Bringing In Bluebirds

Bringing in Bluebirds

Monday, March 24, 2003

Paul Schnare

If your landscape provides good habitat for bluebirds, you can attract them if you provide them with a nest box and food. Here is what you need to know to become a bluebird landlord.

Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters. They cannot make their own cavity in a dead tree or post, but must depend upon other birds to make these cavities. You can provide “cavities” to nest in by placing bluebird nest boxes in your landscape.

The nest box should have a floor that is about 4 ½” to 5 ½” square. The entrance hole should be about 1 ½” in diameter, and should be located about 8” above the floor. It should have a slanted roof, and ventilation holes. The box should have no perch below the entrance hole. In addition, the box should have provisions for opening so that you, the landlord, can clean house when needed.

Place the nest box on a post or pole about 5’ to 6’ high, facing southeast. This positions the entrance hole on the lee side of prevailing winds. Therefore birds keep warmer and drier.

Locate the box at lest 50’ to 100’ away from trees and tall shrubs. Blue birds like open spaces such as meadows, pastures, cemeteries, golf courses, and large lawns. Multiple boxes should be kept at least 100 yards away from each other.

You should place a predator guard on the mounting pole in order to protect bluebirds from marauding raccoons and snakes. Be sure to keep house sparrows and starlings out of nest boxes.

In order to increase your chances of getting bluebirds to move into the neighborhood, place a bluebird feeder near the nest box. A bluebird’s diet consists of 60% insects and 40% seeds. They prefer insects during the spring and summer.

A bluebird feeder is designed with a hole in the side so that the bluebird can go into the feeder and find meal worms. Mealworms can be purchased at a local store that specializes in birding stuff. This special feeder is used so that other birds, that also like mealworms, will be discouraged from feeding on them.

“Train’ bluebirds to use the feeder by placing mealworms on top of the feeder, inside the feeder, and on the ground below the feeder. After you see that your bluebirds are “trained” to use the feeder, quit placing mealworms on and below the feeder.

Placing both a bluebird nest box and a bluebird feeder in your landscape should encourage bluebirds to move into the neighborhood. If you are not successful at first don't give up. Bluebirds need our help to survive.