How to build a bluebird house

Updated: 4 days ago

No nestbox or birdhouse is perfect, however, there are researched designs that are typically approved due to a design that promotes a safe nesting cycle for its residents.

Eastern Bluebird male

Building a birdhouse is a great activity for a cold, rainy, or snowy weekend. Here are some basic plans for a bluebird house that is approved by the North American Bluebird Society!


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Navigate to your needed information for building a bluebird house:



Bluebird house location


  • Place each nest box 300 feet apart

  • Place in an open area on a pole, not on a tree trunk

  • This prevents climbing predators from easily accessing the nest

  • The entrance hole needs to be at least 5 feet above the ground

  • Place in a location that is easily accessed by humans

  • Regular maintenance is necessary

  • Regular monitoring is necessary to prevent invasive species from using the box

  • Face the entry of the nestbox to the south or the east to prevent afternoon overheating

  • Face the entry away from prevailing winds (during the breeding season)



Bluebird house materials


  • DO use:

  • Solid wood between 3/4 and 1 inch in thickness can be used

  • Use a hardwood that does not have or require a chemical treatment


  • Do NOT use:

  • pressure-treated plywood

  • milk cartons

  • cardboard

  • metal

  • ceramic



  • One board 1" x 6" x 4' long

  • This will supply the floor, side, front, and back pieces

  • One board 1" x 10" x 12"

  • 20 - 1⅝ inch deck screws

  • 3 - 1¾ inch galvanized nails for the pivot points

  • A post of varied material (metal, wood, etc)



Bluebird house dimensions


  • Floor size

  • 4 x 5½ inches (Eastern Bluebirds) to

  • 5½ x 5½ inches (Western and Mountain Bluebirds)


  • Front size

  • 5½ x 10 inches


  • Back size

  • 5½ x 12 inches

  • If you make it longer than 12 inches, you will have an excess lip above or below your box for attaching to a post or pole


  • Side size (two)

  • Front length - 10 inches

  • Back length - 12 inches

  • Width - 5½ inches


  • Top size

  • Length - 12 inches

  • Width - 10 inches




Bluebird house assembly


Follow these steps, in order, to assemble the bluebird nestbox:


Wear your eye and respiratory protection devices!


Bluebird house drainage

  • Cut a small amount of the corners off the floor to allow for drainage


Bluebird house hole size

  • Cut a 1-9/16 inch entry hole in the front section for the bluebird house to accommodate for all bluebird species.

  • If you only have Eastern Bluebirds, you can use a 1½ inch hole

  • The hole needs to be 5½ inches from the bottom of the front board

  • Smooth the edges of the hole with sandpaper


  • Saw cuts (called kerfs) into the backside of the front board to make a ladder for the babies to fledge


Build the bluebird nestbox

  • Connect the bottom to the front, back, and ONE side

  • Recess the bottom board ¾ inch

  • Predrill the attachment points for the deck screws


  • Attach the second side to the front and back boards using the two galvanized nails

  • Predrill the slots in the front and back boards and into the 1-inch side of the sideboard. Insert the nails. These nails act as your pivots.

  • Use the third nail to act as the latch by drilling a hole in the front or back board and the 1-inch side of the side board.

  • Insert the nail to prevent the pivot until box maintenance is performed.


  • Drill ½ inch vent holes at an upward angle

  • If you are in a colder climate, do not add vent holes



  • Attach the roof

  • There should be a 2-inch overhang on each side, a small overhang of 2 inches, or less, over the back, and the remainder should be over the front board


  • Attach your box to a firm location

  • Some bluebird lovers place them on large fence posts, T-posts, or metal conduit

  • Regardless of material, the post needs to be firm against the strongest of winds


Want to see diagrams for this project? Check out the updated bluebird nestbox recommendations from NABS! You can also check out the plans offered by NestWatch from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


The joy provided by a bluebird house, a bluebird nest and eggs! Photo: USFWS


Bluebird house hole sizes


Eastern Bluebird hole size


  • For Eastern Bluebirds, use a 1½ inch round hole

  • If you get multiple bluebird species, use the larger opening (see below)


Western Bluebird & Mountain Bluebird hole sizes

  • For Western Bluebirds and Mountain Bluebirds, use a 1-9/16 inch opening

  • If you get multiple bluebird species, use the larger opening



How to protect a bluebird house


There are multiple ways to deter climbing and other predators from a bluebird box:

  • Do not use a perch

  • This deters House Sparrows and other birds

  • Install a slick or unstable baffle

  • Wax the pole (if metal)

  • Use a cone


You can remove the nests and eggs of invasive species like House Sparrows. However, disturbing the nest of a native species, even if it is not what you want in the birdhouse, is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and could subject you to fines. Brown-headed Cowbirds are a native species and removing an egg from that species is still a violation.




Bluebird house maintenance


Here are some helpful tips to for continuing a good condition of your bluebird nestbox:


  • Clean the nestbox after EACH brood has left

  • Check for water leaks

  • Repair or replace rotted wood

  • Check the entrance hole to ensure the size has not changed


Want to purchase a bluebird house?


Purchasing a bluebird house can be a tricky situation. Most bluebird nestboxes are made to accommodate Eastern Bluebirds, so if you experience a different species, it will not be conducive to those species. Also, cheap wood and screws are often used. If you decide to go the purchasing route, try to find a box that fits the recommendations above. "Predator guards" and "extra features" are a waste of money. Do not fall for those sales tricks.


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Remember there are no perfect boxes, but here is a seller on Amazon that will adjust your house to your specifications: Cedarnest Bluebird Houses.



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