What Color Should a Bluebird House Be? (+ Crucial Nest Box Tips)

You might not think so, but choosing the right color for a bluebird house can make a huge difference in how well-protected they are, should they choose to nest there.

It goes beyond bluebirds’ preferences, which means if you’re asking what color to pick for your bluebird house, you’re in the right place.

Here’s the short answer:

  • Choose pale or neutral colors like light blue or gray for bluebird houses
  • Or, leave a bluebird house its natural wood color
  • Avoid colors that are too dark or too bright for safety reasons

Without further ado, let’s jump into the full explanation for which colors to choose for bluebird houses, and which ones to avoid.

What Color Should a Bluebird House Be?

bluebird flying in front of a nest box

Most people are familiar with at least one type of bluebird, whether it be the Eastern Bluebird, Western Bluebird, or Mountain Bluebird of the Rocky Mountains.

All three bluebirds have specific nesting requirements, and if you want them around your home, it’s important to be mindful of these needs—including the color of their nesting boxes.

This will create a more inviting home for the bluebirds, encouraging them to nest, lay eggs, and raise their young successfully.

Read Next: Plants That Attract Bluebirds

Go Paint-Free

In general, bluebirds prefer natural tones.

That means that one of the best options is to leave a wooden bluebird house unpainted, and let its natural color attract the bluebirds.

It will blend in nicely with its surroundings, making bluebirds feel safe, secure, and well-hidden in their nests.

Plus, a natural wood bird house fits well aesthetically with practically any backyard design.

Natural Colors

Since bluebirds are naturally attracted to trees and bushes, shades of brown and green are good for bluebird houses, too.

These summery and earthy tones imitate nature, enhancing the house’s effectiveness in attracting bluebirds.

Lighter Shades

If you want to paint or stain your bluebird house, you can also go for light colors like gray or brownish-gray.

These hues also mimic the shades found in nature, and they help keep the nest box cool in hot weather.

If you prefer something different, you could also opt for a pale blue, keeping in mind that closest to natural is best.

Be mindful that the interior of the birdhouse and the edges of the entrance hole are left unfinished, though, as it’s healthier for the birds and their nests.

Why You Should Avoid Bright or Dark Colors for Bluebird Houses

collection of colorful bird houses with a red x over them

Colors you definitely want to avoid for a bluebird house are:

  • Dark colors
  • Bright shades
  • White

Dark shades tend to absorb more heat, making the house uncomfortable and potentially harmful to the nesting birds, as temperatures can rise excessively during the spring and summer months.

Light colors, on the other hand, reflect heat better, maintaining a more comfortable temperature for the bluebirds.

As for bright colors, these might attract other types of birds that might take over the bluebird nests. So bright or bold shades like sunny yellow, red, or a bright turquoise you can easily spot from far away are not good choices.

Similarly, white is considered too obvious, so bluebirds might pass white bird houses up.

Should You Paint the Inside of a Bluebird House? 

No, you should not paint the inside of the bluebird house.

The biggest reason being that paints can have chemicals that give off fumes, which could potentially harm the birds.

Not to mention, if a bird house has a lingering paint smell trapped inside of it, it might deter the birds.

How to Choose a Bluebird House

bluebird sitting outside of a bird house

If you’re in the market for a bluebird abode, here are some considerations to select the best option.


Suitable materials for a safe birdhouse include wood types like cedar, pine, redwood, fir, and cypress woods.

In particular, cedar is an excellent choice for bluebird houses. It’s both decay and insect-resistant, making your bluebird houses durable and long-lasting.

Likewise, fir and cypress offer longevity and lack toxic elements that could harm the bluebirds.

Tip: Natural wood is preferable over artificial materials like recycled plastic and PVC. Though these materials might be more resistant to the elements, they don’t provide the same level of insulation and comfort for the birds.

Not only this, but PVC could also release harmful chemicals when exposed to sunlight and extreme temperatures.


Look for weatherproofing in bluebird house designs to keep the birds and their nestlings warm, comfortable, and safe from the elements.

Good designs include bluebird nest boxes made with sloping roofs and upward-angled vent holes that keep out rainwater.

If you can find one with a double-thick roof, this will also help to reduce overheating inside the bluebird house.

Interestingly, oval entrance holes work particularly well for bluebird houses, and serve as deterrents to sparrows that would be keen to take over the bluebird nesting sites.


Here’s a quick overview of the dimensions for a bluebird house:

  • Entrance hole diameter: 1.5 inches (eastern species) or 1-9/16 inches (universal)
  • Entrance height: 5-6 inches above the interior floor space
  • Interior floor space: 4.5×4.5 inches
  • Wall height: 10-12 inches

You want enough space for the bluebird parents and nestlings, and a small enough entrance hole to keep predators out.

A good rule of thumb for a bluebird entrance hole is 1.5 inches for eastern bluebirds, while western and mountain bluebirds prefer a slightly larger hole size of 1-9/16 inches.

This larger hole size works universally for all three species, so go with that if you’re not certain which species you’ll attract.

Ideally, the bottom of the entrance hole should be about 5-6 inches above the floor of the nest box on the inside.

For the base of the floor, it should measure 4.5×4.5 inches. This provides enough interior floor space for the birds to live comfortably and raise their young.

As for the walls, try 10-12 inches in height, with 10 inches at the front of the bluebird house where the entrance hole is and 12 inches toward the back to accommodate a sloped roof.

Bluebird House Location Tips

Bluebirds prefer locations that are pretty wide open with a good view of the surroundings to hunt for food and spy predators.

