If you want bluebirds to nest in your bluebird houses, keep reading.
Bluebirds are cavity nesters and require a specific type of housing to feel secure and make it their home. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to choose the right bluebird house, install it, and surround it with the right elements to set the stage for attracting bluebirds.
Here’s how to attract bluebirds to a bluebird house:
- Choosing the right bluebird house and proper installation site is crucial for attracting these colorful cavity nesters
- Providing food, water, and shelter creates a bluebird-friendly habitat where they can thrive in your yard
- Monitoring and ongoing care will ensure the health and nesting success of your backyard bluebird population
Bluebird Species Overview
Bluebirds are beautiful songbirds that can add life and color to your yard. There are three main species of bluebirds found in North America:
- Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis): Commonly found in the eastern United States, these birds have a bright blue back, rusty red throat, and white belly.
- Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana): Found primarily in the western United States, these birds have a deep blue back, rusty red throat, and grayish-blue belly.
- Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides): Found in the mountainous regions of western North America, these birds have a more uniform, pale blue color with little to no red on their bodies.
Read Next: How to Attract Eastern Bluebirds
How to Attract Bluebirds to a Bluebird House
Attracting bluebirds to bluebird houses can be boiled down to 5 basic steps.
Here’s what you should do if you want bluebirds to call your bird houses home:
- Get the right bluebird houses with the proper dimensions and ability to accommodate them all year round, including in the winter for those bluebirds that don’t migrate south.
- Set up your bluebird houses in an ideal location, away from treelines and winds, and in open spaces with short grass or meadows. This is the right type of landscape where bluebirds feel safe and like to hunt insects.
- Provide food and water for bluebirds near bluebird houses. No food, no bluebirds in your birdhouses.
- Keep the environment safe for bluebirds. This includes keeping predators and other bird species that compete for their nesting spaces away.
- Keep bluebird houses clean. Clean them out after a brood vacates the nest, and not before.
For the rest of this article, we’ll be diving into these aspects of inviting bluebirds to your bluebird houses in detail, starting with selecting the best bluebird house type.
Choose the Right Bluebird House
When it comes to attracting bluebirds to your backyard, selecting the right bluebird house is crucial.
Bluebirds are cavity-nesting birds, which means they nest inside holes found in trees, fence posts, or other structures. But in the absence of natural cavities, they will readily use man-made birdhouses with the correct dimensions.
In this section, we’ll discuss the important factors to consider, such as size and design, entrance hole diameter, and more.
- A well-designed bluebird house, also known as a nest box, should be spacious enough to accommodate the needs of the bluebirds without being too large.
- The interior floor size should be approximately 5×5 inches, and the overall height should be around 8-12 inches.
- When selecting a birdhouse for bluebirds, opt for one made from a durable, weather-resistant material such as cedar or pine. This will help ensure the house lasts through various weather conditions.
- Additionally, a sloping roof and a small overhang above the entrance hole can provide further protection from rain, snow, and predators.
- It’s also very important to choose a box with proper ventilation and drainage to keep the nest dry and comfortable for the birds.
Entrance Hole Diameter
- The diameter of the entrance hole plays a crucial role in attracting bluebirds to a nest box.
- The ideal hole size should be 1.5 inches, which allows bluebirds to enter the house while preventing larger, more aggressive species from accessing the nest. This helps keep bluebirds safe and secure while they breed and raise their young.
By following these guidelines and tailoring the nest box to cater to bluebirds’ specific needs, you can significantly increase your chances of attracting these sweet songbirds to your backyard sanctuary.
Tips for Installing the Bluebird House
Choose the Right Location
If you want to attract bluebirds successfully, it’s important to choose the right location for installing your bluebird house.
- Opt for an open area in your backyard, away from heavily wooded or brushy areas. This helps them easily access the birdhouses, deter predators, and reduce competition from other bird species.
- Place the nest box 4-6 feet (or at least five feet) above the ground. And also, preferably facing away from prevailing winds.
- Maintain short grass around the bluebird house for bluebirds to easily spot and hunt for insects, their primary food.
- Provide perches near bluebird houses like garden stakes, trellises, or fence posts near the bluebird houses to give them a hunting advantage they won’t want to pass up.
