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Click to go to Audubon Society of Omaha Home Page Audubon Society of OmahaEastern Bluebird

Welcome to The Bluebird Box since 1995
Best of Bluebird Mailing Lists Classified

Bluebird Feeding - Mealworms (Part 2)

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: 


Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 07:49:43 -0600
From: "Keith & Sandy Kridler" kridler"at"1starnet.com
Subject: Re: two holed boxes installed

Fawzi, How many mealworms are you feeding per day? I believe a steady diet will help trigger early nesting. KK...


Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 09:27:04 -0500
From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Re: two holed boxes installed

Keith, you may be right. Also Betty was feeding mealies. I don't know how many, but I do have about 12 EABL who come regularly, and I buy 5000 every three weeks (5000/21/12) which is about 20 mealworms per bird per day. This is a lot considering food like this is hard to come by when it is all frozen outside. I reduce the amount I feed when they pair up (which will happen soon if not already, as I see more and more fighting...)

Fawzi

Fawzi Emad in Laytonsville, Maryland
femad"at"comcast.net


From: "College Town" collegetown"at"I-55.com
Subject: mealworms
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 15:27:54 -0500

I have 2 bluebirds. How many mealworms should I order? If I feed them twice a day, how many should I give them. Does it matter what size I order?

Kim


From: "Mary Beth Roen" mbroen"at"hotmail.com
Subject: Re: mealworms
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 16:13:06 -0500

Kim,

I know a lot of people on this list give about 15-20 mealworms at a time to a pair of Bluebirds, but I give mine at least twice that number. I watch to  see if they are all eaten, if not, I give them fewer the next time.  Mealworms last for several weeks in the refrigerator, I put cornmeal in with  them, so it can be sifted out with a sifter when I want to feed. Oatmeal  etc, won't sift and you have to pick the worms out. I used to buy the medium size, but large are the same price and you get more for your money. Parent  birds will strike the worms to mash them at first when the nestlings are small and can't eat a whole worm.

I usually order 5,000 at a time as each order has shipping and handling costs. You may want to try 2,000 or 3,000 to see how long they last. There is a point in time where if they are not used, they die and dry up and are  wasted.

Mary Roen, River Falls, WI


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Re: mealworms
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 17:04:05 -0400

Kim, et al,
I'm not sure what you mean when you say "I have 2 Bluebirds." I assume that you mean you have a pair - a male and a female - nesting in a single box. If this is the case, I would advise putting up at least one more good box 15'+- away in case some other species decides to compete with your Bluebird pair for your one house. Where I am, the most likely competitors would be Tree Swallows, but they might also be Chickadees, House Wrens, Titmice, or Nuthatches. (I rarely see a House Sparrow, thank Heaven.) ...............Up here, Bluebirds will not usually nest closer than 300' or so from other Bluebirds unless there are buildings or some other obstruction between the sites, like a patch of woods, for example.............

When I use mealworms (and I rarely do) I put out as many as they will eat in about 3/4 of an hour....perhaps about 3 dozen. But I know that some people put out hundreds and feed them all day for months at a time. Different strokes for different folks, right? I'm not into that. I feed mealworms just to entertain myself. Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: "College Town" collegetown"at"I-55.com
Subject: I ordered my mealworms
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 09:36:08 -0500

Hi everyone! Thank you so much to all those who responded to my post. This morning I ordered 1,000 medium mealworms from Grubco. They should be here Thursday or Friday.

Yesterday I bought a hanging, flat surface feeder to put the worms in. I live in an apt. and there is no where to sit a dish other than the ground and I worried the worms would be attacked by ants. I do have a tree in my yard so I could hang the feeder there.

There were no takers on the mealworms or blue bird nugget I bought yesterday. This morning I sat the feeder on a step stool in front of the birdhouse in hopes they will see the food and eat. I figured once they got use to seeing the feeder, I would then be able to move it back to the tree.

If I am doing anything wrong, please let me know.

Kim


Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 17:46:18 -0400
From: dottyrogers"at"netscape.net
Subject: Re: baked mealworms?!?

...Has anyone else come across "baked mealworms" at their bird store? Saw a container of these, perhaps 200, for $8 (wow!).

Would these have the same nutritional content as live mealies? They felt sort of rubbery and odd. A friend was considering them because the weather has been so cold; heavy frost on windshield this morning -- and her order of 1000 MEWOs hasn't come in yet.

Dot; eastern MAss


From: "Eckstine, Dave A." david.eckstine"at"mackaycomm.com
Subject: RE: baked mealworms?!?
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 17:58:23 -0400

Dot -

Not baked. I came across freeze-dried MEWOs at one of the local bird supply companies in Raleigh, NC - 5,000 in a bag for $35.00. In talking with friends who are more experienced BB'ers and who tried the freeze-dried MEWOs, the EABLs were not attracted to them.

I use regular MEWOs (same price) since my property is heavily wooded and not conducive to EABLs. I think it' the primary reason we've had our EABL pair the past two seasons.

Dave
Wake Forest, NC


From: "College Town" collegetown"at"I-55.com
Subject: I expected the bb to come running for the mealworms. I was wrong.
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 10:41:11 -0500

I have not had any takers on the mealworms. This morning I placed them in a corningware dish on the ground in front of the bb nesting box. I have noticed one gone, but it may have climbed out. 

I live in an apt. complex and my only places to put the worms is on the ground are in the tree. I had them in a flat feeder yesterday and they are still there. 

I haven't noticed any birds eating them. I figured the bb would def. see them. I will be patient and wait. I have 1,000 mealworms on the way so I would sure like some takers.

Kim


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"srnet.com
Subject: Re: I expected the bb to come running for the mealworms. I was wrong.
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 12:42:47 -0400

Kim, et al,

I have had my best luck feeding mealworms by putting my Corningware (Corelle) glass dessert dish on a small wooden platform mounted on a pole so that the dish is about at the level of my CHIN. It helps to have a woodshop where I can make a circular cutout in the platform so that my dish fits in the cutout and can't slide around or fall off. But that's hard to do without certain tools. The dish should be at a height where you can easily see down into it to check its contents. (Your own height is a factor. I rarely if ever put out more than a couple of dozen worms at a time, and I time it so that I can be present until the worms are all gone. Bluebirds like to perch on poles, stakes, fenceposts, etc. (even gravestones) so they head instinctively for this pole-mounted feeder, 6 feet above the ground. And once you get them coming to the pole-mounted feeder-dish, you can put the dishes wherever you wish, since they've learned to associate the dishes with snacks. As I've said, I've had poor luck getting them to come to roofed feeders with sides and entrance holes. (Other folks have had good luck with this type.) And I repeat, all but 2 of my 32 sites (64 boxes) never see a mealworm all year and do just fine.

Keep trying various things. Be calm. Don't give up. Be patient. Persistence (sp?) is a large part of success in bluebirding, - or anything else, for that matter. Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: "Doug Rohde" d.rohde"at"attbi.com
To: "BLUEBIRD-L" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Fw: mealworms
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 14:38:17 -0500

Karen,

My experience is the same as Bruce's - I removed the plexiglass sides.With respect to the care and feeding of your mealworms, check out these websites:

http://birding.about.com/library/weekly/aa021401b.htm
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/bluebirds/feeding.htm 

Doug
Highland Village, Texas


From: Jgandy8580"at"aol.com
Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 08:32:11 EDT
Subject: EABB male activity

...Years ago when I had almost the only box-nesting EABB's in south Jersey,  photographers used to spend hours in their blinds trying to get photos of the male feeding, while the female was there every few minutes. With this pair, they could get dozens of photos of the male at the box and the young aren't even hatched. He is constantly nearby, or on the box, or at the entrance. I'm definitely glad I had the mealworms and dried fruit for them during the recent cold spell and will certainly continue until young are fledged. After that I will certainly cut back on the amount, but I may continue with small amounts just to enable me to keep an eye on the family.


From: "College Town" collegetown"at"I-55.com
Subject: My mealworms have arrived!!! Let the fun begin!
Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 10:20:32 -0500

First, let me say that I ordered these from Grubco and they are a much better quality of mealworms than the few I picked up at a store in town. Much better quality of worms--that is a phrase I never would have thought I would say. What is happening to me????

It is my understanding from the packaging that I can leave them in the bag they came in and put it in the fridge. There are a 1,000 of them wrapped in newspaper and then put in a cloth bag. I learned real quick though before you tie the bag up you had better make sure ALL the worms are at the bottom of the bag.

Is my understanding correct or should I go ahead and put them in a plastic container with oatmeal and a piece of apple? 

Thanks!


From: "Mary Beth Roen" mbroen"at"hotmail.com
Subject: Re: My mealworms have arrived!!! Let the fun begin!
Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 10:57:42 -0500

Hi!

I take my mealworms out of the newspaper and cloth bag that they come in, and put them in a plastic container with a lid with air holes put in it. I use cornmeal instead of oatmeal, as I can use a sifter to sift out the worms, instead of having to pick them out of oatmeal. I store the container in the refrigerator, occassionally leaving it out at room temperature for a day, for the mealies to come out of dormancy and eat. My last batch of 5000 lasted for 4 weeks this way.

Mary Roen, River Falls, WI...


From: "College Town" collegetown"at"I-55.com
Subject: mealworms
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 09:35:54 -0500

I have been keeping my mealworms in a 12-15 inch in height container. It is 3/4 the size around as a gallon milk jug. I had only ordered 1,000 and this seemed to be suitable.

Today, my order of 3,000 arrived and I am thinking that I prob. need something larger. I do have a tupperware container (looks similar to a 9 x 13 casserole dish) with the top. I could puncture holes in the top. Can mealworms climb the tupperware? I have to keep these in my fridge and I do not want to take the chance of them climbing out of the air hole. My other container is a smoother surface and they can't climb it. I had even thoughtt of using the aluminum throw away pans and coming up with some type of cover.

I think I just answered my own question. They would not be able to climb in the fridge b/c they become dormant. The only time I would have to worry is when I leave them out so I can feed them. Right??

Kim

[Note from webmaster: mealworms WILL chew through a plastic bag and move around in the refrigerator. They can not climb out of a steep-sided slippery container.]


From: "College Town" collegetown"at"I-55.com
Subject: Are bluebirds territorial with their mealworms?
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 14:58:46 -0500

This is my first experience with bluebirds. I have offered the adults mealworms and they have readily accepted them.

