Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | February 27, 2014

Blue Birds On My Shoulder

Gene and I are avid bird watchers. One of our greatest birding joys we have here at The Small House is the joy of the nesting Eastern Blue bird.


Copyright free bluebird image taken from the Internet.

When we were first looking at this property we spotted blue birds roosting and flying in and out of a natural hole in a dead apple tree. We took this as a SIGN! In fact, we were so encouraged by this that the first thing we did after we moved into the Small House was to put up three blue bird houses scattered throughout our 5-acre property in the hopes to encourage them to nest here.

By the very next spring we had a pair of nesting blue birds in our box!


Copyright free bluebird image of a pair of Eastern Blue birds taken from the Internet.

For those of you who might not know the Eastern Blue bird, it is a much loved small thrush found in open woodlands, farmlands and orchards, and most recently can be spotted in suburban areas. They make the most delightful backyard tenants due to their gentle nature, beautiful coloring, sweet songs, and insect-controlling eating habits.


Grandpa Gene and grand daughter Brenna enjoying the newly hatched bluebird babies in our nest box.

We have had blue birds nesting in our boxes every year for the past 13 years-a Small House birding success story!
The population decline of eastern blue birds in the early 20th century was due to loss of habitat and competition for nesting sites from the aggressive house sparrow, a European species introduced to North America in the mid-1800s. This decline encouraged an interest in offering bluebird houses to help increase their populations.


Copyright free bluebird image taken from the Internet.

Since blue birds compete with house sparrows and European starlings for nesting spots, there are a couple of things you’ll need to keep in mind in order to offer a nest box that will deter these competitors. First of all, the nest box should be constructed of wood with 1-1/2″ entrance hole and no perch. This opening size should exclude starlings. House sparrows, however, will still be able to access through a 1-1/2″ entrance hole. To deter them, you will need to restrict the internal dimensions. Most pundits would agree that a nest box with cozy 4″ x 4″ inside floor dimensions is adequate for eastern blue birds (5″ x 5″ for mountain and western blue birds), while effectively deterring house sparrows. Bluebird nest box heights generally range from 8-12″ high. Make sure the house has drain holes. Clean the box at the beginning of the season and preferably after babies fledge to encourage multiple broods.

Place your blue bird house 5 to 6 feet off the ground. Ideally, it should be located on open land, not in a wooded area, although a few nearby trees are okay. Some landlords believe the nest box should be located within 50 feet of a tree, with door facing the tree, so fledglings will have a place to fly to and perch after their first flight attempts. This will help them avoid falling to the ground and becoming prey to predators. Another thing you need to know about attracting blue birds to nest is that there is a difference between nest spacing and nest pairing. Blue birds are competitive with each other, so they require nest spacing of at least 100 yards from each other. However, bluebird have been known to nest adjacent to swallows, so you can pair nest

I strongly encourage you to visit and like the North American Bluebird Society on Facebook. You will find lots of information and PDF’s on how to set up and manage a blue bird house (or trail).

The missions of the North American Bluebird Society shall be to engage in such educational, scientific and charitable pursuits as may be beneficial to the prosperity and well-being of the three species of blue birds and other native cavity-nesting birds.

General Information

NABS Hotline
12-3 pm EST Mon-Friday @ 812-988-1876
PO Box 7844
Bloomington, IN 47407

Small House / Big Sky Donna


  1. How pretty! I get bluebirds in my yard in the summer months but no birds stick around for very long – I have a cat hunter extraordinaire! Thank you for visiting today, we frugal girls need to stick together!! 🙂

    • Yes, cats do make a difference in the bird population. My neighbor “The Cat Lady” (whose has 10-15 cats!!) and I need to have a chat as her cats is coming over and killing the bird babies right in their nests. I have a dog but I do not let my dog onto her property so I expect the same consideration.

      Anyway I LOVE free shrubs, rocks, bark chips and garden art. What a bonus! My latest score was a metal gate a friend used with her dogs. It was on its way to Goodwill when I rescued it. It’s now an ornament in my garden!

  2. I can see why you love these little birds. They are beautiful!

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