Bluebird Home or Snake Feeder?


Bluebird Eggs

Not all nesting boxes provide a safe refuge for Bluebirds. Bluebirds have many predators, including snakes, raccoons, ants, squirrels and cats. Also, other birds, such as House sparrows, wrens, chickadees, and tree swallows, compete for available nesting sites.

Successful nesting boxes are constructed to protect Bluebirds from predators and discourage competition from other species. Snakes love to eat tasty bluebird eggs and young birds. Adding a baffle made of round metal ducting material on the mounting pole prevents snakes from slithering up the pole and entering the box. It also protects the nesting box from climbing cats, racoons and squirrels.

Ants can be another problem… you sure don’t want to check on the progress of newly hatched bluebirds and find them covered with ants! Covering a portion of the mounting pole (in a spot that won’t bother the Bluebirds) with a slippery or sticky substance should do the trick. There’s lots of recommendations on what to use, from vaseline to Teflon spray to Tanglefoot, a commercial insect barrier.

A good bluebird nesting box should try to mimic a natural cavity.. unpainted and made from untreated wood (treated wood contains toxins). It should be well ventilated, watertight, and have drainage holes… but never a perch, which attracts Sparrows and Wrens instead of Bluebirds.The round entrance hole should be 1 1/2 inches. The small hole will keep Starlings away but you will still have to be on the watch for House Sparrows, which destroy Bluebird eggs and kill young Bluebirds.

Bluebirds prefer open habitats with sparse ground cover and little or no understory. Open areas that border woodlands are good sites for bluebird nesting boxes… backyards, golf courses, churches, school yards, cemeteries and more. Avoid areas that are brushy, close to the woods or where there are lots of House Sparrows.

Successful backyard Bluebird boxes are an exciting family activity that helps keep Bluebirds common. Bluebird populations dropped drastically in the mid-1900’s but have made a remarkable comeback thanks to the many people who put up and maintain Bluebird boxes.

Spring is right around the corner… male bluebirds have already started to scout for housing. By late March or early April they will have selected a few options to show their mate, who will make the final choice. This is a great time to invite Bluebirds to your backyard habitat!


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