Native bluebirds need our help building specialized houses that keep out aggressive, invasive species
Once an icon of the eastern United States, many of us youngsters have never seen a bluebird in the wild.
Like most wild birds, they face pesticide poisoning and severe habitat loss to humans. And humans aren’t the only invasive species bluebirds have to contend with.
Since the late 1800s they’ve been pushed out of their ever-shrinking living quarters by two aggressive European species — the English sparrow and the starling.
Without human help (undoing the damage we’ve caused) the species is in grave danger, says The American Bird Conservancy.
The main thing we can do for our beloved little song birds is build them houses with doors small enough that their competitors can’t get in — about an inch and a half in diameter – and by positioning them low to the ground.
In nature, bluebirds search for cavities in decaying wood to nest in. So do sparrows and starlings, who are much more aggressive than bluebirds, taking over their nests by puncturing eggs, killing nestlings, and sometimes killing timid adult bluebirds.
As more and more land is cleared for urban development, this competition becomes even more fierce.
A 1.5 inch entry to a bird house is just big enough for a bluebird but too small for the larger starlings to squeeze through, according to Mother Earth News.
Positioning the bird house relatively low to the ground, 3-5 feet in the air should keep the sparrows away, who prefer higher nests.
If sparrows do take up residence in your bluebird house, it’s best to evict them before their eyes are laid.
Making the front panel angled inward at the bottom, and/or adding a ramp to the exit on the inside helps baby birds make their way out of the nest when they are ready to test their wings.
Bluebird houses should be placed at least 100 yards apart from each other, or 3 per acre. They are great for keeping pesky insects out of your garden.
For far more detailed instructions on bluebird home construction check out this article on MotherEarthNews.com.
Or you can always buy one on Amazon if you’re not that handy.