Looking for an awesome DIY project that is fun and good for bluebirds? Build them a nesting box! You’ll be charmed by their beauty and cheerful singing. Since their diet consists primarily of insects and grubs, your garden will benefit too!
Bluebirds are some of the most desirable cavity-nesting backyard birds, but they need a safe, attractive place to nest. Building bluebird nest boxes is a great way to help conserve birds at the local level. Nest boxes help maintain bluebird populations that have declined by as much as 90%.
With a few tools and materials, you can make a home for bluebirds in your backyard. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about bluebird houses from bluebird house plans to which side to place the nest box.
How to build a bluebird house?
Bluebirds will not nest in just any birdhouse. The right birdhouse will need to provide a good, safe shelter for a brooding adult and its nestlings. It also needs to be the proper size for bluebirds while encouraging unwanted residents.
Here are the specifications needed for a proper bluebird house:
- Entrance hole: 1.5 inches (1.56 inches for mountain bluebirds)
- Entrance Height: 6 to 10 inches above the house floor
- Interior Floor Space: 5-by-5 inches (for 5-8 chicks)
- Total Height: 8 to 12 inches (back slightly higher to shed water)
- Nest box height: 4–6 feet
- Minimum spacing: 300 feet
- Facing: South, southest
- Materials: Red cedar, pine, or almost any softwood. Use wood rough-cut on both sides so that birds can grip both interior and exterior surfaces.
Different design options are serviceable for bluebirds, including rectangular houses, sloped patterns, round cavities, and houses with either front or side panels that open for easy monitoring. Any of these houses are ideal for nesting bluebirds, so long as the house is constructed with their needs in mind and positioned to keep them safe from predators.
Free Bluebird House Plans
Okay, so you are going to build a bluebird house, now what? Well, you need to pick the best suitable design for the nest box. There are so many different bluebird nest boxes available and most of them work great. Here are six different designs that have been worked extremely well before. Check them out below:
1. Eastern/Western Bluebird Nestbox
2. Dandr Bluebird Nestbox
3. Gilwood Bluebird house
4. Texas Blues TB-1 Bluebird house
5. Troyer Bluebird Slot Box
6. Bluebird house for kids
Bluebird Nestbox Mounting
Building a bluebird house is only one part of the equation. The other part is mounting the nest box and location.
There are many ways to mount a bluebird nest box. For example, mount it on a pole or hang it in a tree. Be sure to place the box so that you can easily monitor it regularly.
Nestboxes can be installed at any time of the year. In the fall, the bluebirds will locate potential nest sites for the coming year, and during the winter they are often used as roost boxes by woodpeckers. In the spring and summer, bluebirds will use the boxes for nesting from late March to the beginning of August. Wearing gloves and a mask, remove the old nest and clean out the box after each brood.
The bluebird house may be nailed or screwed to the top or side of a wooden post. Or even bolted or wired to the top or side of a metal post. A smooth metal post (e.g., galvanized pipe) is preferred to a wooden post because it offers better protection against predators like cats, raccoons, and snakes. A 3/4 inch galvanized pipe threaded at one end can be neatly and firmly attached to the bottom of the house with a pipe flange.
You can protect a bluebird house on a wooden bost with a sheet metal collar or conical guard 18 or more inches wide attached just below the house. If predators are not a problem, bluebird houses may be mounted conveniently on posts of existing fences or on the trunks of isolated trees (not among the branches).
Bluebird houses should be mounted at the height of 5-7 feet, measured from the ground to the floor of the house—Mount nesting boxes by mid-March.
Bluebird house placement
Selecting the right location for your bluebird house is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, bluebirds rarely nest in cities, large towns, or close-in suburban areas. Best of all is an open area with scattered trees and a considerable distance from buildings. Pastures, fields, open wastelands, large lawns, cemeteries, golf courses are great options.
Face the bluebird house to an open area with a tree, large shrub or fence from 25 to 100 feet in front of the house. This is important because the young birdies have a better chance to reach this on their fist flight and hopefully have a better chance of surviving the first critical hours out of the nest. The house should face south or southeast.
Do not place your bluebird nest box in or near any area where is widespread use of insecticides or herbicides. These substances will destroy bluebirds’ food supply and can be fatal for the birds as well.
If you have more than one bluebird house, then space houses 100 yards apart and have a screen of shrubs or trees between if possible.
Tips for building a bluebird house
- Position the nest box so that the entrance hole is facing east and towards open habitat.
- To decrease competition from Tree Swallows, you can pair nest boxes about 15–20′ apart, with pairs of houses about 300′ from each other.
- Clean out old nests as soon as a brood fledges so that the nest box can be used for a second nest attempt. Remove and clean the box well after the brood-rearing season is past. Store clean and dry.
- If House Sparrows are a problem, consider drilling a second entrance hole beside the first one
- Make a “bluebird trail” of several houses about 100 yards apart, further in wide-open expanses and closer in clearings of wooded areas.
- Monitor the boxes for unwanted squatters. Deter predators with steel posts or sheet metal wrapped around wood posts. Avoid shade, but also avoid prolonged direct sunlight through the entrance if possible.
- In areas where the eastern bluebird range overlaps that of the mountain bluebird, use the larger nest box for mountain bluebirds and western bluebirds.
- Do not change the size of the entrance: 1 1/2 inches is correct for bluebirds.
- If you paint or stain the box, use a light color only on the outside of the box.
- A bluebird box should never have a perch. Sparrows and wrens are attracted to perches.
- Bluebirds prefer large lawns with short grasses because
- Make sure there are drainage holes drilled in the bottom of the bluebird house. You don’t want any water to accumulate inside.
- Include vents at the top of your bluebird house. It can get extremely hot inside of a bluebird nest box. Your birds will appreciate some holes drilled into the top to help with airflow and cooling.
- Another way to help decrease internal temperatures is to use wood that is at least 3/4 inches thick. And the lighter the color of your wood, the better. Make sure not to paint the outside of your bluebird house a dark color, such as green or black, since darker colors attract heat.
- If you live in an area where temperatures are routinely above 90 degrees F, then you should consider placing your bluebird box at least partially in the shade or create larger ventilation gaps.