UP A BLUEBIRD
Establishing your own bluebird trail can
be fun and rewarding, but requires a real
commitment of time and effort.
typical trail usually consists of five or
more bluebird boxes. The boxes need to be
cleaned, repaired and opened in the
spring, checked every week during nesting
and then closed down after nesting is
complete. Trails should probably not be
started if time is not available to check
and maintain the boxes during the nesting
records of the activity on your bluebird
trail can be fun and can provide valuable
information. The North American Bluebird
Society (NABS) compiles data on bluebird
populations in North America and Annual
Forms are available from NABS.
Habitat is the most important factor to
consider in establishing your trail. Rural
locations with scattered trees and low or
grassy ground cover are preferred. The
best habitat will include nearby fence
lines, telephone wires, or tree branches
where bluebirds may perch to search for
food. Pastures, golf courses, cemeteries,
and parks are good locations.
from areas with high pesticide usage.
Avoid locating houses too close to homes
and other areas that house sparrows
frequent. Also avoid brushy areas that can
attract other nesting species and
Proper monitoring and spacing of the nest
boxes will increase the chance for a
successful bluebird trail.
boxes should be mounted so the entrance
hole is five to six feet above the ground.
box away from prevailing winds.
should ideally face toward a tree or shrub
which is within 100 feet of the box. This
provides easy access for young birds
leaving the nest.
Bluebird - Boxes should be spaced at least
100 to 150 yards apart. Some experts
recommend placing boxes in pairs about 25
feet apart, with the pairs then 100-150
and Mountain Bluebirds - Boxes should be
spaced about 300 yards apart.
boxes should typically be in place by
mid-March (early March in southern states
where bluebirds are year round residents),
but may also be put up later in the
Checking your bluebird boxes during
nesting season is one of the most
interesting and important parts of
managing your trail. It is not wise to
start a bluebird trail if you do not plan
to monitor it. Check the bluebird boxes at
least once a week during the nesting
season but do not open the box after
nestlings are 12 to 14 days old. (The
fledglings might leave the box before they
Here are a
few other bits of useful information when
checking your trail:
usually nest in late March or early
April. In the southern US bluebirds are
resident throughout the year and may
usually have two broods per season,
with three broods are a possibility.
typically lay 4 to 5 light blue eggs,
but as many as 7 is possible. Some eggs
may be white.
incubation period is 12 to 14 days.
birds remain in the nest 18 to 21 days
before they fledge.
bluebird nests, clean out the nest box
and close it after you are sure nesting
is complete for the season. Remember
that two or even three broods may be
raised. Wait several weeks after the
first brood has left the nest to insure
that it will not be used again that
bluebird nest is a cup-shaped and is
usually made up of 100% woven grass.
house sparrow nest is a thick
collection of grass, weeds and junk and
can fill the entire bluebird
signs of a house sparrow nest
take several seasons for bluebirds to
locate and select your nest boxes but your
patience will be well rewarded when you
find your first resident. Their sweet
calls and shimmering beauty are well worth