Building Your Bluebird Box

Building this basic bluebird box can be accomplished without many tools or skills and for very little expense. Box building can be a fun family project. It is also a good project for 4-H groups, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, senior citizens, etc. Below are a few tips and ideas.

  • Never use treated lumber. The chemical in the wood can be toxic to both you and the bluebirds.
  • Cedar and Redwood are ideal. They are long-lasting and require no paint or wood preservative.
  • Pine, Douglas Fir, Cypress, and exterior plywood also work well. Painting is recommended and will add years of life to the box.
  • Do not use a dark color as it may cause the box to overheat.
  • Light, it shades of gray, green or tan will fit in with natural surroundings and will make your box less conspicuous.
  • Two coats of paint are recommended for dry roofs as it is the part of the box that is most exposed to the elements.
  • Wood preservatives may be used on the exterior of the box only.
  • Do not paint the inside of the box.

This box can be built without actually buying any lumber. There is free lumber available if you know where to look.

  • Lumberyards – Most lumberyards have piles of scrap lumber, i.e.. warped, too short to sell. Let them know what you’ re using the lumber for – discounts may be given. The lumberyard may receive a tax credit if a donation is made.
  • Construction sites – Scrap lumber is often thrown in a pile or dumpster. With permission, most builders will be glad to give you the lumber.
  • Packing crates are usually made from I x or 2x material. Disassembly will be required.
  • Circular or table saw; hammer; drill; 1 « or 19/16″ hole cutter.
  • The nails holding die roof on will work loose in time. Use a specialty nail such as a ring shank, spiraled nail, or wood screw.
  • Galvanized nails are recommended.
  • Be safety conscious when building your boxes.
  • The hole for the double-head nail on the door should be oversized. Humidity and rain will cause the hole to swell shut and you will not be able to remove the nail.
  • Use a wood screw rather than a double-headed nail to hold the door closed in areas where you might expect human interference.
  • Roughen the inside and outside of the door below die entrance hole if plain lumber is used. This makes it easier for the nestlings to leave the box and helps the parents grip the exterior when feeding the young.

A box may be placed on a wooden fence post or fence line if there are no raccoons or cats in your area. A smooth, round pipe cut to approximately 8 foot works well and help keep predators off your box.

  • Scrap pipe may be found at construction sites and salvage yards.
  • Well-diggers frequently discard 21′ pieces of pipe.
  • Scrap piles at overhead garage door companies will contain either 8’or 16′ lengths of pipe.
  • A 10′ piece of 3/4″ electrical EMT conduit is inexpensive and can be cut down to approximately 8′.
  • Flattening the end of the round pipe with a heavy hammer will keep it from turning in the ground.
  • Metal t-posts are often used, but can be easily climbed by raccoons or cats.
  • Many bird stores now carry mounting systems for bird boxes.
  • Using a fence post driver rather than a heavy hammer to drive the pole into the ground may save a skinned knuckle.