro beetle and its larvae was found by farmers in the meal being fed to their livestock.
Betty Nichols, Middletown, MD
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 09:17:33 -0400
v.m. straus, et al,
The mealworm (genus 'Tenebrio') has been raised and sold for many years, usually as food for various house pets. In recent years, bluebirders have discovered that Bluebirds love them. Do the Bluebirds really need them? I don't think so. Have I used them? Absolutely, but not very much. Why do I use them? I enjoy it, and I can get the birds closer to camera. Do mealworms harm the Bluebirds? I doubt it. Why are they called mealworms? Because they infest granaries and bakeries where they feed on meal, flour, etc.. Can they be raised at home? Easily. Are they nutritious? I believe they're protein-rich, but I wouldn't swear to it.
What more can I say?
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 13:36:19 -0400 (EDT)
Why do people use Tenebrio instead of other "worms"? There are several good reasons. They are a good size for bluebird food, not too messy, not slimy, easy to handle, and relatively easy to raise. A major advantage of this species is that the adult beetles do not fly so you don't have to worry about their escaping every time you open their container. [Try THAT with Drosophila!]
If you are growing your own and don't already use lettuce leaves to feed the adult beetles, try it. Morgan suggested this (if I remember correctly), and it turns out to be wonderful. It doesn't mold, in contrast to most other moisture sources I have tried. The adult beetles DO need their moisture. Leaf lettuce is fine--you can grow your own. A container with lots of beetles can eat a leaf or two very quickly.
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 16:30:54 -0400
Lettuce is a good idea for sure. I use Romaine lettuce and I use it to add moisture for the meal worms themselves (and little 'cubbie holes' they can crawl into) and the live beetles. The mealies / worms / larvae can *also go through a few leaves pretty quickly (esp. if one has a couple thousand)! They like to burrow through them ... and I suppose this helps them shed their skin / grow. As Barry said, they aren't as likely to get moldy either ... like apples and some other things I've seen recommended.
As an aside ... I've noticed that my EABL's haven't been 'hitting on' the mealworms near as much now as they did prior to the eggs that hatched on the 29th (Yay!!). During the incubation process and prior ... they couldn't seem to get enough! Right now they seem to be into getting their own ... at least for their little ones. It could also be that the mealworms I have been putting out are near the the end of their larval state and are ready to pupate. In other words ... maybe they are "past their prime"(?)
Does anyone know what actually *is* the case? I mean, there has been a *drastic* drop in mealworm consumption / interest since the bluebird eggs hatched. (It's a good thing too, I'm almost out of the worms but have more on the way, hopefully in time for the fledglings to have a "free meal" or two before they "get a life" in the adult world).
Susan / Freeburg, PA (mid-state)
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 09:29:44 -0400
Jessica, et al,
No. I have noticed no difference in nesting frequency or any other nesting behavior between the 2 'sites' where I sometimes feed and the 29 other 'sites' where I don't. I doubt that the small amount of feeding I do would have much effect on behavior anyway. The only 2 'sites' where I feed are only fed occasionally. But that doesn't necessarily prove anything. I simply don't observe all my 'sites' (31) as meticulously as some apparently do. None of them is in my yard, (our property is wooded) and it takes a lot of driving and walking and many hours to monitor them all, since they're spread all over the township.
If I had some houses on our own property which I could watch from the window, say, or reach by foot, I'd probably be a more meticulous monitor. Note: A few of my Bluebird houses are gradually becoming House Wren houses. Why? Because the landowner is letting brush and thickets grow up around them, and they are no longer really out in the open.
Bruce Burdett, NH Bluebird Conspiracy
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 20:43:35 -0500
Decided to feed my only and last third brood of BB babies and, also Mom and Pop, mealworms--just for fun. This afternoon (late) my husband and I taped a small glass bowl complete with a little handle (for perching) to the top of the BB box. Put the mealworms in the bowl, probably about 1 1/2 doz., then parked the truck several feet from the box.
Armed with our binocs and being quiet, like good birders should, we sat and watched. After a while Mom came flying by but flew right by the box up to the tree. We waited and Mom flew by again but, this time landed on the front of the box and looked in then flew off. This happened a few times. Then Mom swooped the bowl but didn't land. We waited. Pop came up, went in and took out a fecal sac and flew off. Mom in the tree watching. After awhile Pop came again, took out another fecal sac and flew off. He did this four times. Mom just watching and, once in awhile, flying up to the box and looking in. Then another swoop over the bowl. Then Mom started feeding the babies completely ignoring the steak dinners. We could hear the babies saying, "Me, me, me", inside the box each time Mom would come up with their dinner. But it wasn't steak. The sun was going down pretty fast and it was turning into a nice cool evening. Still we sat and waited. About two hours into this, I was wishing I had brought pop corn and pop. Mom still feeding the babies. Now the babies are not saying, "Me, me, me", anymore. We wait awhile longer and didn't see Mom or Pop again so we figured they went to bed. Sun way down past the tree line now and starting to get dark. So we left, too. No Bluebird had their steak dinner tonight.
