So you have put up the perfect bluebird house. What’s next? Careful monitoring of your nestbox is one of the most important things you can do to help your bluebird family survive; it’s a dangerous world out there! Believe it or not, the bluebirds are very tolerant of us, as long as we keep the visits brief and no more than once or twice a week. The North American Bluebird Society’s fact sheet on monitoring gives you all the information you need to be a confident and expert monitor. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Nestwatch is another wonderful resource. In fact, they depend on backyard monitors like you and me to provide them with desperately needed data.
Bluebirds will typically raise between 2 and 3 broods each year, and they will often re-use old nests. In fact, some research indicates that they are more likely to nest in a box with an existing nest. But because old nesting material can harbor bacteria and parasites, it’s best to remove the nests as soon as the juveniles have left the nest. While a sanitizing solution should be used at the end of the nesting season, all you need to do between broods is remove the nesting materials and give the interior of the house a good scrub with a stiff brush and if needed, a scrape or two with a putty knife to remove dried on waste. Be sure to dump the old materials far from the birdhouse so you don’t attract predators.
Bluebirders used to joke that their houses were occupied so quickly that it must be that bluebird houses generated the bluebirds. But don’t be discouraged if your nestboxes are not used right away. It could take a couple of seasons for them to start using your nestbox, but after that, bluebirds generally return to the same area each year. And you never know what amazing little songbirds will take up residence in the meantime! Please share your thoughts and experiences with us. We’d love to hear from you.