My question. Now that there is possibly a 2nd pair starting a new nest should I put out a second dish of mealworms or do you find that adults will share the mealworms? Thanks for your input.

Kim
Hammond, LA


Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 18:52:35 -0400
From: Pamela Ford jpford"at"comcast.net
Subject: RE: Are bluebirds territorial with their mealworms?

During the nesting season, the bluebirds will not readily share such a food source. Try to place a second dish out of the sight (and territory) of the first pair.

I've also noticed that now that the second nesting has fledged, the parent bluebirds are chasing the first group of fledglings away from any mealworms. They shared just fine while the babies were in the nest.

Come fall they will flock together and get along well.

Enjoy your bluebirds Kim.

Pam in Harford County, Maryland


Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2002 01:48:03 -0400
From: Pamela Ford jpford"at"comcast.net
Subject: Yellow jackets and Japanese Beetles

In the last week, I've been having a problem with the yellow jackets attacking and eating the mealworm that I place in a dish. It's a bit early for their fall feeding frenzy, but then again, everything's early this year!

Now, why won't Bluebirds eat Japanese Beetles! It would be such a benefit! I've been trapping over a quart of Japanese Beetles a day and I still don't have any rose or magnolia blooms left, or many leaves of certain trees either! Does anything eat Japanese Beetles?

Such is life without the use of pesticides! You win some and lose some. (The milky spore seemed to have no effect after application 2 summers ago.)

Pam in Harford County, Maryland


From: "Pam Tellier" wknight"at"erols.com
Subject: The joy of feeding mealworms.
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 11:53:20 -0400


If anyone out there has not yet experienced the joy of feeding mealworms, I just wanted to encourage you to try it. Every year I have enjoyed seeing the babies fledge and look for them in the trees, but this year I started feeding mealworms to the parents before the babies fledged. I gradually lured them nearer to my house when the babies left the nest. I have so enjoyed seeing the parents come flying to the feeder when they see me out there. And now the babies are old enough to come also. I thought only 3 of the 4 babies made it until yesterday I saw all 4 fledgings at the feeder. It adds a whole new
dimension to the the joy of Blue Birding.

Pam in MD


From: "Gretchen Hughes" lghughes"at" joink.com
Subject: FREEZING MEALWORMS
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 07:36:02 -0500

Hello All
I have a request, Some time ago there was a Message on Bluebird-I stating that bluebirds will eat frozen mealworms as easily as live ones. I am wondering if anyone else has had any experience with this. If so, how was it done? lf so please put your answer either on the List, or to me personally, Thanks

Loren Hughes(Pres East Central IL. Bluebird Society) 1234 Tucker Beach Rd. Paris, IL 61944 217-463-7175 lghughes"at" joink.com


Subject: RE: FREEZING MEALWORMS
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 09:36:31 -0500
From: "Alicia Craig" craiga"at"wbu.com

It has been my experience that birds prefer fresh over other types of non fresh food. It has been my experience that birds will eat dried, frozen, etc. food sources when other fresh food sources are not readily available.  I rehab birds and providing dried mealworms is so much easier than having to worry about live mealworms. I, however, soak the mealworms in water mix to soften them (I also add vitamins because mealworms do not provide much calcium).   

Alicia Craig
Senior Manager, Nature Education
Wild Birds Unlimited, Inc....


From: "Lawrence Herbert" lherbert"at"4state.com
Subject: mealworms
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 08:32:13 -0600

There are dumb questions and I've got one: how do you keep the mealworms from crawling away from the shelf they're in for feeding the bluebirds?

Good birding, Larry H. Joplin MO.


From: "Talentino, Michael" MTalentino"at"OFFICEMAX.com
Subject: RE: mealworms
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 09:56:34 -0500

Hi, Larry,

Try gluing a piece of weather stripping or trim that has a lip.
|-|

Mike Talentino


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"tds.net
Subject: Re: mealworms
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 12:57:48 -0500

Larry, et al,
I put out my mealworms in little Corningware white dessert dishes. The sides are steep enough and slick enough so they can't climb out. And you can put the dishes anywhere you want,....in a feeder, on a railing, on a stump, on a porch, on a table. You decide. If you're really clever, you can HANG them. You can even drill a hole in the bottom with a glass-drill to prevent rain-water from collecting and drowning the worms.

Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: "Lawrence Herbert" lherbert"at"4state.com
Subject: mealworms
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 19:28:13 -0600

Rec'd several good suggestions on feeding mealworms.

Many like to use Pyrex dishes. They are slick on the inside surface and hard for the critters to escape. Same goes for plastic butter/margarine tubs. Vertical surface makes for them hard to get out of. Tuna cans, due to their vertical surface are successfully used also. Another good idea was to put a warmer or warm pan under them to keep them mobile and more attractive to the bluebirds, especially until they are used to the feeding source.

Thanks for all of your help. Good birding, Larry H. Joplin MO.


From: "Anne-Marie Palermino" ampalermino"at"msn.com
Subject: another mealworm question
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 17:25:34 -0500

Many thanks to everyone helping me with my mealworm question. I will be receiving mealworms on Friday and was wondering if you knew a trick or away to keep the worms "wiggling" in this cold weather. I have about 2ft of snow in my backyard and the blues check their box every night (Mr and Mrs). It is a miracle they have survived such a cold winter.

Anne-Marie Palermino
Lincoln, RI


From: "Burnham, Barbara" Barbara.Burnham"at"zzz.zzz
Subject: RE: another mealworm question
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 08:03:43 -0500

Anne-Marie,
It's important to keep them wiggling to get the bluebirds' attention, as they look for motion. Once they know that mealworms are offered, they will be back. Our blues will eat them warm, cold, frozen, live, dead, large or small, even nymphs, usually with a side serving of suet mix.

One very smart lady placed the mealworms in a bowl, which was then placed in a bowl of warm water and set on the ground beneath the telephone wires where she saw bluebirds were perched. Two days later, they were eating from her hand.

Barbara Burnham
Ellicott City, Maryland


From: "Bruce Burdett" blueburd"at"tds.net
Subject: Re: warming the worms
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 09:30:02 -0500

Barbara, AnnMarie, et al,
I don't feed mealworms in the cold weather, so I don't have this problem. But if you do, isn't there some clever way that you could use, or convert, an electric birdbath-warmer to produce enough warmth to keep your worms active? Or possibly a length of the electric cables people use to prevent ice on their roofs? (rooves ?) The cable can be configured any way you want, following the mfrs warnings, of course. I use such a cable to warm my honey-extractor, and it works like a charm. The honey runs like water, or almost.

Browse around your hardware/building-supply store. They must have something you could adapt.

Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: "Diede Kris" mickandkrisdiede"at"mindspring.com
Subject: offering mealworms to bluebirds
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2003 20:54:31 -0500

What is the best way to offer mealworms for bluebirds? How many should I put out at once?
Thanks,
Kris



Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2003 21:11:46 -0500
Subject: Re: offering mealworms to bluebirds
From: Maynard R Sumner m-r-sumner"at"juno.com

Kris,

Put your loc. in your post so we know where you are. Not all loc. are the same. I put my mealworms in a dish. You will get more post on the right kind of feeders to use.

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI ...


From: "PTom" ptom"at"austin.rr.com
Subject: Re: offering mealworms to bluebirds
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2003 21:35:52 -0600

A friend in North Carolina couldn't get bluebirds to take mealworms from a dish or a feeder. He cut the bottom out of a coffee can and pushed it into the lawn leaving 3" of the rim exposed to contain mealworms. Bluebirds pick the trapped mealworms from the grass. Pauline Tom Mountain City (no mountains) TX



From: Mary Roen mbroen"at"pressenter.com
Subject: Mealworm feeders
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003 09:01:23 -0600

Kris,

I have used two kinds of mealworm feeders. One is a wooden feeder with jail-like dowels on the sides to which I added horizontal dowels to make a grid of squares for the sides to keep out starlings. The ends are solid wood with 1.5" holes for the Bluebirds to enter. Actually, they enter and exit from the squares on the sides as well as the ends, so I may cover the holes this year after the discussion on the list about other species looking for food in round holes. There is a little glass dish inside this feeder to put the mealies in so they can't get away.

The other feeder I have used is very similar to the PVC type nest box, only it has 3 inch diameter holes on four sides. The mealies are placed inside and the Blues fly in and out of the open sides. I am a little leery of this feeder, now too, because it has food inside a feeder that looks so much like a Van Ert nest box. I have, however had Eastern Bluebirds readily use both of these mealworm feeders. Both are mounted on poles.

Mary Roen, River Falls, WI


Date: Sat, 08 Mar 2003 08:21:29 -0800
From: Linda Violett lviolett"at"earthlink.net
Subject: Re: offering mealworms to bluebirds

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.

You can put mealworms in the crotch of a rough-barked tree . . . or at the slanted base of the tree. Mealworms offered in this way will crawl upward, are shaded from the sun, and Bluebirds can easily pick them off the bark. Don't leave any more mealworms than Bluebirds can use while you watch or you will be "teaching" other birds to compete with Bluebirds. If you put down too many worms, pick off the excess.

I'm not lucky to have birds nesting in my yard, but "Hello" mealworms are brought to Bluebirds during weekly checkups on the trail and Bluebirds quickly learn the routine.


From: "Chris Turnbow" cturnbow"at"midsouth.rr.com
Subject: re:offering mealworms to Bluebirds
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003 15:24:32 -0600

I have had great success with the mealworm feeder sold by the North American Bluebird Society. It's called a "jail feeder" because the sides have bars. It comes with a cup you can velcro to the floor of the feeder. My BBs are very possessive about their mealworm feeder. I whistle every time I take the mealworms out to feed them, and they come flying. I also put peanut butter suet in their feeder for them, but when the weather gets too warm I will stop putting out suet. When their babies hatch, I will fill the feeder two or three times a day. Now I just take the worms out in the morning (at the same time) 7:00 a.m.

Talia


From: stan1bb"at"frontiernet.net
Subject: Re: Feeding Mealworms
Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2003 20:35:35 -0600

Hello EveryBIRDie!

If you "long-time BBrs" will forgive me [and you may delete here], may I share my experience of feeding mealworms to our "newcomers" to the List.