- Ideally, the house should be placed at least 50 feet away from treelines and not too close to buildings. Bluebirds can be timid and like their privacy.
- Ensure that the selected spot receives ample sunlight for the nest box.
- For nesting supplies, bluebirds prefer natural materials such as pine needles. You can gather some pine needles or cotton scraps and place them nearby to pique their interest in your bluebird house.
Plants and Shelter Sources
- Creating the optimal landscape and habitat will attract and maintain bluebirds in your yard. This means planting berry-producing plants like blueberry bushes or serviceberry trees, as berries can supplement their diet, particularly if you’re trying to attract bluebirds in winter.
- Other good spots to place bluebird houses near are areas with trees and shrubs like junipers, dogwoods, sumacs, hollies, serviceberries, and elderberries. These types of plants provide shelter and natural food sources for bluebirds and their young.
- In general, it’s a good idea to plant a garden full of flowers, shrubs, and plants that attract insects. This will create a natural feeding ground for bluebirds and draw them to your birdhouses.
Read Also: Plants That Attract Bluebirds
- When it comes to mounting your bluebird house, there are various methods you can use to securely attach it to a post or pole. One popular option is to use a 3/4-inch piece of electrical conduit driven into the ground.
- Attach the house 5 feet above the ground using conduit straps to keep it at a safe height for bluebirds.
- Additionally, consider installing a predator guard to deter nest raiders.
- You can also mount your bluebird house on fence posts, but make sure there is enough open space around it for bluebirds to fly in and out comfortably.
- Regardless of the mounting option you choose, ensure that the house is stable and well-secured.
Providing Food and Water for Bluebirds
Bluebirds primarily feast on insects, snails, worms, and other invertebrates during warmer months. To further entice bluebirds, consider adding a bluebird feeder filled with their favorite treats near your bluebird houses.
- Mealworms (live especially, but dried mealworms also work)
- Berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
- Peanut butter
- Cornmeal muffins
Having these foods at the ready in bird feeders in addition to berry bushes around the area will keep bluebirds well fed and thriving in your backyard.
Read Also: How to Attract Bluebirds to Bird Feeders
Bluebirds, like all birds, need a source of clean water.
- Installing a bird bath will not only provide them with a space to drink but also encourage them to preen and bathe.
- Change the water frequently to prevent algae buildup and keep it fresh for your feathered friends.
- If you want bluebirds to nest in your bluebird houses over the winter, make sure to keep the water from freezing, which you can do with a heated birdbath.
Keep Bluebirds Safe and Healthy
Providing a safe environment for bluebirds is crucial to ensure their success in your backyard.
- One part of this is installing a nest box with an entrance hole suitable for bluebirds, keeping out larger, invasive bird species.
- Keep in mind that bluebirds can be sensitive to pesticides and chemicals. Therefore, try to limit the use of these in your yard to create a healthy environment for them.
- Again, in the winter, frozen water is a problem for bluebirds. So make sure water sources are always available for them, and change the water regularly to prevent algae from forming and mosquitoes from breeding.
Predator and Competitor Control
- Predators and competitors can threaten the safety and success of your bluebird habitat. Common predators include cats, snakes, and invasive species like house sparrows, starlings, and wrens.
- To deter predators, place your birdhouses 4-7 feet above the ground, and consider installing perches and bird feeders at a safe distance from the birdhouses^[2^].
- If you own a cat, keep it inside, particularly during nesting season. If you can’t control a neighborhood cat’s movements, you can at least make sure the bluebird houses are well out in the open and surrounded by short grass where cats can’t hide.
- For predators like raccoons, buy a raccoon baffle that can deter them from climbing the pole, or buy predator guards so that other animals can’t reach into the nest.
- For competitor control, monitor the area around your birdhouses and remove nests of house sparrows or wrens that may try to usurp the nesting sites meant for bluebirds.
- Additionally, ensure that nearby dead trees or other potential nesting sites are removed to prevent them from becoming homes for invasive species.
- Keep other bird feeders away from bluebird feeders and habitats. This will reduce incidents of other bird species becoming attracted to bluebird nesting sites and taking over.
Cleaning the Bluebird Houses
- Bluebirds may raise multiple broods during the breeding season, and cleaning the birdhouse after each brood leaves can encourage additional nesting.
