Nest Box information

Nest Box Information

As cavity nesters, Bluebirds seek out nesting sites like tree hollows and stumps to build their nests. As humans actively remove these natural nesting sites, naturalists have encouraged people throughout the country to erect bluebird boxes which will help maintain and grow populations of bluebirds for generations to come.

  • Increasing nest sites by erecting a proper nest box or creating a bluebird trail of many nest boxes.
  • Monitor your nest boxes to identify and correct nesting problems to improve the bluebird’s chance of survival.
  • Keep records on your nest boxes and send the information to the Ohio Bluebird Society to help its research programs.

My yard is not that big, how many boxes can I put up?

Boxes can be installed in pairs about 18 to 20 feet apart or one by itself. These pairs or boxes should then be about 100 yards apart. Bluebirds are territorial so two different couples will not use boxes placed too close together.

Where is the best location to place my box?

In open grass lands away from woods/brush, houses, barns, tool-sheds and where there is short (chemical free) grass. A clean source of water is also necessary.

The Bluebird Nest Box

  • A good bluebird nest box should be well ventilated, have watertight seams, contain drainage holes on the floor, be easy to monitor, and be easy to clean.
  • Cedar and Redwood are ideal, although Pine, plywood and other types of wood can be used. The outside of the boxes can be painted or stained. A light color is preferred to control heat.
  • Various types of treated lumber should not be used because of its chemical toxicity.
  • Boxes for Eastern Bluebirds should have a round entrance hole of 1-1/2″ to 1-9/16″ (38 – 40mm).
  • Oval holes measuring 1-3/8″ X 2-1/4″ may also be used for the Eastern Bluebird.

What Makes a Good Nest Box with Carl Gleditsch

Mounting the Box

  • Smooth round pipe is probably the best and simplest mounting system. An ideal pole material is 1/2″ electrical conduit, but any smooth round pipe will also work. Metal poles can be polished with steel wool and coated with carnuba wax.
  • If rat snakes are known to be in your area consider a proper pole baffle. Unless your trail is in an area where raccoons are not present, avoid mounting Bluebird boxes on a fence line or on trees. Raccoons are known to walk fence lines and may find your boxes.
  • Mount nest boxes so the entrance hole is approximately five feet above the ground. If possible, face the box away from the prevailing winds and facing towards a tree or shrub which is within 100 feet of the box. Trees and shrubs provide a landing spot for the young bluebirds when they leave the box. This will keep them off the ground, away from predators.
  • Boxes for the Eastern Bluebird should be spaced approximately 100 yards apart. If you are trying to “pair” your boxes, place two boxes within 18 to 20 feet of each other.
  • Do not face box opening toward open roads, a large pond or lake.

How to Set-Up a Blue Bird Nest Box in Your Backyard

Clever Sparrow Deterrent for Nest Boxes

OBS board member Carl Gleditsch has designed a monofilament deterrent (fishing line) that is effective if installed before House Sparrows show interest in a nest box. The monofilament (fishing line) is a permanent addition to the next box. It Is recommended to tie monofilament tight with a fisherman’s knot. Monofilament configuration on the front of the box allows native Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows to enter safely without danger of their wings becoming entangled. If the monofilament is securely fastened, the birds cannot get tangled in it.

Native cavity nesting birds fly up to the box, land on front with wings tucked to sides and enter undeterred. House Sparrows fly toward the entrance with their wings extended. The Sparrows don’t actually hit the monofilament, they see it just before landing and are deterred. Monofilament on the top of the box deters the House Sparrow from perching where it could harass nesting birds.

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