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How to Build a Bluebird House: Bluebird Nest Box Plans

Updated on May 18, 2017
A simple, easy to make and effective bluebird birdhouse
A simple, easy to make and effective bluebird birdhouse | Source

Build a Bluebird Birdhouse for Your Garden

Bluebird Nest Box Plans: Bluebirds are as beneficial as they are beautiful, preying on large numbers of beetles, caterpillars, crickets and other bugs. Cavity nesters, bluebirds seek out woodpecker holes and other natural crevices to build their nesting sites.

Bluebirds prefer open fields but as farmland gives way to urban sprawl, and with competition from starlings and sparrows, yet these beautiful birds have an increasingly difficult time finding suitable natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes for raising their young.

Fortunately, bluebirds can be attracted to backyards where they will nest in birdhouses built to proper specifications.This bluebird house is a simple and inexpensive project to build, and can be made from pine, cedar or redwood boards which are commonly available at home centers and lumber yards. The entrance hole is exactly 1-1/2" in diameter, letting the bluebirds in but keeping out the larger starlings.

Bluebird Nest Box Plans


The Cutting List:

Cut a 1" x 6" x 6 ft pine, cedar or redwood board into the following parts:

  • Front (part A) 5" W x 9-1/2" L
  • Back (part B) 13-1/2" W x 5" L
  • Sides (part C) 10-1/2" W x 4" L (Qty =2)
  • Roof (part D) 7-1/2" W x 7-1/2" L
  • Bottom (part E) 4" W x 4" L
  • Entrance guard (Part F) 3" W x 3" L

Bluebird Nest Box Plans:


Bluebird Nest Box Plans: Side View


Building the Nest Box

Some assembly required

Bluebird House
Bluebird House | Source

Lay Out The Pieces

Cut the sides (part C) on a 22 degree angle to create the slope for attaching the oversized roof. To determine the angle of the cut, measure up 10-1/2" from one end and make a mark. From the same end, measure up 9" up the other side of the board and make another mark. Then, use a ruler or straight edge to draw a line to connect the marks. Cut along the line to create an angled side piece.

The sides are shorter than the front section (part A). When aligned to the bottom edges and joined together, the shorter sides create a 1/2" gap under the roof line for air circulation and ventilation.

Layout and the drill the 1-1/2" entrance hole in the front (part A). Measure up 6" from the bottom edge, centering the entrance hole across the width of the front section. Use a Forsner bit, hole saw or paddle bit to drill the entrance hole.

Cut a 22 degree bevel across the top of the front section (part A), to match the slope of the roof and sides.Clip off each corner of the bottom section (part E) at a 45 degree angle, creating a gap for drainage gap. Drill four or five additional 3/8" holes, spaced evenly in the bottom section for additional drainage.

Assemble the Nest Box

Attach the front (part A) to one side piece (part C). This is the fixed side, while the other side is hinged to allow access to the finished nest box for periodic cleaning.

Attach the bottom (part E) to the sub-assembly.

Line up the remaining side (part C) with the bottom of the front (part A). To create a hinge, secure the side section to the front assembly with one nail or screw driven into edge approximately 1" down from the top.

Easy Access

Position the partially assembled bluebird house box to the back (part B), leaving 1/2" space above the side pieces. Secure the fixed side to the back section with nails or screws. Then, create the hinged side by driving one nail or screw one through the back (part B) to form a pivot point.

Position the hinge screws in the front and back sections directly across from each other, enabling the door to open easily (refer to the side view drawing). Drill and countersink a screw hole along the center of the bottom edge. A single short screw will secure the door, yet allow easy access for cleaning.

Attach the oversized roof to the back and front sections. The large roof creates overhangs along the front and both sides to protect the nest box from rain.

Drill a 1" hole into the center of the entrance guard (part F). Round off the edges with sandpaper, or use a round over bit to create a finished edge. Mount the entrance guard on a bias to create a diamond shape.

Mount the finished bluebird nest box between 5' to 10' above the ground. Use the entrance hole to center and drive a mounting screw through the back, and drive a second screw through the lower section of the back below the nesting box. The bluebird house should face out towards an open field or grassy area.

Ready For Occupancy!

Audubon Coppertop Cedar Wood Bluebird House Model NACOPBB
Audubon Coppertop Cedar Wood Bluebird House Model NACOPBB

This bluebird house features a slightly larger 1-9/16" hole that makes it easier for Mountain and Western bluebirds to enter (Eastern bluebirds like it too!). Approved by the National Audubon Society, this bluebird house had an attractive copper roof and a predator guard.


About Bluebird Nest Box Entrance Holes

Basic Bluebird House
Basic Bluebird House | Source

The exact size of the entrance hole into the bluebird nest box is very important. The entrance hole must be large enough for the bluebird, but small enough to keep out the larger sparrows and starlings.

  • Eastern Bluebirds fit comfortably through a 1 1/2" entrance hole.
  • In areas with Mountain Bluebirds, increase the size of the entrance hole to 1-9/16" in diameter.
  • Western Bluebirds will use either size, though some bird watchers report a higher success rate when using the 1-9/16" diameter entrance hole to the nesting box.
  • Do not use nest boxes with a 1 5/8" entrance hole, which is large enough for starlings to enter.

Hanging a Birdhouse

A Simple Cleat Makes It Easy

Make a simple cleat system for hanging projects such as birdhouses and window boxes. The cleat is made by ripping a piece of stock at a 45 degree angle.

