Building A Birdhouse For Western Bluebirds
Western bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters. These lovely songbirds use holes in snags, dead and dying trees and wooden fence posts for their nests. However, in many bluebird ranges, natural cavity nests have decreased as a result of residential development and the replacement of family farms to agriculture. This has led the bluebirds to seek artificial structures for nesting.
If natural cavity nests are unavailable in their preferred nesting sites, the western bluebirds can stay in man-made nest boxes or bird houses where other habitat components exist. These structures, though, should be complemented with lots of open space with short grass that allows the birds to catch insects on the ground for their food. Keep in mind that bluebirds love to live in open park lands, pastures and meadows.
To attract the western bluebird to your backyard or garden, you should build a nest box with the proper dimensions. A nest box with a smaller entrance hole will keep away the European starlings which are a big threat to western bluebirds. In fact, these aggressive starlings caused the bluebird population to diminish as they often force the songbirds out of their nest including their baby birds. Although the size of a bird house is important, bluebirds are not really very particular about it. An entrance hole with a diameter of one and a half inches is ideal plus a small perch close to the house to allow an easy first flight for the young. Sides and the top part should be tight and bottom vent holes should be small enough not to allow mice and snakes to get inside.
The location of a bluebird nest box is vital. Bluebird boxes should be mounted on a thick wooden fence post or steel pole and should be about four to five feet high. Place them along woodland edges facing open land and away from human activity if possible. The entrance hole should be slightly to the southeast. The box should not face the prevailing wind as well. The area fronting the bird house should be extremely low with lots of vegetation such as tarweed, clarkia and needle grass.
An additional tip is to place the bird house in the sun as parasites tend to occur in moist shady locations. Some parasites that affect the western bluebird are the maffots of bowflies, blood parasites and bacterial enteritis. Avoid thick vegetation as well directly over the house. You can even put the house up on a tree but select those with high or very open canopy. Bluebirds dislike bodies of water in front of the house.