Bluebirds are one of North America's most beloved birds, and one of many songbirds that have suffered declining populations. Bluebird numbers continue to decrease due to several reasons, including:
- Urbanization of America
- Removal of dead trees
- Use of pesticides in orchards
- Trends in vinyl and metal fencing instead of wood
- Introduction of aggressive Starlings and Sparrows into the US
Each factor listed above has a direct impact on the bluebirds ability to find a nesting environment for their young. Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, which means they are incapable of creating their own cavities for dwelling. Without the natural cavities found in trees, and without the proper precautions to keep bluebird houses free of attacks, bluebirds can not survive without our help.
Bluebird Houses need to offer the following:
Specific hole opening dimensions:
- Eastern Bluebirds: 1-1/2" - 1-3/8" at the largest
- Western and Mountain Bluebirds: 1-9/16"
- Overhangs for shade and protection from cats and raccoons
- Light in color for hot temperatures
- Wood construction, with plywood and cedar being best
- Drainage holes: ventilation and drainage are key to survival, especially for the young
- Grippers, not perches: grippers at hole openings help prevent nestlings from falling when they take their first steps out of the bird house. Perches encourage sparrows and predators to get closer.
- Additional houses - space 100-300 yards apart when creating a bluebird trail because bluebirds are territorial.
- Keep sparrows away by adding a second bluebird house either back to back or within 5 feet of the original bluebird house. This will often lead to each species of bird nesting at peace within their own house.
Eastern Bluebird Facts
- Rocky Mountain region
- The most likely to head South for the winter, with heavy snow and freezing ice storms covering most of their winter food supplies
- Small in size, the male's head, back, wings and tail are bright blue, and the breast, throat and sides are rusty. Females are similar in appearance, but duller and more gray in color.
Western and Mountain Bluebird Facts
- Regions overlap, so Western and Mountain Bluebirds can often be found nesting on the same trails
- Western Bluebird lives in the western parts of North America, and the Mountain Bluebirds lives primarily in the Rocky Mountain region
- The Mountain Bluebird likes high elevations but can be found at low elevations
- Mountain Bluebird: The male is almost completely blue with the exception of a white belly, and the female is mostly gray with a touch of blue in her tail feathers and wings
- Western Bluebird: The male's head, back, wings, throat and tail are bright blue, and a rusty underside spreads from the breast and sides to the upper back. Females are duller and more gray in color.
Bluebirds are insectivores, and will eat insects, worms, small spiders, grasshoppers, and crickets. Wildlife such as poison ivy, mistletoe, pokeweed, and berry bushes are the less preferred food for bluebirds, but they will use these to survive when insects are not available. Bluebirds will also eat raisins soaked in water, and mealworms. If you would like to offer food for your bluebirds, in addition to planting trees and shrubs that bear fruit, Platform Bird Feeders are a good option. Bluebirds will feed off platforms, and also like to eat off the ground.