Don't know what will happen to the mealworms. Will they live until morning? I have to get up early to meet my girl friend but I guess, if I am a true birder now, I better get up extra early and get my buns out to the orchard to see what's happening. Maybe they will have steak tomorrow.
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 21:55:55 -0400
You should not put the bowl on top of the box. This will call other birds to the box. Can you move the bowl out away from the box?
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 08:41:59 -0400
Dottie, et al,
I think it's the consensus that we shouldn't put mealworm-dishes, or feeders in general, as close to our nestboxes as you describe. I try to keep such feeders at least 50 feet from my nestboxes, preferably even farther.
Feeders have a way of attracting all kinds of things, both furred and feathered, that we don't want around our bird-houses if we can help it. (I've never heard of snakes raiding feeders, but maybe they do it too. I suppose they might be attracted by the things that raid the feeders.) The main thing is to keep our nestboxes as far AS OUR INDIVIDUAL LOCATION PERMITS from traffic of all kinds, - animal, avian, reptilian (sp?), human, or vehicular. Putting bird-food on or near our nestboxes is asking for trouble.
Bruce Burdett, SW NH
From: "g boone" enoobg"at"hotmail.com
I have six bluebirds that come to the feeder every morning at dawn. I don't see them the rest of the day. It has been my experience from observation that a bluebird will eat approx. 8 medium sized worms at one "setting". I give them about 50 worms. I figure this gives them a good start for the day without them becoming dependent on them.
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 08:06:06 -0800 (PST)
My daughter has a Bearded Dragon lizard and they say that it is best to feed them superworms instead of the mealworms. The excess skin( chitin or exoskeleton) of the mealworm can cause impaction in the smaller lizards.
My question is would the Superworm also be better for the Eastern Bluebird (EABL) since it is said to be easier digested and more nutritional?? or is there some reason the Superworm is not good for the EABL??
I raise the mealworms for my EABL trail and for the Lizard but if the Superworm is better for both I would prefer to change.
Kerry in NE corner of Okla.
From: "Karen Smith" ksmith"at"brandywine.net
I just recieved 1000 mealworms! My question--- How do I keep them? What do they eat? Do they need water? I bought a BB feeder last week and put BB food in it (peanut pellets), but have not seen BB use it. It has roof and plexiglass sides. Saw Bruce's email saying he had no luck with this until he removed plexiglass side. What are other's experience?
From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Next I remove the cloth bag containing the worms (1000).
Then I put some corn meal and/or wheat bran in the box, mabe about an inch or so.
Next I put in a few chunks of cut-up apple for moisture. Other folks use all kinds of other stuff. (I hope they tell you.) Change the apple when it gets mouldy or dried-out.
Finally I shake all the worms (1000) into the box.
The box may be kept at room temperature.
But if you want to keep them dormant (inactive) for some reason you may put them in the refrigerator, but NOT IN THE FREEZER ! !
If anyone disagrees with this advice, I'm sure he'll tell you.
Bruce Burdett, SW NH
From: "Cameron" ccscott"at"iland.net
I ordered 1,000 mealworms and already made a awsome mealworm feeder. I dont put all 1,000 mealworms in the feeder i know that much
+What do i need to do to keep the others alive?
+Sould i put them in the freezer or refrigerator?
+ How much do i feed the blue birds per day?
+How do i get the bluebirds to eat the worms out of the feeder
Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 11:28:34 -0400
Barry and All,
We add a piece of lettuce or carrot for moisture. Unfortunately, the timing of their cycle never seems to match our bird nesting cycle. We usually have lots of mealworms at the end of the summer. We presently have them in a plastic gallon ice cream container in which we've added lots of tiny holes around the upper rim and on the lid. They've been in our refrigerator since last September or so. We take them out periodically. As soon as their bodies return to normal temps, they are squirming, etc. Storing them in the refrigerator doesn't seem to harm them.
My husband placed a clean small cat food can onto the 3/4 inch pipe with a clamp on which the box is mounted. He put holes in the bottom to drain rain water. We place mealworms, bird grub, or bird treat in the box in the evenings. Presently I'm conducting an informal experiment wherein I blow a coach's whistle everytime I put something into the little can. I want to see if the birds learn to come when they hear the whistle. Last night, mom stuffed her mouth with mealies and fed her babies until they were all stuffed before bedtime. They always consume immediately whatever we put out. I don't have concerns about attracting other predators because of that fact. This box is about 10 feet from our back porch so we watch them regularly and very closely. This is he box that I found the 3 chicks on the ground on Monday of this week at 2 days of age. They are doing great now. I receive the beetles after they die but that's a! bout it. We just add more corn meal or some other grain as needed supply. Hope this answers your questions. This might not work for everyone but it works for us. Patty in WV
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