Sometimes, it's unbelievable to me the amount of mealworms we go through at the bird store. Birds absolutely love those guys and they really do make a difference in how many orioles you will have visiting your feeders during nesting season.
For me there are a couple of down sides, number one being that I have a severe allergy to mealworms or to their frass (fancy science term for mealworm poo). I sneeze uncontrollably, my eyes puff up and the back of my mouth gets swollen and itchy. To make matters worse I have been having a dickens of a time with one of my suppliers who keep sending lackluster worms (if you can imagine). This company used to have the biggest, fatest mealworms at a fairly reasonable price but recently our shipments have been full of stinky and dying worms and on top of that their prices just went up. None of this helps my allergies. We recently switched to a local supplier of mealworms but I'm still trying to get rid of the last stanky (yes, I mean STANKY) mealworms from the other company. Some of the bags are so bad that customers are refusing them even at clearance prices (birds will still eat them as the ones out behind our store proved the past few days, but the smell makes mealworms ickier than the already are). So to save my sinuses I have been putting them at the feeding station behind the birds store, much to the delight of the many birds that visit. There has been a steady parade of orioles (like the female pictured above) lining up for the squiggling pile on the ground. The first day a male oriole chattered impatiently as Denny piled them out. As soon as he was finished the oriole hopped from branch to brach chirping loudly sounding as if he couldn't believe his luck finding such a booty.
Of course other birds soon followed. The really weird thing was last night as I was leaving the store a young cottontail came out looking for food. It was old enough to be on its own but small enough to fool someone into thinking it needed help. Anyway, it went over to the pile of worms and munched on a couple of the really black dead ones! Who knew, carnivorous bunnies? Before I had a chance to observe further to see if the cottontail would happily eat more, the resident Cooper's hawk flew by and sent everyone for cover.
Today we had to add more mealworms to the pile so I set out the NovaBird Camera to see what kind of footage I could get. Some of the photos are blurry but I still enjoy them because there's a story there.
One of the resident catbirds has not only been eating mealworms but has also been making regular stops to our mixed nut feeder. Many customers also report catbirds eating grape jelly and suet (especially the No Melt Suet Plug--best suet EVER).
The photo before this one was a chipmunk, so I wonder if this male oriole was trying to bluff it to get it to go elsewhere. The chipmunk did not eat any of the mealworms in the numerous photos it appears in.
It looks like this female red-winged blackbird has at least five mealworms in her bill to take back to a nest full of chicks. Interesting we only caught females doing this on camera and not the males.
There's that chipmunk and in front is another red-winged blackbird female and this one looks like she has four mealworms and is still going for more.
Grackles appeared in several photos and don't apprear to be eating mealworms! I mixed in some Joe's Mix and a few mixed nuts with the mealworms and in every photo that a grackle appears in, its bill is full of nuts--no mealworms. I strongly suspect that they do eat mealworms, but these particular grackles were really in the mood for nuts.