To keep this brief, check... http://www.northbirding.com/writings/smerrill/chickadee.htm 

at which you'll find a picture of the mealworm feeder I like...in fact, have two...one for deck side of our Townhome and one for front "postage-stamp" yard. Though my "mealworm takers" are BCCH [black-capped chickadees], I would think information would be applicable for your bluebirds, depending upon your habitat for feeding mealworms.

Happy bluebirding/mealworming!

Stan
Apple Valley, MinneSNOWta


From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Re: Mealworms.
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 21:08:23 -0500

Look at my site (link below,) follow the Bluebirds then Mealworms buttons. You'll see how to take care of mealworms, and detailed how to do it. You'll need two containers for 10,000 worms...

Fawzi Emad in Laytonsville, Maryland
Website: http://users.rcn.com/femad
E-mail: femad"at"comcast.net


Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 05:19:39 -0600 (Central Standard Time)
From: "CJ Hazer" CeeJaaHzr"at"starband.net
Subject: Re: Mealworms

Fawzi,
 

You noted "flaky" meal for the mealworms. Won't cornmeal work? Or is it too dense. I recently bought 6 bags of it but haven't tried it yet. I've successfully raised tons of mealies in the media I bought from SuperWormFarm.com, but their a bit pricey when you add shipping costs. I like their meal though.

CJ Hazer
Farmington, Missouri (St. Francois county)
(50 miles south of St. Louis)


Date: Tue, 01 Apr 2003 06:50:03 -0600
From: Kate Arnold bbnestbox"at"1starnet.com
Subject: Re: Putting mealworms in nestbox

It is not a good idea to put mealworms in the nestbox. Putting them inside would only mess up the inside of the nestbox. Putting them on top of the nestbox is a bad idea as well, since it lures other eaters of mealworms too close.

The female leaves the nest for brief periods of time anyway, and will find the mealworms if you place them in the place to which she is accustomed.

Kate Arnold
Paris, TX


From: "david calhoun" dlcdmd"at"bellsouth.net
Subject: re:mealworms,gene davis
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 08:21:17 -0500

I dont think 10,000 is too many to buy,if you already have babies to feed.

David Calhoun,Louisville,Ky.


From: "Phil Kenny" philkenny1"at"cox.net
Subject: RE: Mealworms with Wheat Bran
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 09:50:25 -0500

I use wheat bran to raise mealies with great success. I purchase a fifty pound bag at Southern States for about $7.50 and it lasts for over six months. I have always read that oats are the thing to use but I started with wheat bran and have used it ever since. I have also found that potatoes are much less expense than apples to provide a moisture source. I have ten plastic storage containers with mealies in various stages. Three with beetles, three with tiny worms and four that I am "harvesting" from. I think raising the mealies is a lot fun!

Phil Kenny
1731 Killarney Court
Vienna, VA 22182-2133
philkenny1"at"cox.net



Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 18:23:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Meal worms
From: Terrance H Bennett thbkab"at"juno.com

Hi,

I raise meal worms too. I feed corn meal, store brands are just fine, or sometimes I purchase the flakier cornmeal . Also oatmeal, lettuce leaves or apple skins, or wedges for moisture. They get huge! Kathy Bennett Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator Central N.Y.


From: "Phil Kenny" philkenny1"at"cox.net
To: "'Seward, Elizabeth D.'" Elizabeth.D.Seward2"at"usdoj.gov,
BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: RE: Mealworms with Wheat Bran
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 22:07:17 -0500

Diane,
I leave the beetles in the container for only six to eight weeks, or until I can see the tiniest of worms for the first time. Then I move the beetles to a new container. I have brown paper grocery bags cut up into small pieces for the beetles and worms to hide in. This makes it easier to move the beetles, but it usually takes a few times before I get very one. Since I have ten containers going at once, I rotate them and try to use up all of the worms in the last container in time to start with beetles again. It is not an exact science. Beetles emerge and pupa form and as I find them in other containers I add them to container one. I do keep potatoes, apples, banana skins in with the beetles. They seem to need just as much moisture as worms do. Since I typically have at least three or four containers that I am harvesting from, separating the tiny worms form the large is not usually an issue. I keep two by four inches pieces of brown bag that the worms find their way into each day. When I want worms I just dump out all the worm finding in the paper into a plastic suet cake container, and grab what I can on the surface. I then move-on to the nest container. Once in a while I do use an old regular window screen to sift out the worms and throw the frass out. I can't even count all the worms I put out each day, hundreds at least. Sometimes there are fewer to provide and sometimes too many. The cycle is not quite even yet. The real fun came this winter when I had eight to twelve EABL each morning waiting for their breakfast. Now if they would all make lots of babies in my boxes! Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions. Phil

Phil Kenny
1731 Killarney Court
Vienna, VA 22182-2133
philkenny1"at"cox.net


 

-----Original Message-----
From: Seward, Elizabeth D. [mailto:Elizabeth.D.Seward2"at"usdoj.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 11:03 AM
To: 'philkenny1"at"cox.net'
Subject: RE: Mealworms with Wheat Bran

 

Phil,

How do separate the tiny worms from the larger ones? What kind of sifter do you use? And do you feed the beetles potatoes or apples, or just leave them alone in the wheat bran (in other words, do the beetles need moisture also?)

Thanks for your help.

Diane Seward
Potomac, MD

-----Original Message-----
From: Phil Kenny [mailto:philkenny1"at"cox.net]
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 9:54 AM
To: CeeJaaHzr"at"starband.net; 'Bluebird List-Posts'
Subject: RE: Mealworms with Wheat Bran

 

I use wheat bran to raise mealies with great success. I purchase a fifty pound bag at Southern States for about $7.50 and it lasts for over six months. I have always read that oats are the thing to use but I started with wheat bran and have used it ever since. I have also found that potatoes are much less expense than apples to provide a moisture source. I have ten plastic storage containers with mealies in various stages. Three with beetles, three with tiny worms and four that I am "harvesting" from. I think raising the mealies is a lot fun!

Phil Kenny
1731 Killarney Court
Vienna, VA 22182-2133
philkenny1"at"cox.net
 

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu [mailto:owner-BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu]On Behalf Of CJ Hazer
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 6:20 AM
To: Bluebird List-Posts
Subject: Re: Mealworms

...


Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 12:21:44 -0600
Subject: feeding mealworms
From: BJ Boykin bjgator"at"eatel.net
To: bluebird BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu

I was just wondering on an average how many worms to give the bluebirds and how often. I have just started giving worms and have no idea...wanted to hear from ya'll that have been doing this for a while. thanks for your input.

Bobbie Boykin
Prairieville, Louisiana


From: "david calhoun" dlcdmd"at"bellsouth.net
To: "cornell cornell" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: re:feeding mealworms
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 14:14:54 -0500

Bobbie-I usually put out about 30 at a time in each of two feeders.Maybe you can start at that &go up or down depending on how fast they go. David Calhoun,Louisville,KY.


Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 13:40:03 -0600
Subject: feeding mealworms
From: BJ Boykin bjgator"at"eatel.net
To: bluebird BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu

How many would you put out if you were just feeding a few families? I  do not have a feeder so I put them out in dishes near the houses.

bobbie boykin
prairieville, louisiana


To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 14:47:27 -0500
Subject: Re: feeding mealworms
From: Maynard R Sumner m-r-sumner"at"juno.com
 

On Fri, 4 Apr 2003 12:21:44 -0600 BJ Boykin bjgator"at"eatel.net writes:
I was just wondering on an average how many worms to give the

...
 

When I feel mealworms I put out 25 and give them 1/2 a hour to eat them. What is not gone in 1/2 a hour I take back in the house.

We had a lot of rain and ice last night. They are calling for a lot more tonight. I would like to make it to the Jackson Bluebird Festival tomorrow. I hope to meet some of you bluebirders at the Blulbird Festival.

 

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI

http://mibluebirdsociety.tripod.com
http://nabluebirdsociety.org
http://birds.cornell.edu/bluebirds
http://bentleychurch.tripod.com
Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7


From: "david calhoun" dlcdmd"at"bellsouth.net
To: "cornell cornell" BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: re:feeding mealworms bobbie
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 15:28:44 -0500

I would use the same # for just a few families. I call any dish that I put mealworms in a feeder.David Calhoun,Louisville,Ky.


From: "Anne-Marie Palermino" ampalermino"at"msn.com
To: bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: feeding mealworms
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 17:54:31 -0500

I put about 35 for each bird and I never have any left over. It is still winter here.

Anne-Marie
Lincoln, RI
 

From: "Crystal Hill" crystaljhill"at"msn.com
Subject: Mealworms, Feeding & Storage
Date: Sun, 18 May 2003 07:54:52 -0400

Thanks everyone, I found a store not too far from us sold the meal worms. I just purchased some meal worms yesterday, found that the Wild Birds Unlimited Store sold them. Now don't laugh, this is my first time buying and feeding.  She told me at the store to keep them in the refrigerator. But this morning when I was getting ready to put some out they did not look as active as the afternoon before?? Could my refrig be too cold?? Also when feeding do I put just the worms out or some of the stuff packed in with them. (I know stupid questions, haha) I purchased a bluebird meal worm feeder, the kind with the holes just for them. So far they are not eating the worms..

Crystal
Social Circle, Newton County, Georgia


Date: Sun, 18 May 2003 09:23:42 -0400
From: Pamela Ford jpford"at"comcast.net
Subject: RE: Mealworms, Feeding & Storage

Hi Crystal, these are good questions. The refrigerator keeps the mealworms dormant, so, yes, they will be still. Keeping them in the refrigerator will make them last longer (stay alive longer). Questions for you, how many did you purchase? And how long do you plan on keeping them? Generally, if you have larger amounts or plan on keeping them longer, you should make sure that they have more surface area (not stacked as deep) in the container, and perhaps bring them to room temperature and feed them for a few hours before refrigerating them again (place carrot slices in with them). Again, these steps aren't needed if you have just a small number (1,000) or will use them quickly.

As for feeding mealies to the bluebirds. This time of year, there are plenty of insects and they may not be attracted to the mealworms unless they are desperate for food (cold rainy days, or too many mouths to feed) Start by placing some mealworms on top of the feeder, but stop supplying if starlings are the takers.

