Forestry & Wildlife
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Eastern bluebirds are one of Alabama’s most prized year-round residents. Their blue color adds excitement and beauty to any backyard.
Many may not know that the bright blue color associated with bluebirds is only featured on males. While the females do have a blue color, it is a much duller version of the male’s bright color. By having bluebird houses around their home, people can see for themselves this color difference and the many other beautiful things associated with these birds.
Creating a Home
Roosevelt Robinson, an Alabama Extension forestry, wildlife and natural resources regional agent, said these birdhouses are not only enjoyable for people, they also provide much needed shelter for bluebirds.
“Man-made nest boxes provide needed nesting sites for bluebirds that otherwise may not be able to locate suitable sites,” Robinson said.
Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, but they cannot excavate cavities themselves. Due to the decreasing number of natural cavities, bluebirds increasingly rely on these human-made homes.
Purchase or Build?
Whether purchasing online or in a store, there are several options for bluebird houses. Some houses may even come pre-cut and pre-drilled. Look for ones that have movable or hinged panels. This make them easy to clean between nesting seasons without weakening the structure of the bird house itself.
People can also build a bluebird house themselves. There are many plans available to choose from. The Alabama Extension publication, Bird Houses for Songbirds is a great resource for building bluebird and other songbird houses.
Location, Location, Location
There are several things that people must keep in mind when placing bluebird houses.
“Ideally, the best places for bluebird houses are open areas, preferably scattered with a few trees or near the edge of a forest,” Robinson said.
If there is not an opening like that in the yard, make sure the opening of the bird house faces east and looks out onto an open area. It is best to mount a house 4 to 6 feet above ground on a free-standing metal pole or PVC pipe. This can make it difficult for most predators to climb. For people who plan to install multiple houses, they should place them 100 to 300 feet apart. Birds are territorial and do not appreciate others too close by.
Benefits of Birdhouses
Backyard bird watching can provide hours of entertainment and education. It can also serve as a hobby to relieve stress and promote well-being.
“Backyard birding gives homeowners a great opportunity to study local wildlife,” Robinson said. “It also gives them the chance to see courtship behavior, migration, nesting and seasonal plumage changes in the birds.”
In addition to their beauty, birds are also beneficial in other ways. Many birds eat a variety of pesky insects such as mosquitoes, slugs, spiders and others that might not be welcome. They will often also eat weed seeds.
For more information on birdhouses or other bird related topics, visit www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.