Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


Bluebird Nest Boxes

How do you beckon bluebirds to your backyard? Build it, and they will come.

By Erica H. Brasseux

With their vibrant color and harmonious melodies, eastern bluebirds are a delight to the eye and ear. But these birds have experienced a precipitous population decline in the last half-century - as much as 90 percent, according to some experts. You can help eastern bluebirds thrive - and bring these beautiful birds a little closer to your home -- by building a bluebird nesting box for your yard.

1. Cut the 4-foot board as shown in Figure 1. Start by cutting the board at the floor end, since the dimensions for the back are less critical. (Note: Don't use pressure-treated lumber or wood preservatives. Linseed oil is a preservative and stain that's safe for bluebirds.)

2. Create an entrance hole in the front piece by drilling two 1 ½" holes and chiseling out the sides to form an oval (see Figure 2). Below the entrance hole inside and out, scratch horizontal lines in the wood with a nail to give the birds climbing traction.

3. Put the nest box together as shown in Figure 3. Use pivot screws at the top of one side to make it easy to open the nest box for cleaning and monitoring.

4. Drill small holes in the top, sides or back of the box to provide adequate ventilation. Drill drainage holes in the floor for drainage.

Mount the nesting box 5 to 10 feet off the ground, away from heavy human traffic and areas that have been sprayed with insecticide. Point the entrance away from the hot afternoon sun and prevailing winds.

Once you've mounted the box, you must install effective predator guards to deter invasions by cats, snakes, raccoons and fire ants. For more information on predator guards, go to the North American Bluebird Society Web site: www.nabluebirdsociety.com.

For step-by-step instructions and diagrams on building an eastern bluebird nesting box, request a copy of Bluebirds in Texas from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Endangered Species Branch, 3000 S. IH-35, Suite 100, Austin, TX 78704, (512) 912-7011. A $1 donation is appreciated. This 42-page pamphlet also contains contact information for bluebird societies, bluebird house manufacturers and mail-order catalogs.

Once your nest box is installed, you'll need to monitor it at least once a week during the nesting season and remove house sparrow nests. Although the maintenance of a bluebird nesting box takes time and effort, you'll see the reward when the bluebird of happiness arrives at your door.

Materials List:

  • One 1" x 6" x 4' board (actual size ¾" x 5½")
  • One 1" x 10" x 10½" board (for roof) (actual size ¾" x 9¼")
  • Hole cutter 1½" diameter
  • 1¾" galvanized nails (about 20)
  • 1¾" galvanized screws (2, for pivot point)
  • Double-headed nail for holding door closed (1)

Note: One 6'1" x 6" board makes two boxes.

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