Building a Birdhouse for the Eastern Bluebird
The eastern bluebirds, similar to their close relative the western bluebird, are cavity nesters. Their natural nests are mostly located in tree cavities especially those that have been occupied previously woodpeckers. In southern Ontario, Canada for instance, the eastern bluebirds breed throughout the province in habitats like forest clear buts, forest fire burn areas, agricultural areas near urban centers, fallow fields, grazed pastures, fruit orchards or almost any open area
so long as there are available nest cavities and short grasses.
Several times have the bluebirds encountered challenging situations that threatened their population. Some of these were the removal of dead and hollow trees as well as tree limbs, removal of old and diseased orchard trees and the introduction of the European starlings and House sparrows that led to a stiff competition for nesting sites.
If you’re a bird and nature lover who wants to provide a bright future for the eastern bluebirds, you can do your share by providing nest boxes or birdhouses for them in your backyard. Similar efforts have been made for many years now and the results were very positive in that bluebird populations went up.
Eastern bluebirds are also known to be semi-colonial nesters. In other words, they really don’t mind nesting in places where other bluebirds have previously settled. These colorful birds are a favorite of many people and their appearance usually signals the start of spring after a long winter.
If you’re planning to build a nest box for eastern bluebirds, the inner part should measure at least four inches across and four inches long. The entrance hole should be one and a half inches in diameter and should be six inches from the bottom of the box. Provide proper ventilation at the sides and drainage holes at the bottom.
Mount the nest box to a pole or board about six feet tall and not on trees or buildings. The bird house should face bushes, shrubs, trees, pastures and orchards. If you’re making more than one, be sure to provide enough spaces in between because bluebirds are extremely territorial notably during the mating season. Place the box at least 100 feet away from wooded areas and away from the prevailing wind or the north side.
Eastern bluebirds may begin nesting by April depending on the weather and location. Ideally, birdhouses should be checked on weekly basis but be sure to do it carefully so as not to disturb the birds. Refrain from inspecting during the fledgling stage as the parents may abandon the nest.
Birdhouses can be cleaned after the first nesting in July and in late September. However, you can wait until fall because studies have shown that cleaning the nest boxes in mid-season is not really needed. The more experienced blue birds have been found to move their young in a temporary place when they replace their wet nests with new dry grass.