Erva Bluebird Mealworm Feeder Review

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Nancie

Male Eastern Bluebird Inside Erva Starling Proof Mealworm Feeder
Male Eastern Bluebird Inside Erva Mealworm Feeder

Are you looking for a bluebird feeder that will keep starlings out? After many weeks trying to offer dried mealworms to Eastern Bluebirds and Carolina Wrens, I finally have a winner, Erva’s Starling Proof Mealworm Feeder a.k.a. “Bluebird Feeder”! This is my review.

Note: This type of feeder is sometimes alternatively called a “Erva Barrier Guarded Feeder.”

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I went through several trials to get there. First I tossed mealworms into platform feeders. European Starlings (and a few Northern Mockingbirds) ate them all. Then I switched to a small Squirrel Buster Standard feeder. Starlings kept getting in even as I tried to retrofit the feeder in endless ways to keep them out.

I finally gave in and purchased Erva’s Mealworm Feeder through Amazon. This bluebird feeder is part of Erva’s “Starling Proof Feeder” series. (I couldn’t find it locally.) After watching starlings repeatedly try and fail to get into this feeder, I am declaring it a success. They only get scraps around the edges. And with an easy tweak to the feeder, I can deny them even that!

Caging Starlings From Mealworms

If you put food in a platform or hopper feeder, starlings can eat it easily. Because of the way their beaks work, they have more trouble with tube feeder ports. But they are tenacious. If they really want the food, they will even hang on tube feeders and worry the food out anyway. After weeks battling starlings in various feeder types, I realized that the only way to keep them out is to put a cage around the feeder.

Erva’s bluebird feeder is a large cage feeder where the food is deep inside the cage. Unless food is spilled on the feeder floor, starlings can’t reach it.

Starlings are determined to get at the mealworms, which they obsess over, so they haven’t totally given up. But the reality is that the only mealworms they get now are those dropped by a smaller bird. (I’ve since tweaked the feeder to almost eliminate even this.)

Erva Mealworm Feeder
Erva Mealworm Feeder (I sprinkled mealworms around bottom to jump start things.)

Erva Bluebird Mealworm Feeder

The extra large hanging baffles and shepherd’s hook feeder poles that I love so much in my yard are made by Erva. Their bluebird feeder’s top and bottom plates remind me of their baffles, only they are 14” instead of 21” in diameter. Sandwiched in between these two galvanized power coated steel plates is an 8” high cylinder of vinyl coated wire mesh. The mesh openings are just very slightly under 1 1/2” wide.

A cable attaches to the top of the wire mesh cylinder on opposite sides. To lock the roof in place, you move a slide all the way down. This cable adds about 12 ½” to the total height. Erva says, “This feeder features a hanging cable but it may also be mounted on a Tubular Pole or Deck Pole using our YSFF Mounting Plate.” 

I found the little glass bowl and its holder well wrapped separately inside the feeder when I opened the box. The holder attaches easily with a wheel-like thumb nut screw. No tools required. There is about 4 ½” of space from the outside edge of the bowl to the wire mesh. This is a distance too far for even the long-beaked starlings to reach.

Smaller birds hop inside and usually sit on the side of the bowl to eat. I filled mine with dried mealworms. Adjusting the cable slide, I hung it from the hook of one of my Erva baffles. (You could alternatively offer other things in the bowl; maybe jelly for orioles? Or you could offer live mealworms of course.)

Will Bluebirds Use This Feeder?

I really hesitated to buy this feeder because some Amazon commenters said their Eastern Bluebirds couldn’t figure out how to get inside. Some said the birds were too big to fit through the mesh. I’d also never seen the bluebirds in my yard go inside any of my other cage feeders.

But the starlings were driving me and the bluebirds crazy, so I took a chance and I’m glad I did. It really was not a problem. It took the bluebirds a few days to get completely used to the feeder, but the first one puzzled it out in less than an hour.

Male Eastern Bluebird on Improvised Perch
Male Eastern Bluebird on Improvised Perch

One recommendation in the Amazon comments was to add temporary perches to the feeder. This gives bluebirds a comfortable place to sit while they think through how to get inside the feeder. So I used super strong Scotch Super 88 vinyl electrical tape to temporarily attach two twigs to the bottom panel.

