Mar 13, 2017 | Featured Web Article

Add Mealworms to Your Buffet to Attract New Bird Species!

Mealworms aren't just for bluebirds! A summer tanager partakes of an offering from a backyard feeding station.
Share:

When the cold weather and dreary days seem to be dragging on, a change in routine can renew your energy. Why not make a change that rejuvenates your backyard birds as well?

Mealworms aren't just for bluebirds! Putting out mealworms in addition to your regular offerings can attract cardinals, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, sparrows, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, wrens—even the occasional warbler, oriole, vireo, and tanager. Insects are often overlooked in traditional bird feed choices, but once insect-eating birds discover that you offer them, they will flock to you for this part of their diet.

Mealworms are the larvae of the beetle Tenebrio molitor. One way to get mealworms is to purchase them freeze-dried. However, buying and feeding live worms will result in the happiest birds. You can buy live mealworms in various sized containers at your local Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop. Offering them is easy, and your birds will thank you for it.

When you get your mealworms, take them out of the packaging and place into a smooth-sided container with sides at least one inch higher than the worms—a plastic shoebox works well. They can't climb very high, so don't worry about escapees.

To feed your worms the fiber they need, put old-fashioned rolled oats into their container. Do not use quick oats; the bran has been removed. Also, as a source of moisture, add a couple chunks of carrots or apples into the mix.

When you get the mealworms home, store them at 40 to 50 degrees. Mealworms naturally stay in their larval stage for 10 weeks. If you keep them in your refrigerator, they will last for several months in a dormant state if properly cared for. Leave the top of their container uncovered, or poke or cut holes in it, because fresh air is a must. Every two to three weeks, bring the worms out of the 'fridge and let them sit at room temperature for a few hours to let them come out of their dormant state to eat.

When you feed mealworms to your birds, offer a small amount to start—about a dozen worms in a heavy dish that has sides to maintain them. A bluebird feeder or a glass or plastic tray feeder works well. A lightweight serving dish that could tip over when birds land won't be welcoming. To help birds find the worms, place the dish near your regular bird feeders, and serve them at the same time as you normally fill your feeders. Soon, birds will be watching for you to put more out every day. Once birds are regularly eating your mealworms, offer a small handful or two per day.

Watch for a different mix of birds at your mealworm feeder, and pay attention as birds become accustomed to their new food source. Adding mealworms to your bird feeding routine is sure to be a hit with your backyard birds!



What do you think? Tell us!

New On This Site

The Latest Comments

  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021
  • What is emptying my jelly feeder overnight.
    by Gary Vandervest, Wed, 25 Aug 2021
  • Thank you, Dawn. I'm close enough to Ohio (Ann Arbor, Michigan) that I went ahead and took my tubes down and scoured clean all my bird baths. I won't put up my tubes this winter, just my trays and safflower only just to keep the bullies away for a while.
    by Pat Moore, Mon, 09 Aug 2021