Pam in Abingdon, Maryland


From: Catsham"at"aol.com
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 07:49:05 EDT
Subject: Re: Mealworms
To: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu

 

Will bluebirds eat dead mealworms? I would like to start offering them on a regular basis. But I can only keep them in a plastic bag in the garage and I fear they will not live long that way. Putting them in the freezer is out of the question. Offering them at all is quite the labor of love. I have no fear of any creepy crawly things except maggots and mealworms. It comes from an incident from my childhood when I moved the garbage can in the dead of summer and found...well, I suppose you don't need the rest of the story. Anyway, I handle them with long garden gloves and a set of extra long barbeque tongues.

Rory
Wappingers Falls, NY


Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 18:39:04 -0400
Subject: Re: Mealworms
From: "Haleya Priest" mablue"at"gis.net
To: Catsham"at"aol.com, Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu

Hi,
If you don't buy a huge amount of mealworms, you can keep them in your garage in a shallow open container (like a 9 by 13 glass baking dish) and layer them with cut up brown paper grocery bags with sprinkles of oatmeal on them. Cover the top with paper bag. Make sure everything is about 1" below the top or else they'll crawl out. And you have to make sure they are fed enough food or they'll starve. You can also use organic high protein dog food pellets for extra protein packed mealworms.

With this method you can use the mealworms as you go along. No bb that I know of will eat an old dead mealworm - plus they'll rot and stink to high heaven in a plastic bag!

I never refrigerate my mealworms if I am feeding regularly. I buy enough and use the above method and if I haven't used them all up when they start turning into pupae and beetles I will refrigerate to slow the development of them down. But usually I get just enough so I hardly ever refrigerate. :-) H

--------------------------------------------
Perhaps the most important thing we ever
give each other is our attention.
Rachel Naomi Remen

The online Bluebird Reference Guide: http://birds.cornell.edu/bluebirds/
Mazzzchusetts Bluebird Association: http://www.massbluebird.org
Cornell's Birdhouse Network: http://birds.cornell.edu/birdhouse/
North American Bluebird Society: http://nabluebirdsociety.org/
Best of Bluebird Mailing Lists: http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/bestofbbml/bblindx.htm
 

----------
From: Catsham"at"aol.com
To: Bluebird-L"at"cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Mealworms
Date: Tue, 17:49 AM


From: "Zimmerman, Bet"
Subject: Sep. dead vs. live mealies
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 09:08:51 -0400

Another mealyworm question. Is there an EASY way to separate dead vs live mealyworms? While I was away, my spouse mixed in a batch of half dead stinky ones that came from Grubco. I spent two ugly hours handpicking out the bodies. Are mealyworms attracted to dark/moisture or something so they would separate themselves? I know that the bluebirds will pick through and only take the good ones, but I want to get the dead ones out because they are stinky.

Bet from CT [Note from webmaster: All replies were directly to sender, and negative. Some noted that the bluebirds will naturally select, and take the live ones while leaving the dead behind.]


From: Bet Zimmerman
Subject: Mealworm Lesson Learned
Date: November 8, 2003

My husband put some mealworms in the frig in a plastic container, but couldn't find the top, so he put the container inside a ziplock bag. The worms ran out of food and chewed through the plastic (fortunately they just laid on top of the plastic, but it's still pretty disgusting.)


From: Haleya Priest, mablue"at"gis.net
Sent: Saturday, November 08, 2003 11:44 PM
Subject: Re: Mealworm Lesson Learned

One of my favorite stories is when I had all my mealies in several aluminum pie tins with apples and oatmeal - all sitting on the counter. My friend came over and thought they were tins of apple crisp ready to go into the oven, and then her tummy- oh the look on her face when she got a tad closer and could see the apple crisp moving about and making sounds!

Haleya Priest Amherst MA ...


From: KCBSP"at"aol.com
Subject: Re: Mealworm Lesson Learned
Date: Sat, 11:43 PM

Once I put some in an old butter container. My daughter opened it thinking it was the butter! That is cause it said "I can't believe it's not butter" on it!! Remember to floss Bet!

Kathy


From: Linda Violett [note from webmaster: Sent directly to Bet Zimmerman]
Sent: Saturday, November 08, 2003 11:00 PM
Subject: Re: Mealworm Lesson Learned

Be sure to let the mealworms have air (don't seal ziplocks). And let them come out of "hibernation" for a day each week . . . let them warm up so they can eat and replenish themselves for another week of "hibernation."

Linda V.


From: rindfleisch12"at"elknet.net
Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 1:14 PM
Subject: Re: Mealworm Lesson Learned Lesson #2 learned about mealies...

My 2003 spring supply of mealies arrived and had a great container for them in the fridge. No one was going to escape. Added the oatmeal to keep them happy (This was my lesson #1...I staved my mealies in 2002) and daily carried the goodie container to the feeders every a.m. Well one beautiful weekend morning, I decided it was a great day to let the 2 horses out into the fresh spring "new" pasture. Set my mealies down to close the South gate of their summer pasture and headed north to let the horses in. I completely forgot about the mealies awaiting their return to the fridge, as I could hardly wait to get started on my spring gardening. Well, by the time I noticed the horses gathered at the south gate, there were just a dusting of oatmeal flakes and no more than a 12 worms left (of more than 1500") Apparently they're the breakfast of champions for horses too! Yummy.

Cheryl R. SE Wisconsin


From: Gretchen Hughes [mailto:lghughes"at" joink.com ]
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 10:31 AM
To: 'Bluebird_Post_Cornell'
Subject: frozen mealies

...Last year I was tempted to try the frozen mealies, and so I spread them on wax paper on a cookie sheet, froze them and put 50 or so in zip lock snack bags. I don't know if they revived but I do know the  bluebirds sure ate them. A great way to keep them for future use. Here is wishing you all a wonderful wonderful holiday season. ....

Loren Hughes-Pres. East Central IL Bluebird Society
1234 Tucker Beach Rd
Paris, IL 61944 PH 3217-463-7175


From: "PooleBrown"
Subject: Mealworms
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2003 11:32:39 -0500

Are mealworms animate objects like bluebirds that have nerves and can suffer pain or are they inanimate like sunflower seeds with no feeling?


From: Wendell Long
Subject: Re: Mealworms

I don't understand the question. How does one learn sunflower seeds have no feeling?


From: "Evelyn Cooper"
Subject: RE: Mealworms
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2003 13:18:45 -0600

In our December newsletter, we have an article on feeding mealworms and it is copied from NABS fact sheet. The first sentence says: "Mealworms are not really worms at all, they are the larval form of the darkling beetle (Tenebrio molitor). Now, I have no idea if a larval form of something has nerves or pain. Maybe someone else on the List can tell us.

Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA Louisiana Bayou Bluebird Society www.labayoubluebirdsociety.org Member NABS


From: Linda Violett, lviolett"at"earthlink.net
Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2003 2:58 AM
Subject: Re: Mealworms

Yes, Richard, mealworms experience discomfort. During a hot summer day, an assistant on the trail placed a handful of mealworms on a manhole cover in the sun. After only a few seconds, the mealworms were writhing and wildly flipping on the hot metal cover. By contrast, mealworms placed on the ground in the shade react quite differently (they calmly crawl away).

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.


From: Nahanna2"at"aol.com
Sent: Monday, March 15, 2004 1:16 PM
Subject: Mealworm ?

...I notice them the Mealworms climb to the top (roof) of my Mealworm feeder. Has anyone else had this problem? My feeder is a wooden hopper type with Plexiglas sides and holes for the Bluebirds to go into the feeder.

I have my first pair of Western Bluebirds in my orchard area of my garden each and everyday! They had two boxes to choose from...  I want to put out Mealworms for them.

Warm regards, Nancy



From: crystaljhill"at"msn.com
Sent: Monday, March 15, 2004 1:28 PM
Subject: Re: Mealworm ?

I place mine in a small dish with sides prevents them from crawling all around....... Crystal Social Circle, GA

From: Bruce Burdett, blueburd"at"tds.net
Sent: Monday, March 15, 2004 2:23 PM
Subject: Re: Mealworm ?

Like Crystal, I use small white Corningware dessert dishes, about 4" in diameter for presenting mealworms. The sides are too shiny and too steep for the worms to crawl out. Bruce Burdett

From: Burnham, Barbara, Barbara.Burnham"at"zzz.zzz
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 7:02 AM
Subject: Mealworm Feeder

Nancy, I have the same type feeder. A small glass dish with sides will restrain the mealworms. An old ashtray now has a useful purpose! I use the little plastic lids that fit on restaurant carry-out containers; disposable and non-breakable. When the weather is very warm they can crawl out of this, but our backyard bluebirds know the deal--they gobble them up so fast, they don't crawl far. I try to never leave out more mealworms than they can eat. Then other birds will not discover the easy pickings. Also, around August we have problems with yellow jackets taking them--although it is fascinating to watch them wrangle a mealworm like a bucking bronco! Please don't overdo the mealworm feeding. Remember it is mostly for OUR benefit, not theirs, to bring them close to us because we enjoy their company, their beauty and their antics. We know they can survive quite well without the mealworms. But too much bird traffic, especially noisy, begging fledglings, WILL attract the attention of winged predators. Barbara Burnham Ellicott City, MD


From: Michelle Martin, shell7"at"cox.net
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 9:03 AM
Subject: how many mealworms to feed ? Michelle Martin Central Louisiana

This has probably been asked & answered , but I'm curious. I found on a bluebird site that the bluebirds should get like about 25 if not nesting , and double when they are feeding the young. Is there really a 'perfect' amount to serve ? I have one pair and I feed in the morning and in the evening. They look too busy catching their own in the mid-day , so I don't feed them then. But I have fed in middle of the day and they take the worms when they are there, no doubt. I give them 20 every morning , sometimes 30 - and the same in the evening. Am I over doing it ? Seems the male is eating much more than the female is. That I can tell anyway. He does bring some to her in the box though. Not much though. So , I think he's getting more than she is. So, is there a good number of mealworms to stick with for feeding , or is just by experience ? Thanks


From: Evelyn Cooper, emcooper"at"bayou.com
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 9:20 AM
Subject: RE: how many mealworms to feed ?

