Build a Bluebird Box

Thu, 01/07/2010
Revised Date: 
Mon, 01/24/2011
Written By: 
Matt Seek

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What’s red, white and blue, eats bugs, and sings in the spring? It’s Missouri’s state bird, the eastern bluebird. In early March, bluebirds search for hollow trees or abandoned woodpecker holes in which to nest. Even if your yard lacks these natural cavities, you can still have bluebirds. Just build a bluebird box.

  1. Ask an adult for help.
  2. Gather materials. You'll need a board 5 feet long, 6 inches wide and 1 inch thick, plus some nails or screws. Cedar lumber is best, but other types of wood can be used. Avoid treated lumber because the chemicals are toxic to birds.
  3. Round up some tools. You'll need safety glasses, a tape measure, a saw, and a hammer or screwdriver.
  4. Follow these bluebird box plans.

Location, Location, Location

Bluebirds are picky about where they nest. Here’s how to persuade a pair to use your box.

  • Put your box up before March.
  • Select an open, grassy area with scattered trees such as a backyard or pasture. Avoid brushy areas unless you want house wrens in your bluebird box.
  • Hang your box 4 to 6 feet high on a post. Face the box toward a tree or shrub. Bluebirds will hang out there to watch for insects to pounce upon.
  • Space boxes at least 125 yards apart. Bluebirds need plenty of room to find food for themselves and their babies.

Spring Cleaning

Keep your bluebird family happy by checking your box often and keeping it tidy.

  • Inspect your box every February. Repair or repaint it if necessary, and clean out any old nests inside.
  • In March, begin checking your bluebird box once a week. Bluebirds lay 2 to 7 pale blue eggs in a tidy, cup-shaped nest of woven grass. Starlings and house sparrows build messy nests using many different materials. Remove sparrow and starling nests. Your box is for bluebirds!
  • Once a bluebird pair begins nesting, you can peek in on the family until the babies are 13 days old. After that, leave the box alone so the young aren’t spooked into leaving the nest too early.
  • Clean out old nests as soon as the young leave. Chances are good that the bluebird parents will nest a second or even third time!