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How to Build a Bluebird Nest Box in Fewer than 10 Steps

Eastern Bluebird at a nest box: Photo by James Rieman

How to Build a Bluebird Nest Box – An Easy DIY Guide

Watching a pair of vibrant eastern bluebirds scoping out the custom nest box you built just for them makes all the sawdust worthwhile. But protecting local breeding bluebirds extends beyond simply installing store-bought houses. Learning how to build a bluebird nest box fine-tuned to their specific needs gives cavity nesters the best shot at settling into safe, secure sanctuary.

Whether you have basic carpentry skills or zero experience, our step-by-step building plans act as blueprints tailored for bluebirds. We’ll walk through key design details, ideal construction materials, proper mountings, helpful accessories and maintenance tips so your handmade nesting box succeeds. With a few tools, scrap wood, entrance hole templates and paint in hand, you can erect new real estate perfect for the bright blue tenants.

Bluebird Nest Box Basics

Before breaking out hammers, let’s survey key bluebird nesting requirements so construction aligns with the species:

Sizing Specs – Inside floor dimensions near 5×5 inches with an interior height of 8+ inches allows ample room. But avoid oversized caverns – the bluebirds will shun spaces that are too big for their liking.

Ventilation Holes – Drill ventilation holes toward the top of the front and back boards between 3/4 to 1 inch wide and spaced 1-2 inches apart for airflow. Roof overhangs also encourage circulation.

Wood Types – Exterior plywood, cedar, cypress and pine all endure weather and resist rotting thanks to natural oils and resins. Avoid particle boards or sawdust composites which deteriorate faster.

Access Door – A side, roof or floor door at least 4 inches tall/wide enables monitoring without disturbing nests as easily. Some even slide up for minimal disturbance!

Trusted Designs – Replicate tried and true dimensions from publicly available schematics optimized for bluebirds rather than going rogue on first attempts. Customization refinements come later.

Focusing on safety and reproducibility means sticking to non-toxic woods for source material plus integrating vent holes and early monitoring access. Consult our plans below as handy 3-season starter homes for bluebirds near you!

DIY Bluebird House Shopping List

Gather these hardware store finds and garage scraps to start sawing your tailored nesting box:

  • 1x Pine, cedar or cypress boards
  • Wood screws or nails
  • Exterior wood glue
  • Staples for hardware cloth
  • 1-3” wood screws for doorframe
  • Outdoor wood sealer/stain
  • Tools: saw, drill, screwdriver, staple gun

Aim for untreated, non-toxic woods when possible, or verify stains and water sealants used are non-leaching after fully cured. Now with materials in hand, let’s start crafting!

Cutting Pieces to Size

To construct the nest box top, cut a square wooden piece measuring 11 1⁄4 inches on all sides.

For the two side panels, slice wooden boards to 6 1⁄2 inches wide. The rear edge should stand 12 1⁄4 inches tall, with the front edge at 10 3⁄4 inches in height. On each side, drill a row of 5⁄8 inch ventilation holes positioned 1 inch down from the upper edge and 2 inches in from the sides. Toward the top of what will become the front, drill a 1⁄8 inch hole on each side 3⁄8 inches in from the edge for later fitting nails or screws.

The front piece should measure 5 inches across by 10 3⁄4 inches long. Chisel a circular entrance hole in the center, with the hole’s midpoint 2 inches down from the top and 2 1⁄2 inches in from either side. Cut deep crisscross scratches covering the interior surface to help chicks climb out.

Cut the square floor panel to 5 inches on every side. At its central point, drill one 3⁄8 inch ventilation hole. Trim each corner of the floor at a 45 degree angle, with sides measuring 3⁄4 inches long to create an octagonal shape.

Slice the back panel 5 inches wide by 15 inches tall.

Apply glue and nails to affix the side boards flush with the back piece at the top most point where both meet. The roof line will later slant downward toward the front.

Attach the recessed bottom panel using glue and nails, with its edges inset half an inch from the sides’ lower points.

Hinge the entrance piece to the front via nails through the 1⁄8 inch holes, allowing the panel to swing open later for maintenance access. A brass screw at bottom center will also secure the front cover panel in place when closed. Leave a 1⁄2 inch gap at top to serve as a ventilation space.