I don't know the right amount, but to me this time of year we have so many insects everywhere, I wonder why keep feeding them? My bluebirds abandon the feeder of raisins and peanutbutter with oatmeal ball when it warms up and the insects are moving. I can't imagine anyone in LA not having enough insects!!! I would certainly continue feeding if I felt there was a crisis, like one parent having to feed them (maybe one expired) and also in a very cold spell in the early part of the nesting season. I would cut down on the amount they are given when it is warm and plenty insects are out. I know it is fun to see them come to the feeder, but cutting down at this time might be the best. Just my opinion. Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA Member ...


From: Michelle Martin, shell7"at"cox.net
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 9:03 AM
Subject: how many mealworms to feed ?

Michelle Martin
Central Louisiana This has probably been asked & answered , but I'm curious.  I found on a bluebird site that the bluebirds should get like about 25 if not nesting , and double when they are feeding the young.  Is there really a 'perfect'  amount to serve ?  I have one pair and I feed in the morning and in the evening.  They look too busy catching their own in the mid-day , so I don't feed them then.   But I have fed in middle of the day and they take the worms when they are there, no doubt.  I give them 20 every morning , sometimes 30 - and the same in the evening.  Am I over doing it ?  Seems the male is eating much more than the female is.  That I can tell anyway.  He does bring some to her in the box though.  Not much though.  So , I think he's getting more than she is.   So, is there a good number of mealworms to stick with for feeding , or is just by experience ?  Thanks !


From: Bet Zimmerman
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 1:44 PM
Subject: RE: how many mealworms to feed ?

Fawzi Emad's webpages on mealworms at http://mywebpages.comcast.net/femad/More%20pages/mealworms.htm  and http://mywebpages.comcast.net/femad/pages/training_bb.htm  recommend about 15 per day per bird.  Also has good tips on storage and feeding. Bet


 


From: RJFandal"at"aol.com [mailto:RJFandal"at"aol.com]
Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 5:13 PM
Subject: Re: trouble with EABL acceptance of wooden block house guard

I started offering mealworms with a wooden type feeder that was sold several years ago as a "bluebird feeder" with 1 1/2 inch holes in the wooden ends and Plexiglas (transparent) sides for the length. I removed the Plexiglas which makes it like a board to put the worms on with a covered roof . . . it's mounted roughly the same height as the nest box and about 15 - 20 feet away from the nest box (closer to our patio than the nestbox so we can watch parents and babies come to feed). I like the feeder better without the clear sides, because I'd hate for a fledgling to get in and become frightened because he couldn't figure his way out.

For the first few days, I placed mealworms on top of the feeder roof as well as on the wooden lower part. (EABL can see worms move about 70 ft away, so it helps if they are initially put where the birds can see them.) Once they found them, they've never stopped coming for worms. Now I have 5 fledglings joining them.  As my neighbor put it the first time he saw them all on the feeder from across his fence, "GOODNESS GRACIOUS, LOOK AT ALL THE BLUEBIRDS!"   I read on Linda's site that you can say the same word, or make the same sound, or whatever (like Pavlov's dog), each time you put mealworms out, and they associate the sound with the worms and come when you call. I call out "bluebirds" in my high pitched female "call," and it's hilarious to hear my husband try to imitate me. But since I am their main "caretaker" they do come quicker when I call.  My whole neighborhood has been over to see the birds come when I call. I couldn't deal with the mealworms crawling away (guess I like more control than that, LoL) so I pinch each little head on the end where their legs are before I put them on the feeder.  That way they are alive, but can't crawl away.  Just have fun with it . . . you and the bluebirds will be blessed that you took the time.  Good luck! Tammi Pearl River, LA

[Note from webmaster: Mealworms can be put inside a shallow glass/heavy plastic bowl to prevent escape.]


From: Larry A Broadbent [mailto:rockets"at"mnsi.net]
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2004 12:29 PM
Subject: Feeding Bluebirds

Here's a question for any of you that have been feeding Mealworms to your Bluebirds. Have any of you ever tried putting out just the Mealworm Pupas to see if the Bluebirds will eat them. When the pupae are placed in a dish and placed where they get warm radiant sunshine, they wiggle around a lot. So, my thoughts are that the Bluebirds will go after the pupae just as much as the mealworms. Would I be correct ? Have any of you had any success feeding just the pupae? Regards, Larry A Broadbent


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2004 5:03 PM
Re: Feeding Bluebirds

Larry, I use the pupae whenever I have an excess number of them and not very many large mealworms. As long as the Bluebirds have been trained to eat mealworms, they will also eat the pupae. I haven't seen any problems with feeding pupae. However, since I don't feed mealworms on a regular basis, there may one that I haven't run into. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Ann Bigger [mailto:abigger"at"charter.net]
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2004 8:54 PM
Re: Feeding Bluebirds

I feed mealworms and when the dish is empty I just scoop out a 1/2 dish full that has both worms and pupas and they empty it in no time >>> empty plate, good kids ;-))))) Ann Bigger


From: Maynard R Sumner [mailto:m-r-sumner"at"juno.com]
Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 4:51 PM
Re: Feeding Bluebirds

It worked for me. The blues liked the mealworms better, but they did eat them. Maynard Sumner Flint, MI


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 11:59 AM
Subject: Stop feeding mealies in August?

Our local bird store recommended stopping feeding blues mealworms after August. Anyone know why? To prevent the bluebirds from overwintering in hostile weatherland?


From: Phil Berry [mailto:mrtony8"at"mchsi.com]
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 12:25 PM
Re: Stop feeding mealies in August?

that won't bother them one way or another. birds do what they have to do. you will never convince one toover winter unless it does so normally. Phil Berry


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 1:45 PM
Re: Stop feeding mealies in August?

I agree with Phil, that it won't matter one way or the other. As I've said before to the point of tedium, most of my 36 2-house sites never see a single mealworm all summer. I only use a few when I want to try for some pictures. Otherwise they're on their own to forage as they have for generations. When the insects disappear in the fall the Bluebirds drift south far enough to find food. And they can live on berries, fruits, and seeds if they have to. Feeding mealworms is fun for the Bluebirder, but not necessary for the Bluebirds. I love ice cream, but I can live just fine without it. Bruce Burdett P.S. Your feeding mealworms is also fun for the people who sell mealworms.


From: jwick"at"tds.net [mailto:jwick"at"tds.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 4:26 PM
Re: Stop feeding mealies in August?

Ask them please..................I would be curious to hear their reasoning. Please share the answer you get? ~Ann Wick Black Earth, WI


From: Haleya Priest [mailto:mablue"at"gis.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 4:52 PM
Re: Stop feeding mealies in August? Haleya Priest Amherst MA

I think this is the same controversy you'll hear from folks who say one should take hummer feeders down in Sept to encourage the hummers to fly South. I believe it is a myth that stopping feeding the blues will get them to move south - but you'll find folks on this list who believe fall feeding will keep them here. I've fed my blues all winter long and never ever felt like I was hurting them However, think about feeing the mealies organic high protein dog food (kibbles) because you'll increase the fat content of the mealies and that will help keep your blues nice and plump during the winter months! This is one place where fat is good. :-) H


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Sunday, August 01, 2004 7:37 PM
Re: Stop feeding mealies in August?

Haleya, I agree with you - that a bit of supplemental feeding isn't going to undo years of instinct. However, sometimes instincts change because of long-term environmental changes. And of course, if a person finds 1 dead hummingbird or bluebird in a snow storm, they might use that as "evidence" that late feeding is harmful. Because my veterinarian warned me not to allow our dogs to eat cat food (too high of protein), I use the semi-moist CATfood for my mealies. They grow big & FAT. I have often wondered if there has been any research done on the mealworm's digestion, as they might not even be capable of utilizing the protein in either dog OR cat food. I know that the tropical fish diet has been studied extensively. Perhaps a side study was done on the mealworm, as it's sometimes its used as fish food. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5) NABS member


From: judymellin [mailto:judymellin"at"netzero.net]
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2004 1:18 PM
e: Stop feeding mealies in August?

I would think this would have to do with the young birds' learning to hunt. In August, insects should be at their most abundant and the young have to learn to catch bugs to feed themselves. During migration, they will have to find their own food and, if they are used to a handout every time they are hungry, they could be hampered in their ability to hunt. I have seen no studies on this so it is just my opinion but it does seem logical- at least to me! Judy Mellin NE IL.



From: Blubabies"at"aol.com [mailto:Blubabies"at"aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2004 9:00 PM
Subject: Re: Stop feeding mealies in August?

To all--

Agreed.  You don't stop birds from migrating by feeding them.  You actually help them  fuel up for migration and improve their survival. ...


Debbie Mielke
Charlotte NC


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 11:14 AM
Subject: Why store recommended not feeding mealies in August

I finally called the local birding store (I've been on travel) and asked why they recommended that people stop feeding bluebirds mealworms in August. They said it was because the bluebirds might attempt to start another nest, and the babies won't make it. (They are in Sturbridge, MA) They suggested stopping feeding at the end of August, and then starting again (if bluebirds are still around) in October. My last nesting is expected to fledge this week (had two third broods this year - in previous years I have only had one brood per pair). Bet from CT


From: Phil Berry [mailto:mrtony8"at"mchsi.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 12:22 PM
Re: Why store recommended not feeding mealies in August

Bluebirds are smarter than this. They will not nest just because food is available. Phil Berry


From: Haleya Priest [mailto:mablue"at"gis.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 6:32 PM
Subject: Re: Why store recommended not feeding mealies in August

Haleya Priest Amherst MA
     Wow. THAT is such a bunk I can't believe it! There is NO WAY a pair would attempt another nest. They don't have the hormones to do it at that time of year. Yes, bluebirds up here can attempt 3 nests if  they are fed mealies, but that is within the normal nesting season (hormone induced) - but it won't happen outside of the normal nesting season. :-) H



From: KimMarie Markel [mailto:auroramn"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 7:38 PM
Subject: Re: Why store recommended not feeding mealies in August

Sorry, but I have 3 hatchlings that are 9 days old today (and I've been worried about this late nest here in Western NY - never know when the weather can change for the worst in August).  I'll give them mealworms as a supplement as long as they are here.  The EABLs don't depend on them (they choose the bugs they get on their own every time), but appreciate them when put in the feeder if the weather and cooler temps warrant it. We've had a very wet and at times an unseasonably cool summer this year - if I can help the "Blues" and the other insect loving birds, I'll do it.  This "BUNK" sounds a lot like the "take your hummingbird feeders down or they won't migrate myth" to me. kimmarie :) Buffalo/Varysburg, Western NY


From: Debi Money [mailto:dmoney"at"getatlas.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 6:05 PM
RE: Stop feeding in Aug.

