The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
If you are lucky on one of these leaden, gray late winter days you will be visited by bluebirds. The flash of their colors never fails to lift spirits and to remind us of spring. According to the Natural Events Calendar, this is the week that bluebirds start nesting. That schedule will be adjusted somewhat this year since we are going below zero one more time at least. But things will change fast once the snow goes away and now is the time to get ready for our blue-feathered friends. If you would like to attract bluebirds to your property this nesting season, put a nest box up ASAP. If you have a nest box or two, now is the time to make the rounds and get them in shape for the early nesters. Eastern Bluebirds actually nest up to three times in a season, and will begin looking for nesting as soon as the weather fairs up a bit.
Bluebirds are “cavity nesters” and readily accept “houses” that you put up for them. “Bluebirds cheer us and flatter us. They wholeheartedly welcome our efforts to help them, obligingly checking out boxes we put up, sometimes appearing as if on command,” writes Julie Zuckfoose in Enjoying More Bluebirds.
I have found that to be true, so take some time in the next few days to make the rounds and do a little maintenance on your houses. Remove old nests from last year and replace lost lids. Sometimes mice will build nests in bluebird boxes, as will wrens and chickadees. Remove whatever you find. Designs that let you open the side of the box are a lot easier to clean out than the type that just have a lid that opens on top.
If you build a nest box, make sure that you consider what bluebirds need. For instance, the entry hole needs to be 1 1/2” inches in diameter. You can obtain plans online for free from the American Bluebird Society or the Missouri Department of Conservation. Most plans will give you a few tips on where you put the box as well. I would also invest in a predator guard of some kind, if you can.
I have one house located just out my back door, close to the garden. It almost never fails to have a nest in it each spring. The birds use our clothes line posts and bean poles for perches and tolerate my granddaughters as we peek inside the box to watch their nest building and egg laying progress.
So put up a bluebird house. Bluebirds will readily accept your help. For a small amount of effort now, you can receive a whole summer’s worth of entertainment.