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Many people hang traditional bird feeders in their yard to help supplement the diets of local birds and to experience the pleasure of drawing birds near the house for viewing. If you really want to provide nutritious food for local birds and would enjoy having them come near your home frequently, consider building a mealworm feeder. Mealworm feeders are used to offer birds live mealworms, the larvae darkling beetles, which are much more appealing to birds than traditional bird seed.
What is a Mealworm Feeder?
A mealworm feeder is a type of bird feeder in which mealworms are offered to birds instead of seed or suet. This type of bird feeder can be used in the same way as a traditional feeder, typically being hung from a tree or a bird feeder stand, and they can even take a shape similar to traditional feeders. Some mealworm feeders are tray-style, featuring a V-shaped tray in which mealworms are kept and others may feature mesh or plexiglass.
Benefits of Mealworm Feeders over Traditional Feeders
Mealworms are much more nutritious for birds than traditional seed because they contain more than 50 per cent protein. The high protein content of mealworms makes them particularly beneficial for young birds who experience the most growth during their first few weeks of life. Mealworm feeders are a great way to attract birds such as bluebirds into your yard to establish nests. While live mealworms are the most attractive to birds, dried and frozen worms can also be used.
Homemade Mesh Feeders
When making your own mealworm feeder, wire mesh is one of the easiest materials to build with. Build a wood frame and wrap it with wire mesh or purchase a set of wire storage cubes and snap them together. If you plan to use mesh for your mealworm feeder, make sure that the openings are no larger than 1.5 inches. This will prevent larger birds and predators from visiting the feeder and it will allow smaller birds to have easy access to the mealworms. Hang your feeder at least 100 feet away from any nest boxes in your yard and insert a plastic tray or dish into the feeder filled with 50 to 100 mealworms per day.
Jailhouse Style Feeders
By using wooden dowels, you can construct a jailhouse style mealworm feeder to hang in your yard. Build a basic wooden frame and attach thin wooden rods around the inside of the frame spaced at 1.5-inch intervals. The outer frame will provide birds with a place to perch as they eat and the 1.5-inch interval between rods will keep out squirrels and other predators. To prevent mealworms from escaping your jailhouse style feeder, build the feeder with a solid base and line the bottom two inches inside the feeder with cardboard or Plexiglas to keep the worms contained.
Plexiglas Mealworm Feeders
To make a Plexiglas mealworm feeder, first construct a birdhouse-shaped wooden frame. Use untreated hardwood to build the bottom, narrow sides and roof, and use Plexiglass for the two long sides. Before affixing the Plexiglas, drill two or three 1.5- to 2-inch holes in the Plexiglass positioned several inches up from the bottom. Assemble your feeder, fill it with 50 to 100 mealworms and hang it in your yard. It may take some time for birds to recognise the feeder as such, but once they do you will have the pleasure of watching birds through the clear sides of your feeder.
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images