Pick Your Perch

Western bluebirds are fairly picky about the locations of their homes. They enjoy open spaces with plenty of perch sites like fences, wires, or tree branches as well short grass that makes it easy to catch insects on the ground. A spacious backyard with mowed grass or sparse ground cover and scattered trees would provide an ideal habitat, but avoid more heavily wooded areas: They are the domain of the House Wren, which is another big competitor.

Mounting the birdhouse house about five feet above the ground on a free-standing wooden post or pipe works best—any smooth, round scrap pipe or metal electrical conduit will do, especially if you coat it with wax or grease to keep predators away. Fence lines can make birdhouses vulnerable to roving raccoons, so try to avoid these types of thoroughfares.

Make it a Home

Feel free to embellish your birdhouse however you like it—it’s as much a decorative flourish in your backyard as it is a potential home for birds. Hand painting or staining your box can make for a really nice accent. Most paint or stain will be ok: they are generally not toxic to birds. But be careful to avoid dark colors, especially in summer months when a box could overheat. If you do choose to paint or stain, however, leave the inner walls natural. Get creative; transform your traditional birdhouse into a rustic minimalist haven or an avian palace. And most importantly, don’t be discouraged if your birdhouse isn’t immediately inhabited. Give it some time. Even if bluebirds don’t arrive in hordes, other native cavity-nesters like Tree Swallows, Violet-green Swallows or Black-capped Chickadees may also be looking for a place to call home, and may very well find it in your backyard.