Archive for March 25th, 2011

Bluebird Boxes

Friday, March 25th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Not all birds nest in trees.

[sfx….bluebird song]

In fact, bluebirds are actually a cavity dwelling species in need of holes to build their homes. Habitat loss has diminished their housing opportunities, but bluebird enthusiasts are rolling out the welcome mat with man-made nest boxes.

16—It’s a rectangular box. In Texas we make it with a large overhanging roof, to protect from the sun. The dimensions are a little larger, that’s because our birds need more air because it’s so hot. Our birds need to be protected from the heat.

Pauline Tom is with the Texas Bluebird Society. The hole of bluebird nest box is about one and a half inches…perfect for a bluebird, not so great for a European Starling.

16—These birds came over from England in the mid 1800’s. It was like bringing fire ants in, a terrible, terrible pest. And so they’ll take the cavities that our native birds need, and they’ll actually destroy the eggs and the nestling.

For information on how to build you own nest box, log on to the Texas Parks and Wildlife web site. If you do take on the responsibility of a blue bird nest box…

09—You would clean out the nest box when the birds fledge. The nest box is used over and over.

That’s our show for today. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Build a Bluebird House

[illustrated instructions for building a bluebird house]
Materials List

  • 1 x 10-inch lumber–33 inches.
  • 6’/2 inches of ‘/2-inch wood dowel or metal hinge.
  • One 1-1/2-inch wood screw with washer.
  • 20 to 25 l’/2 to P/t-inch nails.
  • Wire or ring-shank nails to attach box to post.

Construction Notes

  • Dimensions given are for 3/4-inch thick lumber.
  • Make entrance hole precisely l-1/2 inches in diameter and l-1/4 inches from the top.
  • Provide space between top and sides for ventilation.
  • If possible, use 1-3/4-inch galvanized siding nails or aluminum nails.
  • Round comers on bottom of box for drainage, and recess bottom 1/4-inch.
  • Roughen inside of front board by making notches with a saw or holes with an awl or drill, to assist young in climbing to entrance hole.
  • Top of the box should be attached at the back by a 1/2-inch wooden dowel or metal hinge, and in front by a 1-1/2-inch wood screw to facilitate easy opening for inspection and cleaning.
  • Drill two or three holes in the back panel of the box above and below the enclosure, to aid in quick, easy attachment to pole or post.
  • Do not add any type of perch to the box; it will only serve to attract sparrows.

Site Selection

Site selection is the single most important step in having a successful bluebird program. Bluebirds utilize only a very specific type of habitat for nesting and only rarely will deviate from it. In general, bluebirds prefer open areas with scattered trees where the ground is not covered with tall undergrowth.

There are three general areas that should be avoided when selecting a nest site:

  1. Avoid placing nest boxes in towns or within the immediate area of farm yards. House sparrows invariably will occupy every such nest box.
  2. Do not place boxes in heavy timber. Bluebirds prefer sites associated with timber, but more at the edge of a clearing rather than in the timber stand itself.
  3. Do not place boxes in or near areas of widespread insecticide use. Bluebirds feed almost entirely on insects during the nesting season.

Installation and Maintenance

  • Place boxes at 150- to 200-yard intervals.
  • Mount boxes about five to seven feet above ground level. Fence posts make excellent mounting sites.
  • Clean boxes as soon as possible after a successful hatch. Bluebirds will not utilize the same nest box unless it is cleaned.