Learn how to build a Bluebird House and turn your yard into a Bluebird sanctuary. This DIY birdhouse allows you and your family to enjoy endless hours of watching and learning all about Bluebirds and their nesting habits.
Eastern bluebirds are a fantastic species to welcome into your yard! They tend to have gentle attitudes and eat tons of bugs, so they are much more of a friend than a foe. These bright birds are usually found east of New Mexico and love to nest in small, protected cavities, so adding a few nest boxes is perfect!
Reasons to build a DIY Bluebird house:
- Bluebirds need a place to nest.
Bluebirds only nest in cavities, and habitat loss has greatly diminished the bluebird population. With more areas being being developed for housing or business, habitats such as rotting trees, wooden fence posts, and abandoned woodpecker cavities are being cleared away. Where bluebirds have thrived in the past, it now can be a struggle to find a safe place to nest.
- Bluebirds eat insects.
Bluebirds’ first choice for food is insects, which is especially perfect if you live in the south! Their food preference will help control insects without the use of insecticides. You can’t get much more organic than this!
- It’s an inexpensive, easy family hobby.
Building and maintaining Bluebird houses is a great family activity. There are tons of free easy-to-build plans available. These birdhouses are a simple build that will provide everyone with loads of fun.
- It’s a great reason to be outdoors.
Outdoor activities in the winter are not volunteer magnets. Your family will be ready to give the birdhouses a quick review to make sure they are ready for the bluebird’s arrival in late January. Spring will be spent looking for the new bluebirds and watching them thrive.
Materials for a DIY Nest Box:
- Wood – A water-resistant wood such as Cedar or Cypress works well or solid, untreated wood with a water sealant will do.
- Saw- Jig, Circular, table, miter, hand saw, and miter box will do.
- Drill and 1.5-inch paddle bit
- Nails and hammer or screws and bit for your drill
- ½” conduit or pipe or fence post
- 24″ long piece of ½”rebar
- ½”conduit set-screw coupler
How to Build a Bluebird House
Building a Bluebird Nesting box can be done using many different materials and designs. We are going to build two Bluebird houses. Each will be built using a cedar fence picket, one will have a roof that extends beyond the body of the house and provides a little more protection from the sun and rain. These are very simple to build and can be done with only a saw and drill. We will also use an electric conduit to mount the Bluebird house and predator guard.
Step 1: Select a good picket for your birdhouse.
Budget-priced fence pickets are made from some of the lowest quality cedar on the market. Boards can warp with many resulting looks. If you see a twisted, kinked, or crooked board set it aside, and keep looking.
Boards that are bowed or cupped can be worked with, but if you have other choices set these boards aside also. Once you find a board that passes the straightness and flatness test, you need to check the board for rot. Rotted wood is soft and all you have to do to identify it is to poke it with your keys, fingernail, nail file, or clippers. If you can easily mark it, set this piece aside also.
Ideally, you want a flat, straight cedar board with no rot.
Step 2: Measure and cut your piece.
You will need about 60 inches of the board to build the Bluebird House. Measure and cut the board as shown below the Bluebird Nesting box.
Step 3: Make the entry hole
Secure the piece that will serve as the front of the Bluebird Nesting box and measure 5 ½ inches from the end of the board. Use a 1 ½ spade bit or hole bit to drill an entry hole 5 ½ from the end of the board.
Step 4: Assemble the pieces
First, attach one of the sides to the back–This should be the stationary side, not the swinging side you’ll use to access the inside for cleaning and observing.
Next, attach the bottom piece to the side and back of the Bluebird house. The bottom should be recessed ¼ of an inch. Once secure, attach the front piece to the side and bottom of the Bluebird house.
Now we are going to attach the swinging side to the Bluebird house. Measure down the front panel 1 ¼ inch and drill two pilot holes. Now install two 1 5/8 screws to hold the sidewall in place. To allow the sidewall to pivot more easily, you can back the 2 screws out until the sidewall pivots as you want. Near the bottom of the front drill a hole through the front into the swinging side, use a nail or screw to help hold the side closed.
The roof will fit snuggly to the back of the birdhouse and should overhang about 3 inches. This will provide the nest and hatchlings protection from blowing rain.
Step 5: Mount the bluebird house
We are going to mount the birdhouse to a 1/2”electric conduit. I am using the jigsaw used to cut the board, but a hacksaw would work as well. You could also mount the birdhouse onto a fence post.
To secure the birdhouse to the conduit, ½”conduit straps will be used. I used number 8 self-tapping screws, but wood screws would have been a better choice.
Step 6: Put up your birdhouse
I drove a 24″ long piece of ½”rebar 18″ into the ground. Then I placed the conduit over the rebar. To prevent the birdhouse from twisting on the rebar, I secured the conduit to the rebar with a ½” conduit set-screw coupler.
Securing conduit to the rebar with a ½” conduit set-screw coupler. This coupler will prevent the Birdhouse from twisting on the rebar.
When do bluebirds begin to nest?
Bluebirds will begin looking for a nesting location in early spring and nest in between March and May. They can nest 1-3 times a year, so you could have occupancy throughout August!
Be sure to keep an eye on the Bluebird house and don’t allow House Sparrows to occupy the house. Check the house weekly and, if you are continually having to remove the House Sparrow nest, you might need to close the house temporarily so that the sparrows find different places to nest. After a few weeks, open the house and continue to monitor for occupancy. Once the house is occupied by Bluebirds, continue observing the Nesting box, it can be opened for closer observation until the nestlings are about 12 days old.
Why shouldn’t you allow house sparrows in your bluebird house?
House sparrows are not native to North America, and they are very aggressive with other birds. They often push out natives like bluebirds from houses and bird feeders. The male house sparrows can be quite violent and will kill bluebirds if they want to take over a space.
You don’t generally want to attract them to your home as they have a habit of stuffing pieces of litter, leaves, and general nesting materials into any crevice they find… Not great for your vents!
How to tell the difference between a sparrow nest and a bluebird nest:
Bluebirds build delicate cup-shaped nests nearly entirely of fine grass and pine needles. They may use hair, fur, and feathers, but they do not use litter or any “rough” materials.
A house sparrow is messier and will use nearly any material to build their nest. Debris, leaves, twigs, paper… Just about anything they can get.
It’s best to check the houses multiple times a week to prevent house sparrows from making their home inside of your bluebird house. About 1 week after making the nest, sparrows will lay their eggs, so you’ve got to be quick! If you don’t have time to check the houses, it’s best to just plug up the entry hole.
What can you do to keep house sparrows away?
We designed this bluebird house specifically to attract bluebirds and not house sparrows. We did not include a perch for a reason–Bluebirds don’t use them, and house sparrows love them. The location you choose for the birdhouse can also help or hurt your efforts.
House sparrows love to nest near buildings, so placing the bluebird house away from buildings is best. Additionally, sparrows prefer to nest up high (above 5 feet), so setting up your house to be lower will help dissuade house sparrows from nesting there.
House sparrows will eat nearly anything, but they particularly love millet and cracked corn. Not using birdseed mixes with these will help prevent house sparrows from taking over your area.
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