What kind of Bird Store is this. Don't they know how smart BB's are? BB's know what they are doing. I fed "my" BB's in Aug. and they did not start another family. The parents and babies came and ate and left. Smart! By the way, I ran out of worms and it was a few days before I got more and I haven't seen them back, do you think they will come back or have they moved on till next season? (I have more now). :-) :-) Joy in Birding! debi money


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 4:20 PM
Subject: Plans for simple mealworm feeder online

I got a request for a photo of the quickie mealworm feeder we constructed from PVC. I've posted a picture and instructions at http://www.sialis.org/feeder.htm

Bet from CT


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 11:25 AM
Subject: Mobile mealworm feeder

After making a DIY mobile mealworm feeder (described at http://www.sialis.org/feeder.htm ), I saw http://www.jennabird.com/luring-mealwormfeeder.htm .  This "luring feeder" was designed six years ago by Floyd Van Ert, and is MUCH nicer, with three entrance holes and a removable top. It is available from Jenna Bird.  Oh well, my husband used to think he invented the skateboard.... (until I showed him an article indicating it was invented several years before he made his.)  I've added a note to the webpage to this effect. I must have seen a picture of it somewhere that was embedded in my subconscious….

Bet from CT


From: eindians [mailto:eindians"at"zoominternet.net]
Sent: Sunday, August 15, 2004 9:48 PM
Subject: third nesting

yesterday[8/14/04] our 3rd nesting from the same pair of EABL hatched. i am confident it is the same pair because in our area there are not that many bbs. also we feed mealy`s so we can keep a close eye on them.[nest box is 40 ft.from our bedroom window] we feed mealy`s on our driveway and sit about 10 ft. away to watch. if they are in hearing range a whistle from my wife or myself brings them right in. at first these birds were very timid,but after a few weeks of feeding mealy`s and monitoring the nest box they became almost passive at the sight of us. the male is definitely bolder than the female,he will hover 2 ft. above my head while i put mealy`s in the bowl. the fact that i am home 24/7 and outside most of the day probably helps the birds get used to me. they watch me fill the bird bath,and sing constantly because they know what comes after that ritual.[meal time] no pun intended.

i have been on this list since early april and have read all the postings since.[most of them have been very informative and interesting] one issue i wanted to reply to is feeding mealy`s. the first brood was brought to the mealy source by both parents. they started by feeding the fledgelings in the tree above the bowl until they began eating on their own. the adult blues let this go on for 2 weeks at which time they chased them out like they were sparrows.they never came back to the feeder after that time,although they are only about 200 yds away. i observe them every night fly into roost in a line of pine trees in a neighbors yard.[binoculars very helpful] the day the adult blues chased the first brood away was the same day they began feeding mealy`s to 2nd brood. the second brood is now coming to the feeder[albeit not as often as the first]so i should know in 5 days if the adults are more worried about feeding their nestlings or if they want the youngsters to fend for themselves,or maybe a combinaton of both.[first 2 broods they did not feed mealy`s until they were done brooding] anyway back to the topic of third nesting.

a freind of mine has been monitoring EABL boxes for 30 yrs and has never had a true 3rd nesting. he lives 20 miles south of me. he has had a third nest built but never a successful hatching. i live in northeast ohio,15 miles south of youngstown. i have read about other third nestings this year[as far north as toronto canada]is this an unusual year? EVAN SCHWARTZ 15 MILES SOUTH OF YOUNGSTOWN OH



From: Autumn L. Kruer [mailto:autumnk"at"iglou.com]
Sent: Sunday, August 15, 2004 10:11 PM
Subject: RE: third nesting

I had a third nesting this year, too. Fledged yesterday. First time I’ve had babes in the box this late. Created a whole new problem with predators, though. Usually, my birds start in late March or early April, fledge by second week of May and then sometimes a second nesting afterwards. I seldom see them after late June to mid July.

When we cleaned out this last nest, I noted something new – tons of seeds in it. Walking around the woods yesterday, I realize that the dogwoods are fat with berries. I think that is what the seeds in the nest were. Never had a nestful of seeds before. I’m wondering if the plentiful bounty in the woods has something to do with it. Our land was full of blackberries this year and I noticed yesterday that the persimmons are so full this year that the branches are drooping.

Autumn in Kentucky


From: KimMarie Markel [mailto:auroramn"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 7:48 PM
Subject: Bluebirds, Finches and Mealworms In Western NY

... I started giving mealworms because we've had a pretty lousy spring/summer here and my only pair continues to come to the feeder to supplement their natural food supply (but they still choose natural sources over mealworms). The nice thing about feeding - I get to see their previous brood visiting (I know that all four are still around and doing ok because I see them - usually in the evening before they go off to roost for the night) and with some of the cooler evening temperatures we've had the parents come in to get mealworms for their recently fledged brood of 3 (saw all of them lined up on a black cherry tree branch on Saturday - perfect photo opportunity but didn't have the camera). But seriously - feeding them is more for my enjoyment and an opportunity to "count heads" - and a treat/easy meal for them. kimmarie :) Buffalo/Varysburg, Western NY


From: Gail [mailto:thorntog"at"ci.hamilton.oh.us]
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:03 AM
RE: Bluebirds, Finches and Mealworms

I agree that feeding mealworms is more for my benefit - I love watching the juveniles lined up begging for food even though they're capable of getting it themselves. I've seen the first and second nestlings fly off with worms in their mouth, so I'm hoping that they are helping the parents to feed the third set of fledglings out in the woods.


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:39 AM
Subject: Feeding Mealworms

I just saw a NABS flyer that says "It is a proven fact that baby bluebirds fledge earlier and healthier, along with having a higher survival rate when receiving a steady diet of mealworms during the first two weeks of life." I also figure that it helps single parents, and enables parents to stay closer to the nest to defend it, since they have to feed each baby about every 15-20 minutes, which someone calculated equates to something like 900 trips a day. And since weather is the biggest non-human induced factor affecting bluebird survival, feeding mealworms, berries and suet can help survival rates there also. I also figure it must help with molting since they need protein then (and mealworms are about 20% protein and 14% fat according to www.reptilefood.com.) When populations are as low as they still are on my meager trail, the survival of one batch of nestlings, or one nesting pair makes a BIG difference. Fawzi's website says put out 15 mealworms per bird. For me, that equates to about 50,000 mealworms if I do it for 3 whole mos. At $40/10,000, it's a pricey hobby. But one of the most fun parts of feeding is getting to see (and count surviving) fledglings. I don't want the bluebirds to be dependent on mealworms, but I see them hunting for plenty of other bugs. They can be little beggars though.... Bet

PS Bruce, and I eat ice cream for breakfast.

PPS Bluebird organizations can get a 5% contribution for every batch of mealworms ordered from reptilefood.com (the PMCA does this) - see below: Reptilefood.com is proud to announce our donation program designed to support local pet societies and clubs and their members. We believe strongly that successful hobby participation is fostered and encouraged by involvement in a local society or club. Thank you for your interest in our program. The donation program provides participating clubs and societies with an entrance URL to our Reptilefood.com site. All orders placed through this entrance URL will be eligible for the donation program. Reptilefood.com will donate an amount equal to 5% of the product total for each order placed. After the enrollment form, signed by the club/society president, is received you will be given an entrance URL for your club/society members. All orders placed through this URL entrance will accrue to your account and the donations will be sent to the registered address quarterly. We appreciate your support and we enjoy serving you. Thank you.


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 10:11 AM
Re: Feeding Mealworms

Bet, this is a very interesting flyer! Did you happen to notice if the studies were done by NABS? Or was it from a product company with NABS sanction? I don't recall reading about a mealworm study in any NABS literature. Boy, if this is a legitimate fact, we'll have to change some of our thoughts. I use Fawzi's recommendation of 15 mealworms/bird (some days, maybe a few more LOL) Did the flyer have a maximum recommendation? Were any disadvantages mentioned? Personally, I haven't seen bluebirds stop eating bugs just because I'm feeding mealworms. However, I have wondered if birds are able to metabolize the protein. Digestive enzymes vary from species to species. Between sparrows & mealworms - the list has been busy! Dottie Roseboom


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 10:22 AM
RE: Feeding Mealworms - NABS

It is called Feeding Bluebirds, and has a big NABS logo on it, with "BWA02" in lower right corner, and the NABS address at the bottom, with a sentence saying "This information has been provided to you by the North American Bluebird Society." It came with a feeder I bought from Afton Mountain Wildlife. BUT it's not on the NABs website - there is another fact sheet at http://nabluebirdsociety.org/mealworm.htm that doesn't have that sentence about "proven fact" in it. Jim McLochlin - can you help with this? I haven't seen anything on the research that they reference, and it's not in any books I have. Maybe in back issues of the NABS Sialia/Bluebird Journal? (Bad Me, I've only been a member for a few years.) The fact sheet on the NABS website says "Because they should be used as a supplemental food, mealworms should only be offered once or twice a day unless poor weather conditions dictate more frequent feeding. A hundred or so worms offered morning and evening would be adequate for a pair with a box of nestlings." Bet from CT -----Original Message----- From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net] Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 10:26 AM To: Elizabeth Zimmerman; 'Gail'; auroramn"at"verizon.net; bluebird-l"at"cornell.edu Subject: Re: Feeding Mealworms Bet, I can't help wondering if all you Bluebirders out there would feed the birds or monitor your boxes as frequently as you do if your nearest pairs of boxes were a half-mile from your yard, and the farthest were five miles or more. (I have no Bluebirds in my yard, ever.) My 72 boxes would take me most of every day in the summer. I'd have to eat my bag lunch in the car, and tow a trailerful of mealworms. I have nothing against 'back-yard Bluebirders,' in fact I envy them. But I hope they realize how very lucky they are.



From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 11:09 AM
Subject: Re: Feeding Mealworms - NABS

Hmmm, I hope that Jim or someone can help. I would have thought that a study showing such a fact would have been published in NABS. Of course, I could have easily missed it (chasing bluebirds!).  The 100 mealies that you mentioned is what I remembered NABS recommending. Perhaps their fact sheet hasn't been updated. However, in today's technical world, we do have to be careful of what we read.
    Dottie Roseboom
    Peoria    IL    (central - zone 5)

From: judymellin"at"netzero.com [ mailto:judymellin"at"netzero.com ]
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 12:20 PM
Subject: supplemental feeding

It seems that Tina mentioned early this spring- or last fall- that Cornell would be doing a study of successes in boxes with and without supplemental feeding. Did anyone sign up for this? Maybe Tina can address this issue.