Start with a piece of wood at least four inches wide, and slightly shorter than the width of the feeder. Tilt the table saw blade to 45 degrees, then set the fence to 2 " from the blade to rip the stock into two mirror image pieces, each with a 45 degree bevel cut along one edge.

Attach one of the pieces to the back of the project with the 45 degree angle of the cleat pointing downward to form an inverted "V" between the back of the feeder and the outside surface of the cleat.

Attach the second piece where you want to hang the feeder, this time with the "V" of the cleat facing upward. Use weather resistant screws, and make sure the cleat is level.When fitted together, the two 45 degree "V"s from each piece lock together to securely hold the feeder in place.

Add a filler strip along the bottom edge of the feeder, below the cleat on the backside, to hold the feeder upright and plumb. Cut the filler strip to the same thickness as the cleats.

Bluebird Nest Box - Rather Buy Than Build?

Have you seen a Bluebird in your yard?

See results
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird | Source

Fun Facts on Bluebirds

There are three species of bluebirds in North America: the Eastern, the Western and the Mountain bluebirds.

Bluebirds eat mostly bugs and berries, and they are typically not interested in bird feeders filled with birdseed.

Bluebirds like mealworms, and will visit feeders filled with live or freeze-dried mealworms.

Eastern bluebirds can have up to three broods per season.

Bluebird eggs are pale blue in color.

In winter, several bluebirds will often roost together in a bluebird house for warmth.

Bluebird populations suffered and declined in the 1960s, but rebounded with the help from concerned birdwatchers. The North American Bluebird Society was formed to encourage and instruct and encourage people to build and hang bluebird houses.

Baby Bluebird Hatching In A Nest Box

Tips for Attracting Bluebirds into Your Garden

Bird watchers and gardeners try to attract bluebirds into their yards, both for their beauty and for the beneficial role they play by eating many different types of insects.

Bluebirds inhabit open spaces in rural areas, and they are often found near fields, pastures and in open areas at the edge of woodlands. They can also be enticed to visit gardens that cater to their basic needs while providing an environment to make them feel safe and secure.

Our garden strives to provide the four essential requirements for bluebirds and other feathered visitors: Food, Shelter, Water and Nesting Areas. Plantings include a mixture of native and cultivated perennials and shrubs, planted along and under the mature oak trees where the birds can find berries and hunt for bugs.

Eastern Bluebird Range Map
Eastern Bluebird Range Map

Feeding Bluebirds

Bluebirds eat grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, moths and other insects

Birds Choice Bluebird Mealworm Feeder
Birds Choice Bluebird Mealworm Feeder

Bluebirds love eating mealworms, and this specialized feeder is equipped with entrance holes that are just the right size to let bluebirds in, but keeps larger birds out. The bluebirds can eat in peace!


Some Of Our Backyard Birdhouses

Nest Boxes and Birdhouses
Nest Boxes and Birdhouses | Source

Peterson's Slant Front Bluebird House

DIY Peterson Bluebird Nest Box Plans
DIY Peterson Bluebird Nest Box Plans | Source

This slant front bluebird house is a bit more challenging to build than the basic nesting box, but the interesting design is worth the effort. Bluebirds like this nest box too, and they will readily move in to raise their brood. Click on the link to see how I built this bluebird nest box, including diagrams, photos and step-by-step instructions.

Build a Traditional Bluebird House: Slant Front Style

Folk Art Bluebird Houses

Peaked Roof Bluebird Houses
Peaked Roof Bluebird Houses | Source

These birdhouses are built to the specifications preferred by the Eastern Bluebird. A bit of whimsy, a shaped entrance guard, a little paint and a few repurposed items transform a basic nest box into an interesting piece of folk art that looks great in the garden.

How To Build A Rustic Birdhouse

Tell Us About Your Bluebird Birdhouses

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    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 2 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I've used several different types of wood to including cedar, redwood and pine to build birdhouses. The birdhouses made from pine last several years; the pine bluebird house in the second photo has been outdoors for at least five seasons (maybe more). It has weathered to a silvery-gray and is still structurally intact. The key is making pine birdhouses that last include the overhanging roofline, drainage holes in the floor and gaps under the roof that allows rainwater to drain while creating good air circulation to help dry out the interior of the birdhouse. Staining or painting the outside further protects the wood from the elements. While the pine won't last forever, pine is inexpensive, readily available and birdhouses are fun to make. When the wood finally decays, I just build another birdhouse!

    • profile image

      Woodn't yah know 2 years ago

      According to the above list of the types of wood to use for the birdhouses, wouldn't pine dry out, crack, rot, and fall apart under wet conditions in just a few years?

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      These are clear and easy to understand plans for building a bluebird house. The already made bluebird houses are great too. We rarely see them.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      We only see blue thrush jays in our Los Angeles garden. The beautiful bluebird continues to elude us.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I had two pairs of bluebirds arrive this week. They have been house hunting (checking out my two nesting boxes). I'm making a third bluebird house today. I need to modify one that is designed for Eastern bluebirds. My Mountain bluebirds need a slightly larger interior and entry hole. Thanks again for the plans.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Ah, the magical bluebird! We have seen just a handful of them as they come to visit. I never realized that you had to build a special house for the bluebird.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Another well presented DIY on making a Bluebird house, the birds of the world thank you for teaching others how to make a house a home for them!