One of the best locations for a bluebird house is in open grasslands where there is plenty of sunlight and short grass for the bluebirds to catch insects.

These areas should have minimal shade and be free of nearby houses or buildings. These conditions limit human interference and can lower the chances of house sparrows or others invading the bluebird’s space.

Ensure that the house is placed relatively distant from areas with extensive undergrowth or dense brush, as these areas could potentially harbor predators or competing birds.

Also important is to avoid placing the bluebird house too close to brushy or wooded areas. Keep it a minimum of 50 feet away from these types of areas to deter predators.

Here’s a great video on installing a bluebird house from a wildlife biologist:

Do Bluebird Houses Go on Trees or Posts?


Don’t mount bluebird houses to trees, as there are plenty of predators from snakes to raccoons and beyond that can climb up and access the nests, the eggs, and the nestlings.

During installation, ensure the bluebird house is mounted securely to the post or pole. This can be done using screws, brackets, or other hardware that is suitable for the type of post or pole you are using.

Also, make certain that the birdhouse is stable and won’t sway or move easily due to wind or other disturbances.

How High Should a Bluebird House Be?

You’ll want to mount the bluebird house on a post or pole so that the birdhouse is about 4-6 feet off the ground.

It’s recommended to mount the nest box at least five feet off the ground, though this can vary and go higher depending on the habitat.

What Direction Do You Face a Bluebird House?

Typically, bluebirds will take up residence in a nest box that’s facing east.

Be sure to position the opening of the birdhouse facing away from prevailing winds to prevent rain from entering.

Should Bluebird Houses Be in Sun or Shade?

A sunny location is ideal.

That is, opt for a place that gets plenty of sun, but also keep in mind some source of shade at some point in the day, like a tree or two somewhere in the area.

There should be enough sun to keep the nest box warm and comfy, but also shade options.

What Time of Year Should I Put Out My Bluebird House?

Late winter to early spring is an ideal time to set up your bluebird houses, around February to March.

This is when the birds will be looking for places to nest, or close to it.

However, you can put up bluebird houses later in the nesting season as well, in case you miss it in the early spring.

Protecting Bluebird Houses and Nests

red squirrel on top of a bird house

Consider adding some protective measures to the bluebird house to deter predators and unwanted nest guests.

For instance, you can install wooden guards that obstruct the entrance hole or hang reflective strips near the house to discourage sparrows.

Another method of protection is a stovepipe baffle around the pole that supports the bluebird house. An 8-inch x 24-inch stovepipe should do the trick, but even a longer one (around 5 feet) will further enhance the protection level.

Also, remember not to mount bluebird houses on trees so as to reduce the possibility of critters scrambling up the trees and into the nests.

Once your bluebird house is installed securely, observe and monitor it for any signs of activity. Check for any signs of damage or intrusion from predators.

Clean out old nesting materials after the bluebirds have finished their breeding season and make any necessary repairs to the house before the next season arrives.

If you want to double-check the safety of your bluebird house selection, we recommend referencing the North American Bluebird Society’s nest box requirement data sheets.

How Do I Attract Bluebirds to My Bluebird House?

Beyond selecting the right bluebird house design and color and correctly installing and maintaining it, you can attract bluebirds to the nesting sites you’ve set up for them by:

  • Providing a mix of grasses and native plants in your yard. Bluebirds are native species that thrive in areas with plenty of natural foraging opportunities.
  • Maintaining a healthy habitat around the bluebird house.
  • Providing a water source, such as a birdbath.
  • Hanging a bird feeder filled with mealworms. You can also provide some sunflower chips, particularly in the winter.

Read Also: How to Attract Bluebirds to a Bluebird House

Design Elements to Avoid in Bluebird Houses

When it comes to building a home for bluebirds, there are a few design elements that you should avoid in order to create a safe and welcoming environment for these beautiful birds.

  • Avoid adding perches to your bluebird house. Perches are not necessary for bluebirds and can actually be harmful, as they provide an easy access point for predators. Instead, opt for a simple design with smooth outer walls that make it more difficult for unwanted visitors to approach the house.
  • No PVC or major plastic birdhouse elements. These can heat up in the sun and release toxins that can harm the birds.
  • Avoid using chemical-treated woods, too. These pose potential dangers to bluebirds’ health.
  • Steer clear of complicated or overly decorative styles. Bluebirds prefer a more straightforward design that resembles their natural nesting cavities.
  • Bright colors, dark colors, and white.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best paint for bluebird house

If you want to paint a bluebird house, use non-toxic paints.

Also, choose colors that are natural and blend in with the surroundings. Bright colors can attract other birds and predators, which may be harmful to bluebirds.

Opt for neutral browns, greens, or grays.

Should I stain a bluebird house?

You don’t have to, but staining a bluebird house may help keep moisture out, and thus help it last longer.

However, it’s crucial to use a non-toxic stain to ensure the safety of the bluebirds residing in the house.

Best materials for a bluebird house

Bluebird houses should be made using durable, weather-resistant materials like cedar or redwood.

These materials can withstand harsh conditions and resist decay, ensuring the house remains a safe and suitable habitat for the bluebirds.

What features do bluebirds prefer in a house?

Some key features that make a bluebird house attractive to bluebirds are the correct dimensions, including an entrance hole of about 1.5 inches, proper ventilation, and a design that looks as close to natural as possible.

Additionally, the house should have some form of predator protection to keep the bluebirds safe.

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