Bluebird Houses Box Attracting Backyard Bluebirds
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Bird houses made especially for bluebirds. Providing nesting boxes is one of the surest ways to attract bluebirds to your garden. While they may not be interested in seed offered at feeders, they need cavity nesting sites. Bluebirds are cavity nesters which use abandoned woodpecker holes and natural cavities in trees and posts so placing a bluebird box in a garden or yard can be successful and helps them find a home. They easily nest in man made boxes and bird houses if it is of the appropriate size and careful placement in the right location. Forested habitats have been destroyed in recent years, leaving the bluebirds with few places to nest.
Bluebird House Care placement
In North America, there are three species of bluebirds:
Eastern Bluebirds - found in the eastern half of the the continent as well as down into Mexico
Western Bluebirds - Widespread in the western half of the U.S., southwestern Canada, and into Mexico
Mountain Bluebirds High prairies, mountain areas of the western half of North America from Alaska through Mexico
The Eastern Bluebird is one of the smaller members of the thrush species. The male has a blue back, a rusty red breast, with a white lower belly. The female is similar in color, but her colors are not as brilliant as the male. Young and immature birds have a speckled breast with no red and they are mostly gray in appearance. The range of the Eastern Bluebird is east of the Rockies from southern Canada to the Gulf States. Their relatives, the Western Bluebird and Mountain Bluebird, are not found east of the Mississippi River. Most Eastern Bluebirds migrate into the southern area of their range during winter.
Bluebirds eat chiefly insects but will eat fruits and berries, particularly in wintertime. They will visit to a bird feeder to feed on suet and meal worms, and will readily use a birdbath. Bluebirds are frequent visitors to our own birdbaths, even though out yard is not optimum for setting up nesting sites for them!
In the 1950's birdwatchers and ornithologists began to notice a decline in the amount of Eastern Bluebirds. The decline has commonly been ascribed to a loss of suitable nesting habitat and places, use of pesticides, and competition from other, more aggressive, cavity nesting species such as imported House Sparrows and Starlings.The decline in the population of these beautiful birds caused alarm in many people. In late years a bluebird recovery has started. This has been attributed to management programs executed by organizations and individuals through out the eastern states. Bluebird houses, have been built and erected throughout the continent. Bluebirds have happily adopted these new homes, many of which are along bluebird trails, on golf courses and wildlife areas. The numbers of bluebirds being reported are once again on the increase. The most successful management formula has been offering bluebirds houses for nesting.
bluebird house placement
The placement of the house is important, so take a good look at the location you choose! Bluebirds favor open grassy expanses with adequate trees or wires to allow for perches. Pastures, open woods, and orchards make effective locations. A golf course is a good illustration of the perfect bluebird habitat, but thankfully you aren't required to have a gold course sized yard to make bluebirds happy. Just an expanse of grass and nearby perches so the bluebirds may perch and swoop down into the grass to catch insects for food. Avoid dense woods, large open areas with no trees, or open areas with very tall grass. Bluebird boxes may be placed 100-200 feet apart if you are putting up multiple homes. Bluebirds are territorial and will generally not allow another pair to nest nearby.
Try facing the house away from the weather - that is, away from the direction the rain normally comes from to avoid water getting in the box during storms. It is important to face the house towards a tree, shrub, or fence so the baby birds will have perch to land on when they take their first flight. If the house is facing the direction of a large area of lawn or open field they will likely wind up on the ground as their first flight is normally fairly short.
The house can be mounted to a tree or post, 4 to 15 feet above the ground. We have found the best height to be 5 feet from the ground. Bluebirds will readily accept this level, and it is easier for you to access to check on the nest or clean, with no ladder required. We also prefer to post mount boxes as they do not appear to attract as many roaches, ants, rats, and other undesirables as a house which has been mounted on a tree. A post mounted is simple to attach a predator guard to and allows you to locate the house where you want it as opposed to being limited to a spot where a tree happens to be.
A proper management program will help insure that the bluebirds using your houses will be successful in raising their families. Understanding the breeding cycle of the bluebird is essential to planning your management activities.
Nest Cavity Search - Parents hunting for a proper nesting site may begin as early as February in the deep south. The search will start later in the northern states. The duration of time it calls for for parents to find a site will rely on the availability of tree cavities or bird houses. The nest cavity could be found on the first day of the search or it may call for up to 60 days for a appropriate location. At this phase of the nesting period the male and female birds can be observed near the house periodically during the day. When a desirable nest cavity is discovered, the male claims the territory.
Nest Building - It takes from 5-14 days for the birds to finish the nest. The female does the majority of the work. The male chooses to perch in a close tree and sing. Grass and straw are the favorite nest material. If you check on a bird box and find moss, fur, or sticks and leaves inside, the nest is likely being assembled by one of the other small, cavity nesting species such as Chickadee, Titmouse, Wren, Nuthatch.
Egg Laying - Egg laying takes from 3 to 6 days. One light blue egg is laid daily until the clutch is finished. The average clutch size is 5 eggs, but 3, 4, or 6 eggs is not uncommon. 2 or 7 eggs in a clutch is rare.
Incubation - The female incubates the eggs for 13 or 14 days. She begins incubating on the day she finishes the clutch. As a result, the eggs will all hatch on the same day.
Nestling Stage - The baby bluebirds will stay in the nest for around 15 days. They will be brooded by an adult bird every night, and on cool days until they are completely feathered. During the nestling period the babies will be fed by both parent birds. They do not leave the house during this period. All droppings are moved out the house until the day the young birds fledge. Once the young birds fledge they do not go back to the nest.
Fledgling Stage - At the close of the nestling time period, the young birds fly from the nest. They will be fed by both parent birds for an additional 7 to 14 days. During this time they can be observed neat the nesting house. Soon afterwards the nesting cycle has been finished the parent birds will begin the cycle again. Parent birds can raise as many as 3 broods in a single season.
Managing Bluebird Boxes
Keeping an Eye on The House - You may open the house to check the nest once or twice a week without disturbing the birds. Frequent house on the nesting site you to be aware of any problems quickly.
Cleaning The House - Clean the house in the winter time before and then again after the nesting season has ended. Also clean out the box after each brood has left the nest. Bluebirds construct a new nest for each brood. They are more likely to reuse the box if they have an empty cavity to build in. Some of the times parent birds will reject a house if it has an old nest inside, even if it is a nest they built. When they use a house with a used or abandoned nest in it, they make a new nest right on top of the old one.
Insect Predator Control - These methods are used only when problems occur!!
Ants crawling up bluebird house poles may be controlled by greasing the mounting pole or using Tree Tanglefoot to the tree or pole. Please use common sense if you try this! Firstly, grease only requires a small ring, you do not need to grease the entire pole. Automotive grease can be lethal to wildlife and petroleum jelly spoils and rots. Vegetable oil is worse. Grease is very bad for bird feathers! Grease only the bottom of the pole in a small ring and please use a product designed for the job. Insects such as wasps can be removed physically, or controlled with pyrethrum spray or powder. If parasites are a problem, apply 1 teaspoon of 1% rotenone during the first few days of incubation. Do not use rotenone after the eggs have hatched. Baffle your poles. Snakes, raccoon, house cat, or other predator can get to the eggs or baby birds. A metal baffle or some other type of barrier can be placed on a tree or pole to discourage predators from climbing to the box. House Sparrow eggs, nests and young should be cleaned out of the house. House Sparrow eggs are slate-gray with dark blotches. Allow Chickadees, Titmice, and other species to raise their young.