Bluebirds are fun to observe for their color and wonderful to have around because they help control insect populations. But even the finest bluebird house can fail to attract these picky creatures if it is not placed just to their liking. There are a few key factors to consider when you select the right spot for a bluebird house.
Bluebirds like open spaces. These birds prefer the suburbs and rural areas for those reasons. Open yards, meadows, pasture land, orchards and golf courses are excellent locations for bluebird houses.
Select a location that offers an unobstructed view of the nesting box opening and an open flight path to the box. Low growth shrubs in front of the bluebird house are acceptable but trees and tree limbs should be between five and 25 feet away. The proximity of tree limbs is important for bluebirds to perch when hunting insects and for fledglings attempting their first flights.
Since these birds are insect eaters, it is vital to make certain yards, pastures and open areas are free of pesticides.
Position of the Nesting Box
Face the nesting box away from prevailing winds, which usually means positioning the box opening toward the south-southeast in most parts of the country.
While the bluebird house can be mounted on a pole as high as 15 feet off the ground, it is best to keep the box between four and 10 feet from ground level.
Competitors and Rivals
Bluebirds are not social creatures so give them some room between houses. These birds are territorial within a two-to-three-acre area, so maintain about 100 yards between houses.
Bluebird houses can also be taken over by other birds such as wrens and sparrows. Keep the box away from forested areas and away from barns to minimize this risk. If competitor birds do take over a bluebird house, erecting a second bluebird house within 20 to 25 feet of the first one will often let bluebirds settle into the new home and leave the old one to competitor birds.
Raccoons, snakes and cats can be big trouble for bluebirds. Mount the bluebird house on a metal or PVC pole rather than a wooden post so it is more difficult for these predators to climb. Greasing the mounting pole with automotive grease helps.
Avoid facing bluebird houses toward bodies of water as some experts claim it deters bluebirds from nesting.
Robert Korpella has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a certified Master Naturalist, regularly monitors stream water quality and is the editor of freshare.net, a site exploring the Ozarks outdoors. Korpella's work has appeared in a variety of publications. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas.