How to Make a Bluebird House

Eastern Bluebird Perching On A Fencepost

The Eastern Bluebird will readily nest in a properly constructed box.
The Eastern Bluebird will readily nest in a properly constructed box. | Source

Easy To Build Bluebird House

Bluebird houses are easy to build and a great addition to any backyard. By following a few simple steps you can quickly create one for your back yard. I like to use recycled lumber to build mine but that is certainly not a requirement. All it takes is a few simple saw cuts, one hole and a handful of screws. The basic design is simple, the embellishments as unlimited as your imagination. The box should be square with an inside dimension of 4-5 inches. The hole should be 1 1/2 inches in diameter, no more, and between 5-8 inches off the bottom.

The hole size is the most important. Bluebirds are smallish and easily fall prey to nest stealing birds like brown headed cowbirds. A hole of 1 1/2 inches is perfect for keeping unwanted birds and other critters out of the nest. After that it comes down to a matter of not too big and not too small but just right. I suppose you could also use something round like a 5 or 6 inch diameter piece of PVC but I don't know about that for sure. Round may more closely resemble natural tree cavities.

  • Inside dimension of 4-5 inches. Can be square or round
  • Hole 1 1/2 inches in diameter, between 5-8 inches off the bottom.
  • Hang on a tree, fence post or other near open area.
  • Hang about 5-7 feet off the ground, with shade or other cover.

Bluebird House Plans

Start by building two boxes with an inside dimension of 4-5 inches and a depth of at least 3 1/2 inches.
Start by building two boxes with an inside dimension of 4-5 inches and a depth of at least 3 1/2 inches. | Source

Easy To Clean Bluebird House Design

Make sure your bluebird house is easy to clean. The hinge and bottle cap closure are easy to use, fun and a way to up cycle.
Make sure your bluebird house is easy to clean. The hinge and bottle cap closure are easy to use, fun and a way to up cycle. | Source

Bluebird House, Bluebird Not Included

Bluebird house in my yard. This one is a few years old and is currently occupied. The bluebird scared me while I was taking this picture.
Bluebird house in my yard. This one is a few years old and is currently occupied. The bluebird scared me while I was taking this picture. | Source

My Easy To Build Blue Bird House

I like to make bluebird houses from reclaimed shipping pallets. I only use the safe HT (heat treated) pallets and often find great wood such as oak, cherry and black walnut. Each house is made from a pair of boxes joined by a hinge. The two boxes, connected by the hinge, are attached to a back board. The back board is fitted with sissal rope ties used to attach the bird house to trees, posts or other suitable perches. If you don't want to use shipping pallets then any untreated 1x6 material is fine.

To use pallets you will have to "harvest" boards from the pallets. Don't try to pull nails, it is a waster of time. Use a circular or sawsall to cut the flat boards away from the stringers. Then you can mill the boards into the sizes you want. Important tip; don't force the boards to your plans, adapt your plans to the boards. Doing this will save a lot of headache and trouble, plus each birdhouse will be unique. What I mean is you shouldn't start out with a finished dimension in mind. I can't always find pallets with boards that are exactly X inches wide. This means that some of my boxes are 4 inches deep and others are 5 inches deep or 4.67 inches deep.

  • Step One - Make two boxes with an inside dimension of 4-5 inches and a depth of at least 3 1/2 inches.
  • Step Two - Attach the two boxes at the side with an all-weather hinge. Make sure the two boxes are aligned and form a fairly tight seal.
  • Step Three - Attach the top box to a back board that is at least 15 inches long. Leave the bottom box free so that it can be opened for cleaning.
  • Step Four - Use a piece of wire and a bottle cap to make a closure on the side of the boxes opposite the hinge.
  • Step Five (Optional) - Embellish. The peaked roof is an easy addition. You can also add a perch pole or paint your house to look like a real house.
  • Step Six- Hang your new recycled pallet bluebird house on a tree or fence post.

A Pair Of Eastern Bluebirds

A breeding pair of Eastern Bluebirds.
A breeding pair of Eastern Bluebirds. | Source

Only Use HT Stamped Pallets

Only use HT stamped pallets for making bird houses or any other project.
Only use HT stamped pallets for making bird houses or any other project. | Source

Tips For Using Reclaimed Lumber

  • My number one tip for using reclaimed lumber to build a bird house is to be careful. The operating word here is used, meaning the wood has probably got nails or screws in it. It may also be broken in some way that produces a hidden splinter. Wood that has been piled up may also be home to animals like rodents and spiders. BE CAREFUL.
  • If you choose to use old shipping pallets the very first thing to check is for the HT or MB stamp. Never use pallets stamped MB, this is methyl bromide, a chemical pets control agent. HT pallets are heat treated and totally safe to use. The added bonus is that HT stamped pallets are usually made from hard woods such as oak, maple, cherry, black walnut and even mahogany. Any tree too small for commercial lumber can be cut into pallet wood.
  • Always make sure the wood is clean and free of debris. There are too many pallets lying around to make do with one that is dirty.
  • Make sure the board are not cracked. If you are using pallets it is easy to miss the forest for the trees. Just because the pallet is whole does not mean the boards are. I have had a promising pallet turn into a pile of kindling before my very eyes so be very thorough when checking.
  • Do not use treated wood. I do not know if it is safe or not but don't. Don't paint the inside of the bird house as well. Bright colors on the outside may keep bluebirds away so use restraint when choosing a color scheme.

Eastern Bluebird Facts

  • Eastern Bluebirds are a member of the Thrush family. Thrush birds are small to medium birds with round bodies and short tails. They like to feed on the ground and prefer open areas with plenty of scrub and brush.
  • Eastern Bluebirds like to sit on a perch such as an overhanging branch, telephone wire or house gutter where they can watch for prey on the ground. Once spotted the bluebird will then swoop down and snatch the insect or worm before it can get away.
  • Eastern Bluebirds readily take to nest boxes provided they are clean and have the proper dimensions.
  • There are three types of bluebird in North America; the Eastern Bluebird, the Mountain Bluebird and the Western/Mexican Bluebird.

Where To Hang A Bluebird House

This is always the toughest part. You want the house to be in a good spot. One that will attract birds and that is also easy to see. When choosing placement keep in mind what the bluebird likes. Open areas with high perches where it can perch and hunt. Fence posts and/or poles placed along the edges of yards, near stands of trees, in or around meadows and pastures are all great places for a bluebird houses. Best placement is 5-7 feet off the ground, on the side of a tree or top of a fence post. Having shade or other cover for the box can be a plus as well. I have two boxes in my yard, both with residents. One is tied to a tree in my side yard, the other is tied to a tall deck support in my other side yard. Both boxes have shade and are not commonly trafficked areas. Here is a list of places where bluebirds are using boxes I built.

  • My parents backyard, Bridgeton, NC. - On the side of a tree
  • My sisters backyard, New Bern, NC - Eastern Carolina urban back yard
  • My brothers backyard, Southport, NC - Southeastern Carolina suburban back yard
  • My backyard, Asheville, NC - Western North Carolina suburban back yard

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