I actually made the twigs a bit too long at first. If they are too long, a bird landing hard on the end of the “perch” can move the feeder up like a seesaw. (Disconcerting for a bird inside!) Once I realized that, I got my pruners and trimmed the “perches” to a shorter 1 1/2” length.

After birds got used to going in and out for a couple weeks, I got rid of the perches entirely. If you want permanent perches, Erva sells a separate starburst-like wheel of metal perches that can be attached to the bottom.

European Starling Trying to Get Into Cage Feeder
European Starling Trying to Get Into Cage Feeder

Birds Figuring Out the Mealworm Feeder

Starlings Try the Feeder

The day this arrived, I put it up in the same spot as the previous feeder I had been using for mealworms. The birds immediately saw the change and immediately started trying to figure it out. Starlings landed on the outside and peered in. Climbing on the mesh, they circled it again and again and again but were unable to get in.

I must admit to a very uncharitable feeling of glee as I watched them fail to get into the feeder. (After watching them repeatedly bully all kinds of birds out of various feeders, I am not feeling very fond of starlings right now.)

A Carolina wren Pops Right Into the Feeder
A Carolina wren Pops Right Into the Feeder

Carolina Wrens Quickly Get In

The very first bird to get inside the bluebird feeder was, not surprisingly, a Carolina Wren. She flew right over and popped right through the bars to grab some mealworms. A pair of them are now regulars on this feeder (and had no need for the temporary perches.) They seem quite pleased with it.

Female Eastern Bluebird sits on feeder's improvised perch contemplating going inside.
Female Eastern Bluebird Contemplates Going Inside the Feeder

Bluebirds Watch & Figure the Feeder Out

The bluebirds took just a little longer. They first landed on the temporary perches and then circled it like the starlings were doing. Then they would come sit on one of the shepherd’s hook poles near where I was watching to look at me, as if to say, “Why not just toss some mealworms on the ground right here for me so we don’t have to figure this out?” 

But I think bluebirds are smart. The four visiting my yard each day have seen other birds hopping in and out of the three other cage feeders filled with sunflower for weeks. So I think they probably realized that I wasn’t trying to trap them. Once they saw wrens going in and out of this feeder so easily, they decided to give it a try. 

Pair of Eastern Bluebirds on the Feeder - one inside and one outside.
Pair of Eastern Bluebirds on the Feeder

The first bluebird in the feeder popped in, went through, and immediately popped back out. It was so fast that I wasn’t completely sure I had seen what I had seen. But he soon repeated the trick, this time stopping to sit on the edge of the bowl and eat mealworms. Once one bird in a group figures something out, others follow their lead. Some were a bit skittish at first, but within about a day, they seemed cool with the feeder.

Female Eastern Bluebird Eating Mealworms
Female Eastern Bluebird Eating Mealworms

Fewer Mealworms to Buy!

I had previously gone through almost all of the five pound bag of mealworms from Amazon in a little less than a month. Now that small birds can eat more of them and the starlings only eat scraps, I am going through MUCH less.

The little glass bowl’s interior dimensions are 3 1/4” wide by 1” deep. It holds about 3/4 cup of mealworms. The four bluebirds and two wrens currently eating them go through about half of that in a day. So the new bag I just bought is lasting LOT longer! (Note: As I’ve mentioned, I tweaked the feeder by changing the bowl to something bigger which works even better for dried mealworms.) Update: Erva now offers a larger metal cup that is 4″ wide by 2″ deep that can be purchased separately.)

There are other small birds in my yard that eat mealworms too, so that may change over time. So far the birds on this feeder (besides Eastern Bluebirds and Carolina Wrens) have been a White-Breasted Nuthatch and a Pine Warbler. Interestingly, I’ve never seen a House Wren on it.)

Other Starling Proof Feeders

The Starling Proof Feeder line that Erva sells is pretty interesting. The basic feeder design of two metal plates and wire mesh is standard for all six feeders in this line. The differences are feeder color and the inner food dispenser. Erva offers two mealworm feeders with a glass bowl in the middle, one copper color and the other blue.

They have other copper color versions:

with a spike for a seed cylinder

or a mesh tube for peanuts or sunflower seed

or a double suet cake basket. (I eventually purchased one of these and am very pleased with it!)

The final feeder is a green version of the suet feeder.

On Erva’s website, you can alternatively purchase these interior pieces separately. It looks like you could change the purpose of the feeder this way. Pretty cool.

