Bring Bluebirds to your Backyard

There are three different species of Bluebirds. The Eastern Bluebirds reside mostly in places on the east coast and spreading to the west, the Western Bluebirds reside on the west coast and down into Mexico, and the Mountain Bluebirds reside around the Rocky Mountain range.

No matter what region these birds are in, they are all looking for wood cavities or woodpecker holes to make their nests. These natural tree cavities are becoming harder for bluebirds to find, as old rotting trees are being torn down. Putting a birdhouse in your backyard can give these birds a place to nest, and give you a beautiful sight.

Giving Bluebirds a place to nest can help increase the population. Below is step by step instructions for building your own Bluebird birdhouse. Learn more about bluebirds, or other types of birdhouses in the Audubon Birdhouse Book.

A male Western Bluebird perched on a branch.

Placing the Nest Box

Eastern Bluebirds prefer forest clearings and semi-open country with scattered trees. Big yards, orchards, and cemeteries are good nest box sites. The preferred nesting habitats for Mountain Bluebirds consist of short grass areas interspersed by a few trees. Western Bluebirds can be found in woodland edges and open, park-like forests, including those that have been thinned or lightly logged. Space individual or paired bluebird nest boxes at least 300 feet apart or out of the line of sight from the nearest bluebird nest box.

Mounting: The Xbox is designed to be mounted onto a half-inch conduit/rebar pole, called the “Gilbertson system.” Avoid mounting nest boxes on fences or trees where climbing mammals or snakes are present. Use predator guards to further block nest box access.

Height: Bluebirds nest within a wide range of heights, from two to fifty feet. Mounting at eye level provides easy checking; however, if cats or other predators are problems, hang nest boxes at least six to eight feet from the ground.

Materials

Lumber: cypress (used here), white cedar, hemlock, or local weather-resistant wood with low toxicity

One 1x10x11” (roof)

Four 1x6x10” (front, sides, and back)

Two 1x6x4” (floor and inner roof)

One 2x2x9” (pole-mounting block)

Exterior screws: twelve 15/8” (basic construction); two to six 11/4” (roof to inner roof); and two 2” (pole mounting block to back)

Caulk or sealant (sealing between top and inner roof)

One 21/2” galvanized nail (bent, latch nail)

Mounting: One 1/2”x5’ galvanized metal conduit, one 1/2”x4’–5’ steel rebar (for stake), and one conduit coupler

Steps 

All the pieces of needed laid out.

1.Hole saws were used for the xbox entrance and ventilation holes, as well as the mounting block. a table saw with its blade lowered was used for the drip kerfs on the underside of the roof and for the ladder kerfs on the inside of the front.

Attaching the back piece to the interior roof.

2. The back piece of the xbox is attached to the inner roof. two deck screws (15/8”) are installed with an impact driver.

Test fitting the sides.

3. Test-fit the attached back, unattached sides and inner roof. use a pencil to mark the placement of the recessed floor. drive in screws.

Sides are attached to inner roof.

4. Top of sides are attached to the inner roof above the entry hole.

Attaching the easy open front.

5. Pivot screws, driven into the front piece from the bottom of both sides, allow the front to open easily for checking and cleaning.

Creating the latch nail, by bending it out of place

6. One galvanized nail (21/2”) is bent to create the latch nail. Drill the latch nail hole slightly downward.

Installing the mounting block.

7. The mounting block for the gilbertson pole system is installed on the back of the xbox with two exterior deck screws (2”). Note the predrilled ¾” hole on the mounting block.

Applying some caulk to inner roof, before putting on exterior roof.

8. Apply a bead (line) of all-purpose low Voc caulk to the top of the inner roof prior to installing the exterior roof.

The pole system is easy to assemble.

9. The gilbertson pole system is easy to assemble. drive rebar into the ground, leaving two feet above ground. Attach conduit coupler to end of conduit. Tighten upper, shorter screw against conduit. Slip coupler over rebar. tighten lower, longer screw against rebar. clean pole with steel wool and coat it with furniture polish. Add baffle if needed.

A finished birdhouse for Bluebirds.

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Audubon Birdhouse Book A visit to almost any home or garden center presents birders with numerous cute and colorful contraptions that are sold as bird homes. But the fact is, many of these products provide anything but a safe refuge for your feathered friends.
Produced in association with the National Audubon Society, Audubon Birdhouse Book explains how to build and place functional DIY bird homes that are safe and appropriate for more than 20 classic North American species, from wrens to raptors. Each of the easy-to-build boxes and shelves within is accompanied by cut lists, specially created line diagrams, and step-by-step photography, making the projects accessible to those with even the most rudimentary woodworking skills. In addition, this practical and beautifully presented guide is packed with color photography and information about the bird species covered—including titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, phoebes, swallows, waterfowl, and even kestrels and owls—to help the reader properly place and maintain the homes to attract birds. And because these projects are the product of years of experience and field-testing, you can be sure you’re getting the best advice regarding proper design, safe construction materials, and correct home placement to mitigate exposure to elements, pests, and predators. Finally, beyond the birdhouses, you’ll find out how you can contribute to the larger birding community and even enhance your birding experience with the aid of new technologies.