Bluebird and Small Cavity Nester Conservation
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Nestbox Plans

Bluebirds and other native birds like Tree Swallows , chickadees and titmice nest in cavities. Because of development, a lot of their natural habitat is gone. You can help these birds survive and thrive by putting up a bird house, called a nestbox, that they can raise a family in. You can buy a nestbox (one specifically designed for bluebirds) at a birding store or online, or you can make your own. See nestbox specifications for recommended box and entrance hole size and mounting height.

Here are some sources of plans:

Multiple Plans

Specific Plans

Nestbox Information

  • Nestbox Pros and Cons - links to plans for more than 50 styles, and a list of the pros and cons of various nestbox styles.
  • Highlights - an animated, printable demo on a decent box that children can make.

Also see plans for a predator baffle to prevent eggs, nestlings and adults from getting attacked or eaten by climbing predators like cats or raccoons, and snakes.

If you make your own nestbox, use PVC or unpainted, untreated 3/4" - 1" wood, put on an overhanging (2-5" overhang) roof (a shallow saw kerf (groove) will keep rain from soaking into box), no perch, a round 1 1/2 " diameter hole (or 1.375" x 2.250" oval hole. Mountain Bluebirds need a 1 9/16" hole), ventilation, drainage holes, and make it deep enough so predators can't reach in and get to the eggs. Make sure it has a door that opens for cleaning and monitoring. If rough wood is not used, add kerfs to inside of door to enable fledglings to climb out.

Please do not let House Sparrows nest in your boxes. These non-native birds attack and kill bluebird adults, eggs and babies. See tips on how to manage House Sparrows. If they are in your neighborhood, at least put up a Sparrow Spooker as soon as a bluebird lays an egg in a box. Also, remove House Sparrow nests and eggs 1-2 x/week if you are sure the occupant is a House Sparrow.

For more information see:

How the waiting countryside thrills with joy when Bluebird brings us the first word of returning spring. Reflecting heaven from his back and the ground from his breast, he floats between sky and earth like the winged voice of hope.
- WL Dawson, Birds of Ohio, 1903

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May all your blues be birds!

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Last updated June 30, 2014. Design by Chimalis.

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