There are three species of bluebirds in North America, the Eastern Bluebird, Western Bluebird, and the Mountain Bluebird. The Eastern Bluebird is found east of the Rockies and range from Canada to Mexico and Honduras. The Western Bluebird is found west of the Rockies, from Canada to Mexico, the Mountain Bluebird is also found in the west, mostly at elevations above 7,000 feet. A group of bluebirds is called a flock and the average life span is six to ten years. They can reach speeds up to seventeen miles per hour in flight. A bluebird’s diet consists of small fruits, insects, and spiders. They hunt from above and swoop down to catch their prey.
Bluebirds are cavity nesters, which is part of the reason for their decline. Unlike woodpeckers, their beaks aren’t strong enough to make cavities in trees so they must find them in nature. They look for empty cavities that are safe, secure locations to raise their broods. Human development has removed many natural cavities these birds need. Once they’ve found an empty cavity they gather grass, pine needles, fur and twigs for their nest. Bluebirds are not assertive or aggressive which is why they have trouble keeping their homes. Often times they are evicted by house sparrows and European starlings, both invasive species. Due to the above reasons many people make their own bluebird boxes.
If you plan on making your own bluebird box keep the following factors in mind. They prefer houses that have natural colors such as tan, green, or grey, and prefer that they face wide open spaces. Bluebird houses should face east and be about six feet above ground. A snake guard is helpful and will also keep squirrels from messing with the house. Once a bluebird family has nested and moved on, clean out the house so that the next family will have a fresh start. Lastly, bluebirds love birdbaths and will appreciate a bath near the house. As always, to encourage our bird populations, garden with natives that support caterpillar species.