I'm with Bruce in that my trail is a 30 mile round trip from my house and, even if I wanted to feed, it would be impossible. But, since I began monitoring this trail in 1993, there have been only losses of three nests due to cold weather, all over the Memorial Day weekend. Would thay have survived if supplemental feeding had been available? There is no way to answer that question but I think the trail success makes it very clear that birds can- and do- survive and thrive on their own. After all, what did they do for the millennia before anyone thought to feed mealworms?

Judy Mellin

NE IL.



From: Chris&Crystal Hill [mailto:crystaljhill"at"msn.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: supplemental feeding

When entering data for TBN you have the option of entering data for supplemental feeding.  I have only yard boxes and I do offer mealworms.  With only 2 eggs of my EABL eggs hatching this year they were fed quiet well.... The CACH also utilized the mealworms in feeding their 5.  Also I noticed that on rainy days they utilized the easy meal more frequently. And some weeks they hardly touched the mealies..... Crystal Social Circle, Newton County GA

From: DIANE MARKEL [ mailto:auroramn"at"verizon.net ]
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 4:44 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding Mealworms

Bruce,

YES!, I realize how lucky I am to be able to see these beautiful birds every weekend while having my morning coffee, gardening, or just relaxing, especially since this pair didn't use any of my boxes for their first nesting (I'm 99% sure they found a natural cavity nearby - this is the pair that finally gave up and left in June because of the TRES harrassment), but they brought the fledges to the 3 acre backyard not only for mealworms, but also to hunt for insects, perch on the power lines, use the bird baths and roost in the evening. They finally nested in a box that is located about 150 ft from the back of the house and the last 3 fledged on August 16th.

Eastern Bluebirds aren't the only ones taking advantage of the mealworms I put out. House Wrens and Black Capped Chickadees will come in and take some and I have seen Juncos, Chipping Sparrows and Catbirds pick up the ones that have fallen to the ground.

And no, if I had to travel the distances that many of you do I wouldn't be taking mealworms with me either. As it is I'm only in the country on the weekends, so my monitoring and feeding only takes place then. But in the past few weeks Tony has been keeping an eye on the "family" and on rainy or cooler days/evenings he has been putting mealworms out for them. He has told me that if the weather is nice and they're finding bugs on their own, they ignore the feeder (yesterday they were too busy following him while he was mowing the lawn - mealworms were left untouched).

kimmarie :), Buffalo/Varysburg, Western NY



From: Jim McLochlin [mailto:bluebirdbox"at"cox.net]
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 6:51 PM
Subject: RE: Feeding Mealworms - NABS

I personally don't recall there being a study that concluded this.  I am asking the NABS Technical Advisrory Committee and the NABS hotline Committe for help on this one.  I will forward the respons to the list when it is available.

Jim McLochlin
Omaha, NE
41.279N -96.060W

NABS Director, TBT Chairperson, and NABS Web Site Chairperson http://nabluebirdsociety.org ....


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2004 7:23 PM
RE: supplemental feeding

An entire clutch of 13 day old bluebirds died on my trail during the extended period of cold, rainy weather we had in May 2003. It was several days after I had run out of mealworms and was waiting for another order. I attributed the death to hypothermia, and think that the lack of a reliable, nearby food supply was probably a factor, because the parents had to leave the nest for longer periods of time, and also were probably soaked when they came in for feedings. Yes, Bruce, it would be tough to feed mealworms to bluebirds that were miles away, I certainly doubt I'd do it! My trail only covers about 2 miles and even then I use a bicycle/scooter sometimes to go around. I tried to recruit a neighbor to help with feeding, but she was too grossed out by the mealworms. Bet


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2004 9:44 PM
Re: supplemental feeding

Bet, your neighbor cracks me up - she'd better never come around my house. I have critters a lot grosser than mealworms LOL. I don't think that you are insisting that monitors with large trails have to feed mealworms to their bluebirds. Mealworms are just one tool that many people are able to employ while taking care of their bluebirds. IMHO, I don't think that the bluebird of today faces the same problems of the bluebirds of 500 years ago. Therefore, we might have to utilize a few tools that weren't used 500 years ago, such as nestboxes on metal poles protected by baffles, sparrow & cat controls, & perhaps the mealworm. Instead of dis-regarding mealworms because birds did not have access to them 500 years ago, perhaps we need to find out if birds can even utilize the fat & protein in the mealworm. Penicillin was not available 500 years ago, but most people today use antibiotics. Guess that this is another never-ending discussion :-) Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, August 27, 2004 8:54 AM
Subject: mealworms/NABS and research Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant Texas

This "research" sounds more like a mealworm company has taken feedback from NABS members and produced an info-mercial. It honestly makes sense that a steady diet of any insect would benefit a bird about to begin laying eggs. Since we have SO many on this list who feed and watch their backyard birds then they should help Caren Cooper with some widespread research into this subject this coming year. For information into installing Temperature Data loggers or helping with mealworm research contact Caren Cooper cbc25"at"cornell.edu so she knows how many would be willing to help next year. KK


From: jkoblish"at"comcast.net
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 9:26 AM
Subject: Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Bruce - Being the expert that you are, can you help me with a problem? I was out of town for a week and had no one to feed my bluebirds while I was gone. After finding the feeder empty, they apparently have abandoned me and my yard. I have since returned home and am putting mealworms in the feeder and have also resumed the dripper on the bird bath, but no blues. Any suggestions? I call and call, but they don't come. I had the dad, mom and two youngsters before I left a week ago. HELP!!! Julie In Nashville


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 10:18 AM
Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Julie, in Nashville, et al, At this time of year it's common, in fact it's routine, for Bluebirds to move away from the place where they were raised (and fed). My guess is that they go someplace where the foraging and the cover is better. I'm not a Bluebird, so I can't say for certain. Possibly it has to do with predators and/or competitors in the vicinity of their box and their feeder. The nice thing is that, - at least here in NH, - they often come back in their little family flocks and hang around the old neighborhood for a few weeks. What they do next in TN, where it's warmer, I have no idea. At risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll say again that mealworm feeding, though it certainly is FUN for the Bluebirder and makes for good photographs (just ask that sly old coot Wendell Long), is NOT necessaRY for the Bluebirds. They didn't leave your neighborhood because you went out of town for awhile and didn't feed them. They disappeared for their own Bluebird reasons, and I wouldn't be surprised if they returned, by and by, as inexplicably as they moved away. We can grow very attached to these critters, but the fact remains that they are wild birds, and they don't "belong" to anybody. Enjoy them while they're around, and when they leave, make your preparations for their next arrival. Thank your lucky stars, as we say in NH, that you have them in your life sometimes. Many people have never seen one in their lives. I do ramble on, don't I? Bruce Burdett, NH Bluebird Conspiracy


From: JOHN & BARBARA SIBIO [mailto:jsibio"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 12:00 PM
Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Amen, Bruce! I had never seen a bluebird until I was well into my 50's, even though I had loved and enjoyed birds all of my life. I'm so grateful that I've had these experiences with them for the past dozen years. And Julie, they will return! I've been missing "my" bluebirds for the past month or six weeks, and since the West Nile Virus has just arrived here I've been quite concerned for all the birds that I no longer see. Well, this morning a male bluebird was sitting in the oak behind my house while I had my coffee, on the branch where he always perched when he and his mate had a nest in the nestbox in our garden. Sure did brighten my day. Barbara in Cloverdale, CA


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 1:26 PM
Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Bruce, NH bluebirds must be related to my bluebirds, as mine too leave after the fledglings get some age on them :-). I try not to worry, as they usually re-show in late October or November. (I assume that they are the same, as they know come to my "dinner bell" and know how to use the feeder.) BTW, Julie, this has happened in my area every year for the last 17. This year I left mealies for them - but they still saw fit to leave. Like Bruce said, I think that we need to realize that bluebirds are NOT pets. I have many friends who did not know that bluebirds existed, until they saw them here. So appreciate them when you can. I also provide HEATED water for them in the winter. They'll come in for it, even without feeding mealworms. Will be rejoicing when they return. :-) And Bruce, if you didn't ramble on, how could we learn anything? Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)



From: Shawn [mailto:shawnee4"at"charter.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 11:12 AM
Subject: Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Julie, I live in Sevierville, TN, moved here this May.  I am new at this.  We didn't know to feed mealworms, and didn't.  Had an occupied house, and at the end of July it was abandoned (found out was the end of seaseon, and nestlings had fledged, so they didn't need the house anymore) .  Didn't see them for a couple weeks, but then started seeing dad bring the kids around.  Sometimes the fledglings perch on the house and look for food.  Have even seen them look in the empty house.  It is kind of funny.  Maybe yours will reappear in a couple of weeks, too.  I hope so. Shawn

From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 2:55 PM
Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Shawn, it's perfectly normal for parents to "hide" new fledglings for a week or so. And if nesting season is not over, the parents will return to start another nest. What I was referring to (and I think Bruce was too) is that in late August/early September, when nesting season is indeed finished, many bluebirds disappear for 5 -10 weeks. I always refer to it as their "summer vacation" - LOL. I believe that they camp out in our woods, seeking shade from the "dog-days" of summer. And Bruce's suggestion of moving away from "baby land" to confuse predators probably has merit. Perhaps "southern" birds do not have the habit of disappearing after the SEASON is finished. And once again, I'll repeat that I've had beautiful success with nestboxes for 17 years. This has been the first year that I've used mealworms. Haven't noticed any more/any less success with nestlings. Did notice lots of aggression in Chickadees as they fought over mealworms. Having smaller, separate feeders in various areas seemed to help. Mealworms are NOT necessary to establish bluebird trails. (but they are fun!) Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: JOHN & BARBARA SIBIO [mailto:jsibio"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 3:25 PM
Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Shawn, I tried dried meal worms which I bought from Audubon, and the bluebirds wouldn't even look at them. I think their food needs to be moving! The other birds ate the dried worms, though, and they were expensive to buy. I'll feed the Bluebird Banquet in the winter, but the rest of the year they'll have to find their own creepy-crawlies. Barbara in Cloverdale, CA


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 4:48 PM
Re: HELP!! Bluebirds flew the coop!

