Bluebirds have battled back from the brink of extinction over the last two decades and the primary reason for their uptick in population has been the assistance of humans in the nesting process. Their decline was caused by the introduction of the house sparrow in 1851, which was brought from Europe to gobble up pests. Instead, the house sparrow became a nuisance itself, raiding bluebird nests and killing young bluebirds.
In the 70s and 80s, conservation groups such as the North American Bluebird Society began programs to encourage bird lovers to construct nest boxes for bluebirds. The result was a the revitalization of the bluebird species. Today, attracting bluebirds to a nest is a delicate process that involves not only creating a welcoming habitat for bluebirds, but also vigilantly monitoring their progress. Here are some tips.
Finding the right location
Locale is key when it comes to placing a bluebird box. For the eastern bluebird, open spaces and meadows with mowed grass are ideal. Bluebirds are ground feeders and they need to be able to scan a large space of land for food. They also need perches, which is why yards near fences, trees or utility lines also work well.
Mountain and western bluebirds gravitate toward similar habitats as eastern bluebirds. They like open land with scattered pine or juniper trees.
Scanning for threatening birds
There's no question about it, the house sparrow is the arch-enemy of the bluebird. Not only will it usurp its nest, but it will also attack bluebird nestlings and sometimes even puncture eggs. If there is a large congregation of house sparrows in your yard, your best bet is to not place a bluebird nest box there.
Even if you just have a few house sparrows hanging around, make sure to place your nesting box at least 50 feet away from houses, buildings or other structures where house sparrows like to hang out.
House wrens are another enemy of the bluebird. They are attracted to brush and hedges, so make sure you put your bluebird nesting box away from vegetation.
Where and when should you place your bluebird nest box?
The number one guideline of bluebird nest box placement is to place it in an area with short grass, which is where bluebirds like to feed. If you live in a cooler climate, you may want to place your nest box in the sun, while those in warmer climates should find a shady spot for their nest box.
The typical height of bluebird nest boxes is 5 to 6 feet. However, if there are cats in your area, you should mount your box 7 feet above the ground to prevent them from invading your box. Use baffles to prevent other pests like squirrels and raccoons from attacking your bluebird nest boxes.
Bluebirds love running water, so a bird bath is always an asset when trying to lure them to your yard. Also, trees and bushes that provide berries are another attraction for bluebirds, who often eat fruit during the winter.
Ready to purchase a bluebird nesting box? Check out our bluebird house collection. Want to learn more about bluebirds? Check out the other articles below.