Live Mealworms – Not Just For Baby Bluebirds

There is so much to like about spring and at the top of the list is baby-bird season. When nesting birds and their young are in the yard, feeder watching is action-packed! If you felt left out last nesting season, try offering live mealworms. Your feeding station may become the most popular on the block.

Don’t let the name “mealworm” fool you. These are not actual worms. They are a dry beetle larva  stored in a tub of bran. They’re clean, easy to scoop and easy to serve to your birds.

Pretty much any shallow container with smooth sides and no drain holes can serve as a make-shift mealworm feeder. For instance, a flat-disc hummingbird feeder can easily be converted into a mealworm feeder –simply remove the top or use a shallow glass bowl from your kitchen.

Placing new feeders in the yard often require patience as you wait for birds to find them. You can help birds discover your mealworms more quickly by hanging your mealworm feeder from, or near, an active suet or seed feeder. That’s when the entertaining feeding frenzy begins. Watch adult bird antics as they line up mealworms in their bill and carry them off to nestlings. Later, watch newly fledged young being fed by a parent, right at your own feeder. Fledglings are as big as their parents, but actively beg for food, fluttering their wings all the while. Many times, youngsters will look comically awkward, as they try to figure out their landing gear, not to mention what is okay or not okay to land on.

Additionally, after the young birds graduate and are on their own, they will typically continue to visit your feeders in groups all the way into fall.


Article by Darlene Betat; Photo of Gwen holding mealworms and a feeder by Colene Koehler