Finally, nail on the sloped roof panel, aligned to create a 2 3⁄8 inch side overhang and 3 3⁄4 inch overbite past the front piece. Caulk sealant fills in any rear roof cracks against rainwater intrusion before topping with a shingle roof nailed on by 3⁄4 inch roofing nails, also extending 1⁄4 inch over the nest box sides.

Boring Entrance Holes

Bluebirds require a 1 1⁄2” diameter opening centered about 2 inches from the top of the nest box. Cover holes with an external wooden dowel during the offseason to prohibit blowflies and house sparrows until breeding seasons reopen for business.

Drill a pilot hole before attempting to plunge cut a gaping 1 1⁄2” gateway since forcing a boring bit through solid wood often burns up amateur drills quickly. Use a smaller bit like 3⁄8” first, then follow with the full sized bit. Mounting entrance hole guides aid precision centering.

We also recommend carving a customized shape along the midline of your dowel that fits into a corresponding notch filed into the entry hole rim. This deters round dowels from rotating to seal better during winter months while easy to align come springtime.

Integrating Other Features

Ventilation – Drill oriented slash holes toward top of front and back, keeping the angular bottom tips to deter rain entry. Make at least four holes 1” across spaced about 2 inches.

Monitoring – Adding a side hinged roof, side panel or floor door secured on one side makes inspecting easier without disturbing nests as much. Spring latches allow one handed access. Just don’t add perches!

Predator Guards – Mold hardware cloth into a sleeve enclosing the lower half of the nesting box but not blocking ventilation. Staple mesh tight along the invasion paths raccoons and snakes may take.

Mounting Bluebird Nesting Boxes Properly

Now the fun part comes – erecting nest boxes through East Coast habitats primed for western and eastern bluebird pairs house-hunting come spring and summer:

Location Types

Seek open or partly open areas proximate to adequate food sources like:

  • Meadows
  • Suburban yards
  • Parks and rec areas
  • Open woodland fringes
  • Golf courses
  • Cemeteries

Avoid thick forests with dense understories preventing easy flight access. But locate boxes just inside treelines or fencelines to ensure tempting perches for hunting insects don’t enable ambush attacks by hawk and crows in completely exposed fields.

Mounting Configurations

Elevate boxes 5-6 feet up metallic electrical conduit, wooden posts, existing poles or structures, safely out of cats’ and snakes’ reach.

Brackets allow adjusting angles to deflect harsh sun, rain and wind. Face the shelter away from prevailing storm trajectories. Optimally orient openings facing mornings sun but with shade or dappled sunlight by afternoons.

Spacing Strategies

Keep pairs 100-300 feet between boxes to prevent male confrontation over their territories for nesting rights. But allow 15-20 feet visibility between sites so competing males can practice dramatic dive displays. Neighboring unmated males ultimately strengthen pair bonds.

With ideal home customization, proper installation and a little seasonal maintenance, handcrafted nesting boxes become cherished fertility clinics protected from obtrusive elements and egg snatching vermin. Soon vivid azure eggs transition to fluffy nestlings benefitting generations!

Performing Seasonal Bluebird Box Maintenance

Handcrafted nest boxes require minor upkeep keeping tenants happy and premises continually well-equipped for precious occupants:

Yearly Cleaning

  • Clear old nests post fledging
  • Scrap off paint flakes
  • Use borax/vinegar solutions

Twice Yearly Maintenance

  • Check roofs and screens
  • Test/fix latches
  • Clear entrance guard

With TLC attention ensuring durable aesthetics and sanitary conditions annually, your carved cavity masterpiece sustains years of vibrant bluebird broods fledging successfully thanks to your seasonally stellar landlord services!

We try to emulate the tried and true designs of expert organizations like the Audubon Society in order to ensure optimal success for breeding bluebirds. Now eager hobbyists can craft durable customized nest boxes explicitly engineered for bluebirds right in home workshops with our step-by-step instructions. Follow our designs as handy springboard plans for attracting bluebirds, then create enhanced versions for other species. Soon vivid blue migrants will find your ideal sanctuary for settling down to continue colorful family legacies!