Bluebird House Breakdown
As warmer days approach and the seasons start to change, bluebirds begin searching for nesting sites. You can help increase the bluebird population by inviting these lovely singing gems to roost on your property. Placing houses for bluebirds is especially important to their conservation because natural nesting sites have been greatly reduced. To attract bluebird pairs, ensure you have the correctly sized home for the type of bluebird in your area, place it properly, keep it protected from predators, and check it regularly.
While bluebird homes can be decorative, it is most important that they meet the needs of the birds. Successful homes should share some specific features. All bluebird homes should have a roof that extends well beyond the entrance hole. A 5" overhang prevents most predators from entering the home. Cross ventilation and drainage holes are also important features that keep the house dry and help regulate temperature. Each type of bluebird found in the United States has some specific preferences; however, you can find houses that will accommodate all three. Be sure to purchase or build a home that meets the needs of your bluebirds to ensure a successful nesting season. The eastern, western, and mountain bluebirds all prefer houses with an overall height of 11" to 12" and an entry hole located 6" to 7" above the floor. The eastern bluebird, found in the eastern half of the United States and southern parts of Canada, prefers a home with a minimum 1 1/2" entry hole and an interior floor space of 4" x 4". The western and mountain bluebirds, prevalent in California, Oregon, Washington, and parts of western Canada, tend to prefer a slightly larger, 1 9/16" diameter entrance hole, and a 5" to 5 1/2" square interior floor space. The eastern bluebird will also readily nest in the houses suited to the western and mountain bluebird.
Once you have obtained the correctly sized house, place it in a bluebird-friendly location to entice them to use it. Bluebirds nest in open areas, such as meadows and fields, at least 100' away from trees and shrubs. A 4' to 5' tall metal pole is a perfect mount for the home. Add a natural perch, such as a limb in the ground, near the home so the birds may survey the site prior to nesting. This perch will also help fledglings when they first learn to fly. To create a bluebird trail, place nest boxes approximately 300' apart along an open stretch of land. Many landowners place their bluebird houses along long fence lines as the posts offer great mounting options and the fences serve as ideal perching sites.
Bluebird populations suffered in the mid twentieth century, not only due to habitat loss, but also due to increased predation and competition for nesting sites. Protecting your bluebird homes from these unwanted visitors helps the birds thrive. Add a stovepipe or baffle style predator guard around the pole to prevent cats, raccoons, and squirrels from reaching the home. Also, ensure the house does not have a perch on the front, as this welcomes competitors such as house sparrows and swallows. Placing a hole protector around the entrance keeps woodpeckers and squirrels from enlarging the opening, and can also keep other animals from reaching into the nest.
Monitoring your bluebird box frequently helps ensure that only bluebirds are using the nests, and easily alerts you to possible predation. Nests should be checked at least weekly, but no more than once per day until the nestlings are 12 to 14 days old. Carefully inspect the shape and materials of the nest, making sure it is not a house sparrow nest, and remove it if it is from this invasive species. Check beneath the nest for blowfly larvae as they can infest the nest and injure or even kill the bluebird nestlings. Keeping records of the clutch and nestlings allows you to time nest checks more appropriately in following seasons.
Offering homes to bluebirds on your property will help ensure the survival of these species, preserving their aerial displays and lovely songs for future generations. Providing correctly sized nest boxes and placing them well helps attract the birds to your property, while using predator guards and monitoring the homes allows the population to thrive. BestNest carries a wide selection of bluebird houses, predator guards, and accessories for all your bluebird needs.