Where have the bluebirds gone?

Published 7:17 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

Just yesterday the bluebirds were raiding our feeders. Then, wham, they seem to be all gone. Where did they go?

We know that the bluebirds migrate (most of them, but some don’t get the memo and remain north, much to our joy). Like robins, bluebirds have no fixed location for their winter retreat. They are happy to go anywhere there is food, water and shelter. Some may go so far as Florida, southern Georgia or Alabama. Others may migrate shorter distances —going no further south than necessary — so they can return earlier in the spring than the others. Then they get their choice of the best nests.

To entice those still here to stay for the winter, or to get new houses ready for the migrants when they return next spring, put a bluebird nest in your own backyard. You can purchase well-constructed and inexpensive bluebird houses from the non-profit Eastern Bluebird Rescue Group (www.easternbluebirdrescue.org). Their heart pine houses are specifically designed to attract bluebirds to your community. Volunteers from the Cypress Landing Golf Course Green Committee have recently replaced nearly 50 older bluebird houses with these new attractive houses.

If you already have a bluebird house, now is a good time to clean it out for new or returning residents.

A bluebird box is perhaps the easiest and most rewarding way to do something good for the environment.
— Michigan Bluebird Society

You may entice bluebirds to stay all winter if your feeders have a constant supply of mealworms, their favorite food. During heavy snow cover, add suet, nuts and berries to the menu. These bird foods are available in several local stores.

Or make your own bluebird food. Bring 2 quarts water and 1 cup margarine to a boil. Add 4 cups of grits (not instant); cook, stirring, until thickened. Mix in 1 cup of peanut butter (crunchy is fine) and some raisins. Freeze in low plastic or foil containers.

In addition to food, make sure your winter guests have a ready supply of water. When temperatures drop below freezing, keep the water in the birdbath warm (you can get electric — even solar — birdbath warmers or you can just refill the bath with warm water whenever the water might freeze).

Sandra Swan is the coordinator of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program at Cypress Landing Golf Club. She can be reached at sandra.swan8184@gmail.com.