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How to Attract Bluebirds

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Bluebirds can be found throughout most of the country and are easy to attract with the right nest box placed in the right habitat. There are three species of bluebirds in North America. The Eastern Bluebird lives throughout the East. The Western and Mountain Bluebirds live throughout most of the West.

Step 1. Choose a nest box that is made of wood, has no perch, and has a 1 1/2-inch-diameter hole for Eastern and Western Bluebirds. For Mountain Bluebirds choose a nest box with a 1 9/16-inch-diameter hole (Western Bluebirds will also use this box in areas where the two species overlap). The box should have drainage holes in the bottom and ventilation holes at the top of the sides. The diameter of the floor should be about 4 by 4 inches for Eastern Bluebirds and 5 by 5 inches for Mountain and Western Bluebirds.

Step 2. Place the box in open, mowed habitat at least 100 feet from brushy wooded areas. Good areas are large lawns, open fields, farmland, pastureland, and parks. Mount the nest box about 4 to 5 feet high on a metal pole, facing any direction. You can also use a garden U-post. Use a baffle, or place a 4-foot length of 4-inch-diameter PVC pipe on the pole or post which will keep predators from climbing to the box. Make sure and put a cap on the top of the PVC pipe to prevent bluebirds from entering it. A "trail" consists of several boxes placed 100 yards apart. Put boxes up by early March, before nesting starts.

Step 3. Check your box at least once a week during spring and early summer. Opening the box will not hurt the birds. Bluebirds make neat nests of fine grasses or pine needles and have 4 to 6 blue, rarely white, eggs. Record number of eggs, young etc. If you encounter House Sparrow nests (large messy nests with paper scraps, piled to roof), remove them to discourage the sparrows from nesting. (They are a non-native species and are not protected by law as are native species.)

Step 4. After the bluebird young have fledged and left the box, remove the old nest. Bluebirds may return and nest up to three times in one season. Enjoy watching the bluebirds! To learn more about bluebirds, see Episode 108 of Stokes Birds At Home.

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