Barbara, did you try the dried meal worms in the winter, in the same dish with the Bluebird Banquet? Also, did you try soaking them for a few minutes in warm water before offering them? Maybe our winters are severe enough, that our blues will eat dead bugs, out of desperation. Guess that yours might be milder? AND I do definitely agree with the expense! IMO, most monitors (and bluebirds) would be better off with using that money to add another nestbox & baffle. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: SCooke [mailto:ncw001"at"nc.rr.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 6:20 PM
Subject: Bluebirds flew the coop! and mealies or not?

Hi to all from NC. Some of you may remember that I had my first backyard bluebird experience this summer. I fed mealies regularly to my female who was left alone before she laid her 4th egg. I figured that she needed all the help she could get since she didn't seem to have a partner to help her through the brooding and the raising of the young. So, while I too tend to be more of the naturalist mindset, I was glad to have mealies available for them. At least the mom didn't have to fly too far so find enough food to feed her babies. I might also add that in spite of the mealworms, mom did take time to find and offer other bugs, etc. I'm sure she knew exactly her babies needed to have a well-rounded diet. I have found the talk of bluebird vacation amusing and very true at my house also. The 3 babies fledged on July 24 and spent the next 3 weeks or so being fed mealies from my feeder. As they have matured, I have seen less and less of all of my EABL's in spite of continued mealie offerings. It has been a great summer and I now find myself looking for suitable places in my neighborhood for more boxes next year. When should new boxes be put out so that next year's birds will consider them for nesting? Any advice on starting a bluebird trail? I don't want it to become so much work that I lose the fun factor.



From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2004 7:14 PM
Subject: Re: Bluebirds flew the coop! and mealies or not?

Hi Sharon,  When people start talking about caring for bluebirds, I think that it's good to see "where they are coming from." I take it that you are monitoring because you enjoy seeing such a beautiful bird in your yard. Therefore, I would expect that you would help a single parent raise her young, by providing supplemental food. Not much fun seeing haggard babies.  However, if a monitor has 300 nestboxes in a state park, he/she might not realize that the bluebird is a single parent.  His motivation is to ensure the largest number of fledglings with the least amount of energy. Adding more nestboxes, rather than supplemental feeding, would probably be more beneficial for his cause. (how could he ensure that only bluebirds were eating the mealies) Great to hear that you want to add a few nestboxes.  IMO, anytime is a great time to add nestboxes. In my area, bluebirds check out nestboxes in the fall. Some people suppose that they "remember" this for next spring. Who knows?   If you put up nestboxes before spring, be sure to use screen between the pole and baffle, to prevent mice from using the nextbox.  I've also put up nestboxes in late spring, and have had birds move right in. Good luck!
    Dottie Roseboom
    Peoria    IL    (central - zone 5)

From: Lana Hunt [mailto:lanahunt"at"kcp.uky.edu]
Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2004 3:35 PM
Re: Feeding Mealworms/our pleasure

Bruce, Having only 2 real houses so far, I feed meal worms, but you are right, it is for my pleasure of being able to watch them, as one is visible from the front porch and one from the back porch (with binoculars), and there doesn't seem to be a shortage of bugs for them with our wet summer. My goal is to add several more this winter/spring back on into pastures that are not visible without a long walk, and they probably won't get mealworms. It is a luxury for the voyeur, and I realize how lucky I am, I just spoke with a friend in Cleveland, Ohio, she said she has never seen a "real" bluebird. I do keep finch and other feeders filled, and suet feeders later, even when I'm not there because I feel they now count on me, or really maybe I feel they will move away if there isn't food handy. (smile)


From: PTom [mailto:ptom"at"austin.rr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 10:36 AM
Subject: scientific studies on mealworm feeding?

Have scientific studies been done on mealworm feeding? I'm intrigued by the posts yesterday indicating that bluebirds who are offered an endless supply of mealworms might not get a balanced diet. It's my recollection that Dr. Patricia Gowaty and other experts have indicated that bluebirds will only use mealworms for supplemental feeding? I've understood that we're usually not really helping, but we're not hurting. I've been advised that there are cases when a mate has been killed by flying into a window (a situation caused by mankind), where offering mealworms would help. And, there are cases where we could "help" in extreme weather conditions - in which case we, could be hurting by not allowing the survival of the fittest. But, we're not hurting. My overall understanding is that mealworms are for humans ... to allow us to see bluebirds up close; to allow us to develop a relationship with the bluebirds; and, to allow us to feel like we're "nurturing". But, I've talked with some who feed mealworms to their "yard birds" and their anecdotal evidence (comparing their yard birds to their trail birds) implies that the nesting season is extended and there's a higher ratio of hatched eggs. On the other hand, yesterday Evelyn Cooper said, "I suggest you don't put out mealworms if you want them eat anything else. Mealworms are like ice cream to and they will fill up on them. ... I tried feeding mealworms and other things at the same time and they only ate the mealworms." And, Haleya Priest agreed, "Once they get "spoiled" on mealies it is hard to get them to eat anything else. I did "train" mine to eat bluebird banquet, but they'd always munch down the mealies first." Are mealworms more or less nutritious than raisins and/or bluebird banquet? Why would bluebirds choose mealworms over other foods? Can bluebirds eat so many mealworms that the feeding is detrimental to their health? One thing I do know without a scientific study ... Birds (of many species) can eat enough mealworms that it's detrimental to my pocketbook :-) Pauline Tom Mountain City (no mountains) South Central Texas


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 11:13 AM
Re: scientific studies on mealworm feeding?

Yep, Pauline, I think that we need more info about mealies. A question that went through my mind: Why will bluebirds flock to the mealies in summer, when insects are available, but will only eat the banquet in winter, when insects are scarce? And I guess that Blues are pretty smart to eat the mealies and leave the banquet, knowing that more mealies will appear the next day. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5) NABS member


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 12:27 PM
RE: scientific studies on mealworm feeding?

This is my own personal opinion. Bluebirds don't normally have access to insects and worms come the winter months and they naturally rely on berries and fruits to sustain them. That is their natural diet during those months. They have been here for millions of years and survived without mealworms. I think Pauline is right that SUPPLEMENT feeding is fine, but should be stopped when the insects are abound. When spring comes and warm weather arrives, mine normally abandon the feeder of raisins and chunky peanut butter ball for the insects. However, never say never as I have one backyard pair that came for a raisin or two almost all summer. It was never more than a raisin or two a day, and they are the only pair that did. I think it is good for Bluebirds to know where they can get food in the winter (especially those that over-winter) in case of severe cold is crippling for days. Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA Louisiana Bayou Bluebird Society


From: Shane&Emily Marcotte [mailto:marco50"at"bellsouth.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:45 PM
Re: scientific studies on mealworm feeding?

I tried feeding mealworms here in the summer and they didnt even eat all that I put out.They seemed to prefer the abundance of insects in the field.As usually seems to be the case its a matter of location I guess.With our mild Winters here it seems that they can find bugs year round.I know bugs seem to still find ME year round so I know they are here. Shane Marcotte Watson Louisiana LBBS Member


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 9:18 AM
RE: scientific studies on mealworm feeding?

Great discussion on this topic. It reminded me that I'm not sure I posted the NABs response to my earlier post about a NABS flyer I was sent with a bluebird feeder I bought from Afton Wildlife that claimed that "studies show..."

The flyer was called Feeding Bluebirds, with a NABS logo on it and "BWA02" in lower right corner, and the NABS address at the bottom, with a sentence saying "This information has been provided to you by the North American Bluebird Society." It said: "It is a proven fact that baby bluebirds fledge earlier and healthier, along with having a higher survival rate when receiving a steady diet of mealworms during the first two weeks of life." BUT it was not on the NABs website - there is another fact sheet at http://nabluebirdsociety.org/mealworm.htm that doesn't have that sentence about "proven fact" in it. I haven't seen anything on the research that they reference, and it's not in any books I have. ... And I have pretty much every one written in the last 30 years. (I don't have back issues of the NABS Sialis/Bluebird Journals though...anybody want to sell theirs?)

Jim McLoughlin (NABs Director, TBT Chairperson and NABS Website Chairperson) checked with the NABS Technical Advisory Committee on this. .... In essence the feeling was that the flyer I got from Afton was created for a Bird Watch America show (thus the document number of BWA02). Although no one took credit for creating the document, it was felt the document was created in haste without formal approval specifically for this event, during a period of transition, and that in a perfect world all of those documents would be retracted and replaced by current ones. SO basically, it was a real NABS document, but it is not current, and they were not aware of any research that supported the statement above. I'm going to e-mail Afton with this info. The current fact sheet on the NABS website says "Because they should be used as a supplemental food, mealworms should only be offered once or twice a day unless poor weather conditions dictate more frequent feeding. A hundred or so worms offered morning and evening would be adequate for a pair with a box of nestlings." I've watched bluebirds that come to my feeder and tried to count how many they each gobble down. I'd say 7-10 per bird, maybe 2x/day (NOT a scientific study! :-) Bet from CT


From: Sweetolive
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 9:39 AM
Subject:
Mealworm Concerns

I don't believe you need to be overly concerned with feeding the bluebirds too many mealworms. We need to give them a little credit.... i.e. they operate on instinct. That is why you can put out an endless supply of mealworms during the first 3 or 4 days after the nestlings hatch and the adult bluebirds will not feed them the first worm. They know by instinct that the babies can't handle them yet. By the same token, I have observed that later, the adults will feed mealworms; then leave the mealworms to return to hunting insects. They know by instinct to provide a diverse diet. I will continue to provide all the mealworms my birds can eat, and let them decide the appropriate amount. Regarding the statement: " It is a proven fact that baby bluebirds fledge earlier and healthier" when being fed mealworms... On the contrary, I believe that a well fed baby bird will be more likely to fledge later. This is desirable, of course, because, if well fed, the later they fledge, the stronger they are. A stronger bird naturally has a better chance. Most people view a fledged bird as achieving success. For me success or failure comes a 10 or 11 days after fledging. I then see how many of the babies survived when they follow their parents down to the feeder.  Olive Jones Louisiana



Continued in Part 3


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