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Bluebird Nestboxes

Congratulations on your new bluebird nest box! The entry hole of the box is 1 ½" in diameter and will admit bluebirds as well as swallows, chickadees, nuthatches and wrens. These are all native cavity-nesting species and are protected by federal and state law. The English House Sparrow and European Starling are non-native species that have contributed to the decline of the bluebird. They are not protected by law and should be strongly discouraged from using nest boxes.

When and where: You should mount your nest box as soon as possible and leave it in place year-round. To attract bluebirds, it should be placed in a large open area with short grasses and scattered perches (fences, isolated shrubs or trees). It may face any direction except north. It is helpful to face it toward a large tree or shrub within 100 yards to which the young can fly when leaving the nest box. Mount the box at eye level to facilitate monitoring.

Spacing: To maximize bluebird occupation of your nest boxes, there should be a minimum of 100 yards between boxes, and they should not be placed near feeders or in other areas where there is a lot of bird or human traffic. If you get only swallows, you may want to try pairing nest boxes - placing two boxes within 10 feet of one another (or even on the same post), again making sure there is a minimum of 100 yards between nest box sites. If you get wrens, your nest box is too close to a brushy area and should be moved to a more open area if you prefer to attract bluebirds.

Predators: Standard nest boxes should be mounted with some kind of protection from climbing animals such as raccoons and cats. This may be in the form of sheet aluminum secured tightly to the wooden post or tree for a length of at least 24" or a baffle (inverted cone or stove-pipe that wobbles on the post). Greased PVC pipe or metal conduit is also effective, but must be re-greased regularly.

Predator-resistant nest boxes have a shelf below the entry hole which prevents the predator from reaching its 'arm' down to the nest contents. It also prevents birds such as crows, jays and kestrels from plucking young nestlings from the nest. Any standard box can be retrofitted with such a shelf as long as the box has a depth of at least 6" between the bottom of the entry hole and the top of the floor. The opening between the shelf and the back of the box must be 1 ¾" wide to allow passage of birds. Make sure that the inner surface of the box’s sides is rough so the birds can get a good toe-hold when exiting the box. A narrow strip of hardware cloth can be screwed in for that purpose. This is particularly helpful for swallows, which are weak climbers. While the predator-resistant nest box is effective against raccoons and cats, it will still admit snakes and weasels.

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Audubon Society of Corvallis
PO Box 148
Corvallis, OR 97339