Pair of Carolina Wrens eating mealworms in the feeder
A Pair of Carolina Wrens Eating Mealworms

Tweaking the Feeder To Work Better

This bluebird feeder does work well. Bluebirds and wrens seem very happy with it and it is easy to use. I think Erva designed it for live mealworms rather than dried mealworms though. Because of this, without an adjustment (which I figured out), starlings are only about 90% locked out.

Starlings can’t reach into the bowl itself. But bluebirds and wrens can be messy, sometimes flinging dried mealworms around, leaving them closer to the metal mesh. Starlings would come by a few times a day. One would hang on the side of the feeder and reach in to grab whatever spilled mealworms it could reach. They didn’t stay long and groups of them bickering over mealworms for long periods stopped. So even this was much better.

But I did some experimenting, trying different things to keep the starlings completely blocked out. It took a few tries, but the solution turned out to be easy, didn’t cost me anything and took about ten minutes. Now the starlings have moved on and the bluebirds and wrens can eat in peace. You can read about my solution in my “Dried Mealworms, Starlings & Erva’s Mealworm Feeder” post. Also See: Attracting Eastern Bluebirds: A Bird Watcher’s Journal and Bluebird Fledgling Stories.

This was not an inexpensive bluebird feeder, but it is well made and should last a long time. I suspect that I’ll easily make back the feeder cost in savings on dried mealworms that aren’t going into starling bellies.

Update: After five years of use, the coated metal hanger cable on this feeder broke. Replacement cables are available at Erva’s retail website as well as at some other third-party retailers who sell Erva products.

Also see: Strategies for Keeping Starlings Off Feeders


More on Putting Up A New Feeder

Will Birds Find My Feeders?

Birds Not Coming to Feeders

Which Feeders Attract Which Birds?

How to Hang a Feeder With a Hook

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14 thoughts on “Erva Bluebird Mealworm Feeder Review

  1. Thank you for this article. I too battled starlings before I found this feeder. The bluebirds and Carolina wrens love it! I agree that it pays for itself with the savings in mealworms. I was very impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of this feeder.

    1. Hi Dave,
      I’m glad you liked the article. : ) I (and the bluebirds) are still loving this feeder. Lately I’ve also been tossing a few peanut splits in with the dried mealworms. The Tufted Titmouses and Carolina Wrens are happy to snag them and they don’t get in the way of the bluebirds so everybody is happy . . . well, except for the starlings.

  2. I love Erva bluebird feeder. This keeps the starlings away from the mealworms I provide for the bluebirds. Although a bit pricey, this is a quality product. Worth the price.

  3. I think one of the best characteristics of Erva feeder is the wire mesh, wire mesh protects the bluebird during feeding time from invasive birds. It has a practical design, easy open and close.

    1. Hi Sandi,
      I don’t actually sell feeders or other products. You can follow the link near the top of the article to see it in Amazon.
      Good wishes,

    1. Hi Van,
      No I haven’t tried that one but it does look really interesting. I like the look of it ( My main struggle with feeding bluebirds was keeping aggressive starlings from eating all the meal worms and chasing the bluebirds away. Starlings are very persistent and will try to reach through the openings to get at the meal worms. So the open spaces would need to be big enough to let the bluebirds go in and out but small enough that a starling can’t stick its head and neck deep inside to get at the worms in the cup. That’s where the cage feeder I’m using does a good job. It would be really interesting to hear from someone who has used one of the Gilbertson feeders to see if this one works well for that.
      Good wishes,

  4. I bought this feeder and I love it, the starlings can’t get in . If the mealworms spill near the edge, the starlings can stick their beak in to grab them. The bluebirds were very hesitant at first. They got half way in and flapped their wings. I read the suggestion of putting perches on and it worked. The bluebirds sat and contemplated the best way to enter. Next thing I knew, they were going in easily.

    1. Hi Patricia,
      I love watching the bluebirds pop in and out of this feeder. Last year, I watched three bluebird fledglings all get into the feeder together to feast on mealworms.

  5. Many thanks for your advice and great ideas. I will give them a try.
    I plan to ask Santa for one of those nice bluebird feeders!

  6. I have a bluebird feeder with a wood frame over the top & holes along the side so bluebirds can get the mealworms which they do but my question is do they actually go inside the feeder,does anyone know? I have never seen one yet go inside!

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