Putting up a house, or better yet being part of a blue trail, can be a very enjoyable activity for both adults and children plus it can be a great family activity. And it can help meet an important need for proper housing for bluebirds but it is important to do it correctly.
First, it is important to learn from established organizations and sources what to do (ie, providing safe houses), how to do (ie, monitoring) and what not to do (ie, don’t encourage predators) in providing bluebird houses. One of the best known is the North American Bluebird Society. They have a lot of information available at no charge on their website including their excellent fact sheet ‘Getting Started with Bluebirds’. They have affiliate groups in some states that can provide more localized information (such as when they start nesting)
A good thing to do if you are going to put up a bluebird box is to register it with the ‘Nest Watch’ program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology collaboration with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and funded by the National Science Foundation. (actually you can register your other nest sites there too). “NestWatch aims to provide a unified nest-monitoring scheme to track reproductive success for all North American breeding birds.” It doesn’t cost anything and you register then enter your data online–how cool is that, another way to make your birds count!
If you already are a bluebird box ‘landlord’ be sure your boxes are clean and ready for the bluebird ‘tenants’ to occupy them this spring. If you didn’t clean the boxes by the end of last year’s nesting season (best to do it then), the Sialis.org website has instructions on how to do it so it in a way that is safe for you and so it will be safe for new baby bluebirds. By the way, ‘sialis’ is the scientific name for the family of bluebirds and the Sialis.org website also has a lot of good information about bluebirds as well as other bird specie that nest in cavities.
In addition to the enjoyment it’s brings to install and maintain bluebird houses, they are very important because bluebirds have suffered population declines due to lost habitat as a result of a combination of factors: many trees in which they nested have been cut down as forests were cleared for cities and farms; even wood fence posts where they could nest have been replaced by metal posts; the introduction of House Sparrows and possibly Starlings, aggressive species that take over nest sites that had been used by bluebirds and other native cavity nesting birds; and possibly other factors that impact food availability.
If you want to build your own bluebird houses for Eastern, Western or Mountain Bluebirds there are a number of plans available (only those designed for bluebirds, please).