What Do Bluebirds Eat?

Attract Bluebirds With Their Favorite Foods

Bluebird eating berry on a branch closeup

The Spruce / jskbirds

Bluebirds are some of the most desired backyard birds and once you know how to attract them, you'll have these colorful birds frequently visiting your feeders. But what do bluebirds eat? The answer changes depending on the time of year and shifting nutritional needs that vary each season. For example, spring and summer nesting bluebirds are typically busy foraging insects for their young so they'll bypass the backyard feeders. But in the winter, bluebirds need food as an energy source to migrate, though some types travel farther than others. From fruits and berries to spiders and mealworms, learn what mouthwatering foods will tempt a bluebird's palate.

Natural Foods for Bluebirds

Bluebirds are thrushes, the same types of birds as American robins, hermit thrushes, solitaires, and fieldfares, and they share the same type of diet. Depending on the season, habitat, activity level, and general food availability, bluebirds eat:

  • Snails, grubs, caterpillars, and other mollusks and insect larvae
  • Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, ants, spiders, and other insects
  • Flying insects such as moths, termites, and mosquitoes
  • Berries such as sumac, holly, dogwood, pokeweed, and hackberries
  • Small tree and vine fruits including grapes and cherries

In general, all bluebirds are insectivorous and eat primarily insects throughout the spring, summer, and early fall. As cold temperatures kill insect populations in late fall and winter, the birds will consume more fruits when they can't find enough insects. Southern populations of birds will eat more insects year-round, but will still switch to fruit-based diets during cold periods.


It helps to know that eastern bluebirds, western bluebirds, and mountain bluebirds all love to eat insects, fruits, and berries.

Feeding Bluebirds in the Yard

There are a variety of foods that can be added to bird feeders to tempt hungry bluebirds. To supplement bluebirds' diet at the feeders, consider offering:

  • Mealworms, either live, dried, canned, or roasted
  • Small chunks of fruits, such as apples or pears
  • Whole or diced berries, including raspberries and blackberries
  • Softened dried fruits, especially raisins, blueberries, cranberries, and currants
  • Suet, preferably diced into small chunks, nuggets, or shreds
  • Chopped peanut hearts (no shells)
  • Peanut butter or bird dough
  • Sunflower hearts or small chips
  • Eggshells, broken into small chips, as supplemental calcium during the nesting season

Best Birdfeeders for Bluebirds

These foods should be offered in broad, open feeders that will help these thrushes feel comfortable and secure. Trays and dishes are best, as bluebirds will not typically perch on narrow ledges or short perches, but providing a cover over the feeding area will help keep the food protected from rain or snow. Live mealworms, especially, should be offered in small glass or plastic dishes with smooth sides to prevent the worms from crawling out of the feeder before they are eaten. Winter bluebirds may also visit a bird feeder garland that includes cranberries or other fruits, though they will not be interested in popcorn or cereal strings.

Because many bluebirds' favorite foods are very rich, it is best to offer them only in small quantities that the birds can consume in just one or two days. This will prevent bully birds from usurping all the food and chasing bluebirds away since these colorful thrushes are not usually aggressive at bird feeders and will often yield to larger or more energetic birds.

What Bluebirds Won't Eat

It is important to note that bluebirds won't usually eat the most common foods offered to backyard birds, such as whole sunflower seeds, millet, and mixed birdseed. While bluebirds will sample sunflower chips when they are easily available and no other foods are abundant, these birds don't typically eat seeds. They also don't sip hummingbird nectar, stay away from whole peanuts, and aren't big fans of cracked corn. Avoiding these less desirable foods at a feeder buffet or separating feeding stations to provide a bluebird-only section can help attract bluebirds to the feeders.

How to Attract Bluebirds to Your Yard

Bluebirds eat the same types of foods in the yard as they eat in any other habitat, and planting bird-friendly landscaping that includes berry bushes and fruit trees for birds is best to feed bluebirds. At the same time, all insecticide and pesticide use should be minimized or eliminated so bluebirds can find plenty of insects to eat, and cobwebs should be left intact to encourage spider populations. Bluebirds will eat the spiders while other birds use the web material for nesting.

It can be tricky to feed bluebirds, and understanding what bluebirds eat is the first step to successfully attracting these birds to the yard. Along with food, adding a clean bird bath and a suitable bluebird house can entice bluebirds to visit. Heated bird baths are especially critical for winter bluebirds, and roosting boxes are also useful in the colder months. While it is important to be patient while waiting for bluebirds to discover different foods in the yard, adding these extra attractions can make any yard bluebird-friendly.