Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
March, 2001
Regional Report

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Place nesting boxes in your yard to help bluebirds feel welcome to stay in your garden.

Attracting Bluebirds

Bluebirds used to be common in our region. The mountain and western bluebirds are great friends to gardeners, eating insects while lighting up our surroundings with their incredibly deep turquoise blue coloring. But as more people have moved into this area, bluebird habitats have been destroyed and their population has taken a dive. Bluebirds will visit just about any place where there aren't a lot of people, and they like to nest in quiet, lightly wooded places near the edge of fields. Many of us who are lucky enough to live on the edge of town see the occasional bluebird, but there are ways to attract more of these garden-friendly, sweetly singing birds to your yard.

Encouraging Bluebirds

Bluebirds should be returning from their wintering grounds about now, and they need a place to set up housekeeping. While we're waiting for spring to start and may have some down time, why not encourage our feathered friends by building a bluebird nest box or two? Where these boxes have been set out, bluebird populations have increased dramatically. Just a short stroll in the woods will reward you with sightings of these beautiful birds one year after the boxes have been put up.

Building the Box

Make the nesting box out of cedar, redwood, or even plywood. Never install a perch. Sparrows and wrens like perches and will compete with bluebirds for boxes with them. Make the entrance hole exactly 1 9/16 inches in diameter. Western bluebirds pre fer a 1 1/2-inch- diameter hole but will use a 1 9/16-inch-diameter hole in areas where western and mountain bluebird ranges overlap.

Mounting the Box

Get boxes up early in March or April to catch the migrating birds as they return to our area. Mount the nesting boxes on a smooth pipe or tree trunk 5 to 6 feet high. This helps keep away critters that might steal an egg. Check and clean out your nesting boxes every spring before your birds come back to nest again.

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