- In colder climates, bluebirds may migrate south for the winter. However, some will remain in their breeding range year-round, especially in milder areas where food is still available. So cleanliness remains important all year round.
- Regularly clean and monitor the nest box to discourage house sparrows and other invasive occupants that may harm bluebirds and their brood.
Bluebird Monitoring and Nesting Success
Bluebirds are known to be tolerant of humans and can benefit from our assistance in monitoring their nests.
- To help these birds thrive, it’s crucial to regularly check their nest boxes at least once a week without disturbing their nesting process. Monitoring ensures the health and safety of the bluebirds and may help increase the success of their breeding efforts.
- During your nest box checks, be on the lookout for potential problems like predators, insects, and nesting materials that bluebirds may not typically use.
- Proper nest box maintenance also plays a key role in promoting bluebird conservation. It includes providing clean water nearby, adding predator guards, and pruning any overgrown vegetation around the nest box.
Hatching and Fledgling Support
Once the bluebird eggs have hatched, it’s crucial to provide continued support for the parents and the fledglings. To encourage their success, follow these recommendations:
- Food Source: A bluebird’s diet consists mostly of insects, making up around 2/3 of their food intake, with berries contributing the remaining 1/3. Providing a birdbath with a solar-powered water fountain can offer a reliable water source and attract insects, making it easier for bluebirds to find food.
- Nesting Materials: Even though bluebirds usually collect their nesting material, you can help by providing suitable materials like grasses, straw, and small twigs. However, avoid using materials like dryer lint as it can be harmful to their health.
- Clean Water: Bluebirds, like all birds, need access to clean water for drinking and bathing. Ensure that fresh water is available nearby in a shallow dish or birdbath.
- Predator Guards: Protect bluebird families by installing guards around the nest box, preventing predators like raccoons and snakes from reaching the nesting birds.
- Pruning: To keep the area around the nest box safe and accessible, prune any overgrown vegetation that may obstruct the bluebirds’ view and flight path, making sure they have enough space to fly in and out easily.
- Low Perches: Bluebirds are known to use low perches while hunting for insects. Providing a natural perch nearby, like a small tree or shrub, can encourage bluebird families to stay and nest in your bluebird house.
By properly monitoring bluebird nests and providing optimal conditions for hatching and fledgling support, you can contribute significantly to the conservation and success of bluebird populations in your area.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of nesting materials should be provided?
Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters and build their nests in natural holes found in trees. They typically use fine grasses, pine needles, and sometimes even feathers or moss for their nests.
However, it’s best not to provide any nesting materials inside the bluebird house, as they prefer to collect them on their own.
Which bird feed should be offered to bluebirds?
Bluebirds primarily feed on insects, worms, snails, and other invertebrates during the warmer months. They are not attracted to common feeder foods like peanuts or Nyjer seeds.
If you want to attract bluebirds to your yard, try offering them mealworms and bits of fruit, such as berries, as these are much more appealing to bluebirds.
Are there specific plants to grow near the birdhouse?
Growing native plants near the birdhouse can be helpful in attracting bluebirds. Native plants offer natural shelter and attract insects, which serve as a food source for bluebirds.
As bluebirds prefer open spaces with low grass and perches, consider planting native trees and shrubs in your yard that will offer the perfect habitat for them.
What is the ideal height to mount the bluebird house?
Mounting the bluebird house at an appropriate height is absolutely critical for their safety.
The ideal height for a bluebird house is between 4 to 6 feet off the ground. This will protect the birds from potential predators while keeping it accessible for cleaning and monitoring purposes.
Where should the birdhouse entrance hole face?
The entrance hole of the bluebird house should face away from prevailing winds and direct sunlight. It is best to have the hole face either east or southeast to provide a comfortable environment for the birds.
The proper positioning of the birdhouse entrance hole will help attract bluebirds and provide shelter during extreme weather conditions.
Should I include a perch on the bluebird house?
It is not necessary to include a perch on the bluebird house. In fact, doing so could inadvertently attract predators or other, unwanted birds.
Bluebirds are already skilled at gripping the entrance hole without needing a perch, so it is best to keep the bluebird house simple and without additional features that may cause harm to the birds.