Bluebird Nest Box Care

When providing a bluebird nest box, there are several very important things you should do to help maximize the chances of a successful fledging. Here are some common practices to start with:

General Nest Box Tips

Put up your bluebird boxes by mid March. Make sure they are clean and ready to go. Do not take down your boxes after just one fledging. Bluebirds breed more than once a year. After a fleding, you should clean out the box though. You should leave your boxes up year-round in clean condition when not being used. The reason is that bluebirds look for nest boxes at all times of the year. If they come through your area and there is not a box up, they may pass by next summer since they had no success before.

Monitor Your Nest Box

It is said that if you do not monitor your bluebird nest boxes, it may be better not to put them up at all. For this reason, it is important to choose a house that is able to be opened. Checking of houses should be performed on a regular basis (about every 5-7 days). Many people have heard that birds will reject their young if they are handled or even eggs that have been touched. This statement is false and should be disregarded. Birds have a very limited sense of smell for one, and there have been very few if any cases where birds appeared to abandon a nest after it was tampered with.

When you monitor nest boxes, it is important not to do this in extremely cold or hot weather or when it is very windy outside. This may chill or overheat the bluebirds. When opening a box, keep in mind that the bluebirds inside may jump out when you open it. After about 2 weeks, you should not monitor nest boxes. This can cause the bluebird to leave the nest too early. When monitoring, take along a notebook in which to write your observations. One of the most common and dangerous parasites to bluebirds are blowfly larvae. You should examine the nesting material for signs of these parasites. Check areas such as under the birds' wings for scars. If you find a blowfly infestation, replacing the nest with one made of natural grasses often discourages them. When disposing of an old nest, doing so near the nest site may cause extra and unwanted attention from predators. Close the box securely when finished and record your observations. For information on trapping House Sparrows and other predators, see the links section for House Sparrow Control at Your Bluebird Nesting Box.

Weather Seal Your Nest Box

Coat the whole outside of the outside of the nest box with clear silicone caulking (or just at the seams if preferred) and thickly brush in. This keeps it watertight and will not crack or chip.

If you have a tip for weather sealing, e-mail me!

Remove Old Nesting Material From Your Box

Although bluebirds may use an old nest twice, this sometimes can be harmful to the birds by attracting diseases and parasites. The best action is to clean out the old nest after each breed. This will also let the bluebirds know that the box is not being used. To do so, open the box and clean out all nesting material with a screwdriver-like tool. You may want to spray out the inside of the box with a garden hose. Another good reason to clean out old nesting material is the fact the birds will normally build at least a partial nest on top of the old one. This puts them too close to the entrance of the house and makes them easier targets for predators.