Mealworms rejected

Homes for Wildlife

Homes for Wildlife
If you love the creatures in your garden, you'll love our Homes for Wildlife project. This is the place to ask and answer questions about making your backyard wildlife-friendly.
Wildlife in the garden

Mealworms rejected

  • Hi everybody!I start a new thread even if the topic has been treated somewhere else, but long time passed since someone posted this question and I wonder if he (it was Roger) solved the problem. I have the same one myself now. This is the situation: balcony, with several hanging feeders, a feeding table and dozens greenfinches and sparrows visiting them regularly. I put the dried mealworms on the table, among the seed mixture into the feeders (whole and slightly chopped) and randomly on the balcony floor. My aim is attracting other species like goldfinches, starlings, blackbirds, tits and black redstarts and since last week martins, all numerous around my house. None of these appeared yet, and the other two species literally avoid them. They stare at them, watch closely, sniff... and simply avoid them. If they find them in the feeders, throw them away :-( Then I soaked them in worm water for half an hour and displayed. No way. Then I soaked them overnight. No way (I even wondered if it makes any difference in taste, because the appearance did not change at all). I am curious but not enough to be tempted to taste them. :-) Anyway, it has been two weeks now. How long am I supposed to wait? Roger, did you succeed at last? Thanks Tiziana
  • Hi Tiziana, what do you have in your feeders? Have you tried sunflower hearts? Goldfinches, BT's and GT's will eat them. As far as mealworms go, my birds love the live ones, but shun the dried version. That might be because they have been spoiled by getting live ones for several years. The Starlings will take the rehydrated ones, but only if there are no live ones available.

  • Hello Tiziana. I don't know where you are, but it may not be the right time of year to be trying to attract new birds to the feeders. I think Martins only eat while flying & I've never heard them coming to feeders. Black redstarts have never been to our feeder but I put grubs that get dug up in the garden, in a dish in the middle of the lawn. I think they like "live" food. Blackbirds take cut up apples in our garden but thats all. We have just stopped feeding the birds as there is enough natural food around & this may be the same situation in your case. You could leave it for now & try again in November or December when the birds have less natural food around.

  • Thanks to both for your answers. I am in South Sardinia. I have 5 feeders and a table in the balcony. Sunflowers seeds are the main ingredient of the mixture I display in the feeders. I have a special feeder for sparrows with only Phalaris canariensis, I don't know the English name for that, but sparrows here eat almost exclusively that and only on that particular feeder. They never use the hanging feeders. On the table I put a mixture of sunflower seeds and of all the others seeds. Now I added mealworms both in the hanging feeders and on the table. Of course Martins and Black redstarts do not use the hanging feeders and I do not expect them to. We do not use mealworms here and in fact I ordered them from UK. But it seems very strange to me that even sparrows and greenfinches that have been regular to my feeders these last 10 years do not eat them. By the way, I never cease providing food in the feeders, because our summers are very hot and it is not easy at all to find food for birds in such a dry climate.

    I will keep showing mealworms and see what happens during the breeding period. Thanks!

  • Tiziana C
    Phalaris canariensis, I don't know the English name for that

        Hi Tiziana,   You must get some wonderful species of bird in Sardinia so keep us posted of what you see when you get time.        I looked up Phalaris and it appears to be called Canary Grass here,  I'd never heard of it before so interesting to see it is  a natural bird seed and harvested before being mixed with other seeds by bird food suppliers.    .      

  • Hi Hazel. Canary grass, of course that's the name! Well, sparrows here refuse the canary mixture or, better, they only eat canary grass and leave untouched the other seeds. They also eat bread crumbs of course but I do not display that unless it is my homemade bread. I think they can find plenty of that around. So I provide plain canary grass for them in their special feeder (a classic wall feeder actually, resembling a little house, in which seeds are deposited in an open place. They do not like picking from the hanging feeders). In fact I was wondering about the diminishing number of sparrows in Britain and I wonder if canary grass + birdtable would be an interesting solution for attracting them. Sparrows also eat what greenfinches loose when eating on the hanging feeders (small pieces of sunflower seeds). In general, they prefer peaking on the floor. I am sure that peeled sunflowers seeds would be  very much accepted by sparrows but I am not at all sure this would do them good. If they cannot eat them in nature, a huge quantity of them cannot be a good thing, I find. They are a great solution to avoid husks all around, surely. However, it would be interesting to study if their use can affect the habits of those birds which cannot eat that particular seed in nature, if left as is.

    In general, here we do not use to feed birds as often as you do in Britain. We do not use feeders ( I am quite sure I am the only one to have them in my town, in fact I bought them in UK) and consequently birds are quite suspicious and it can take years to attract them to feeders. I see tits, goldfinches, great woodpeacker, black redstarts, martins and of course sterlings and crows of all kinds all around my house. A coal tit and a goldfinch arrived once this January to see what was all that turmoil made by greenfinches, so I do not despair to see them sooner or later, using the feeders. I recently bought a nijer feeder, and will wait for Goldfinch to see it and hopefully use it. I will keep you updated, if are interested to. Thanks!


  • How wonderful to get birds like Black Redstarts, we rarely see them in UK but we do get Coal Tits, Goldfinch, Woodpeckers and others you mention.    As you say, here in Britain we do tend to feed garden birds and 75% of households put some food at at some stage but does beg the question whether it is correct to feed all year round;   I have done so following rspb  recommendation.    I find the most popular seed of all are sunflower hearts followed by suet/fat products in the colder months and kibbled peanuts along with sunflower hearts and suet pellets  during breeding season.  The sunflower hearts and suet go first and a lot of us on the forum make a simple pastry (left uncooked)  with plain flour, fat (lard or beef dripping) into which I put a handful of grated mild cheddar cheese and add a few suet pellets, kibbled nuts, sunflower hearts and add just enough water to bind the pastry together without it being too sticky.    A lot of the birds enjoy the pastry and you can place it on twigs, shrubs, fences and watch the birds come down to take it.   Having said this the natural foods you grow couldn't be better for the birds and I grow Teasel plants and wild flowers which both birds and butterflies seem to like.    

    Look forward to you updates Tiziana.

  • Oh, and they do not eat suet balls! :-(  I tried home made (several recipes) and those available in (UK) shops, no way. In full winter, I mean. When I tried to mix sunflower seeds in them, greenfinches picked those seeds out of the ball, leaving the rest. :-)

  • that's amazing Tiziana !   our finches love sunflower hearts but I often see the Blue Tit birds pick them out of the pastry and drop them on the ground so these days I just put kibbled nuts and berry suet pellets in the pastry;    fussy birds !