Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Attracting bluebirds

Trees and plants for bluebirds, advice about bluebird house placement


Eastern bluebirdEastern bluebird - United States Geological Survey photo

If you want to attract bluebirds year after year, consider planting some of the fruit-bearing trees and other plants that they like. Fruits are an important part of their diet, though they eat insects, snails, and spiders as well. Here are some of their favorites:
Fruit-bearing
trees for bluebirds:
Dogwood
Redcedar
Wild cherry
Serviceberry
Sumac
Bayberry
Holly
Hackberry
Other fruit-bearing
plants for bluebirds:

Pokeweed
Virginia creeper
Poison ivy
Mistletoe
Wild grape
Blackberry
Elderberry
Bittersweet
Blueberry

Where to place a bluebird nestbox:

In unspoiled nature, bluebirds nest in holes or cavities in dead trees. Obviously, dead trees don't have much foliage around the nest area -- just vines, at most. Bluebirds prefer their man-made houses to be placed in similarly open areas. They don't like a birdhouse that is hidden within a bushy clump of leaves and branches.

A steel fencepost in the longest size that you can find (7 ft. is generally available) makes a good, inexpensive pole for mounting a bluebird house. The steel post is difficult for animal predators to climb and if the box is mounted at the top of it, it is at an adequate height to satisfy bluebirds.

Bluebirds (and many other birds) prefer to nest near a source of water. If you don't have a stream or pond, provide a birdbath and be sure to tend to it.

Bluebirds are territorial. They are require at least a 100-yard circle of "private property". If you live in a neighborhood of closely-spaced houses and your next-door neighbor has a bluebird nest in his birdhouse you probably won't get a nesting pair in your yard. However, you'll still be able to enjoy the birds as they come to your yard to feed on the fruit you've provided for them!

Related post: Eastern redcedar: A tree that birds love

1 comments -- please add yours:

Mark said...

I have several hackberry trees on my property and would have to agree with the "warty" bark description. Very distinctive and easily recognizable, aside from the green, pea-sized "berries".

I've also cut up some hackberry wood from storm damage. Splits easily but takes forever to dry down. Tried buring some that I thought was ready in our fire pit only to watch the water bubble and ooze out of the end grain. I live in central Illinois (Heyworth).

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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