DIY: Build a Bluebird Box

Photograph by Jeff Hutchens

DIY: Build a Bluebird Box

With a few tools and materials, you can make a home for bluebirds in your backyard. 

By Jesse Grantham
Published: 06/29/2012

Warren H. Lauder, who spent 38 years analyzing bluebird boxes, created the design for this bluebird box.

Tools

Handsaw

Tape measure or ruler

Drill

Chisel or knife

Hammer

Screwdriver

Materials
You can use any type of wood, but it should be 3/4-inch thick and unpainted/unfinished. White pine is a good choice because it is easy to obtain. Do not use particleboard or plywood.

One 11-inch piece of 1x12-inch wood (for the roof)

One 23-inch piece of 1x8-inch wood, trimmed to 61/2 inches (for the sides)

One 32-inch piece of 1x6-inch wood, trimmed to 5 inches (for the front and back) Carpenter's glue

16 seven-penny (7d) galvanized box nails or 2-inch deck screws

1 brass 11/4-inch wood screw or 2-inch deck screw

Small tube of caulking compound

1 asphalt roof shingle

8 3/4-inch roofing nails


Instructions for assembling the box

Cut the top piece of the nest box, 11 1/4" x 11".

Cut the two side pieces. They should be 6 1/2" across; the rear edge should be 12 1/4" top to bottom, and the front edge, 10 3/4". Drill 5/8" vent holes 1" down from the top and 2" in from each side. Toward the top of the front edge, and 3/8" in, drill a 1/8" hole for a nail or a screw.

Cut the front of the box, 5" wide and 10 3/4" long, with an entrance hole (a 1 1/2" hole for eastern bluebirds or western bluebirds, and 1 9/16" hole where ranges for the two overlap with mountain bluebirds) whose center is 2" from the top and 2 1/2" from each side. Using the chisel, cut deep crisscross scratches on the inside of the front panel. These will allow young birds to climb to the entrance hole and emerge.

Cut the bottom, 5" square, with a 3/8" vent hole at its center. Cut each corner at a 45 degree angle, 3/4" in (to form an octagon).

Cut the back, 5" across and 15" long.

Glue and nail the side pieces to the back. The sides should be nailed flush, and the top of each side should align with the top of the back. The roofline should slope toward the front of the birdhouse.

Glue and nail on the bottom of the birdhouse, recessing it 1/2" from the bottom of the side pieces.

Attach the front of the birdhouse with two nails, through the 1/8" holes drilled earlier, near the top of the side pieces. (This will allow the front to swing open for cleaning.) Put the brass screw into the bottom to secure the front. Leave a gap of 1/2" at the top of the front for ventilation.

Glue and nail the roof on, leaving a 2 3/8" overhang to the sides and a 3 3/4" overhang on the front. Seal the crack at the top rear of the birdhouse with caulking compound to keep the rain out.

Cover the roof with the asphalt shingle, using 3/4" roofing nails; the shingle should extend 1/4 " over each side.

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Comments

I have a major problem with

I have a major problem with sparrows invading the blue bird boxes. They wait until the bluebirds have laid their eggs and then they take over the nest. anyway to discourage the sparrows? Thanks! Frozen in Ohio!

Pole

What about the post and baffle? What kind of pole, how do you make and attach the baffle and box to the pole?

birdhouse

If you don't have Bluebirds in your yard...would any other type of bird use it?

Other Birds

I asked field editor Kenn Kaufman, and he said that around farmyard and suburbs in particular, house sparrows really like to use bluebird boxes (in fact, that's one of the issue with putting them up, he says). "Tree swallows also find bluebird boxes perfectly to their liking," he writes, "and various other cavity-nesting birds will use them as well." Thanks for your question, Donna!

DIY Bluebird Box

The Virginia Bluebird Society has plans for building nest boxes with predator guards at virginiabluebirds.org.

Building a better bluebird box.

I have been building bluebird boxes for Idaho Fish and game for about 14 years. They are used by mountain and western bluebirds as well as other species native to the bluebird habitat.
My boxes are uniform in size. Backs are 15 inches long, sides, front and top are 9 inches long. I use six inch cedar lumber (easily available here in Idaho). I cut the front entrance hole 1 3/8" with a hole saw in a drill press. On the inside of the front I staple a piece of course plastic screen about 2 X 3 inches for traction for young to exit. I assemble the parts with wood screws predrilled and countersunk. The only nails I use are on the top of the left hand panel which serves a door used for cleaning of the box. I drill a hole in the lower front corner to accomidate a scaffold nail which secures the door and is easy to remove for cleaning. The top has no slope which makes for easier assembly and the birds don't seem to care. In some of their natural nests they utilize tree stumps which are open on the top.

Blue Bird House

It would be simpler to build the bird house with a diagram, also I do not see any reference to the hole size entrance.

To Anthony Gungui

please contact me to my email: gunguigraziano@tiscali.it we could be family related.....thx

Blue Bird House Reply

Thanks for the comment, Anthony. You can find the diagram in the second story slide or in the text of the piece. And we just added information about how large the entrance hole should be. We appreciate your input!

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