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DIY Gold Standard Bluebird Nest Box Plan

This home-built traditional bird nesting box is suitable for many cavity nesting birds such as bluebirds, titmice, tree swallows, chickadees, and other species of similar size. In addition, the design can easily be scaled up to accommodate larger species of woodpeckers, flycatchers, small hawks, owls, and wood ducks. In many years of use, this design has proven to be a very welcoming and durable box. All of the parts required for the standard box can be cut from a single board of 1” x 6” material and 60 inches long.


Western Red Cedar (or other rot resistant wood) 1 x 6 x 60 inches

(Cypress, Sassafras, Walnut are good. In a pinch, even regular pine/fir stock can be used and will last many years if stained with exterior stain. Use a flat finish and neutral colors like gray, tan, cream, etc.)

1 tube of good exterior silicone caulk [optional]

24 (approx.) galvanized 6d 2” ring shank box nails

1-plated #8 X 1 ¼” FH wood screw


Claw hammer

Small hand saw

Small try square

Cordless drill

Phillips screwdriver

Small twist drill bits (3/32”, 1/8”, 1/4”, etc.)

1 ½” Hole saw (or Forstner bit, or spade tip bit)

Note: If the entrance hole is reduced to 1 inch and placed in a woodland setting, this box is attractive to chickadees and prevents the larger species from entering. This same size in a garden setting, will attract house wrens. A perch is not needed and encourages unwelcome alien species.

Some box builders, especially of the large wood duck box with 4 inch entrance hole, are concerned that baby ducklings will not be able to escape the interior of the box without some modification. I have seen all sorts of approaches including the construction of little ladders out of mini dowels, blocks attached to the inside below the entrance hole, saw cuts, etc. If you feel that is necessary, a few horizontal utility knife cuts below the hole on the interior surface will more than suffice.

[At one time I possessed a Federal Permit to raise wood ducks and learned quite quickly that the ducklings have needle sharp hooked claws and can amazingly scale smooth plywood, or even corrugated cardboard, as easily as a lineman scales a telegraph pole. They are difficult to confine. In the wild, I have found a wood duck nest in a large hollow limb that was more than three feet below the entrance hole and another in a hollow tree ten feet below the broken top. You can rest assured that those ducklings easily made it to freedom.]


Cut all pieces to the dimensions given.

Back: 5 ½ x 16 inches. Drill the upper and lower ¼” mounting holes at this time.

Sides (2): 5 ½ x 11 5/8 x 9 5/8 (squared at the bottom, front and rear edges different lengths to create the sloped roof line.)

Roof: 5 ½ x 7 ½ inches, one end of this piece should be beveled to match the side angle.

Rip (cut lengthways) the remaining 15 inch piece to 4 inch width. This will be the front and the floor.

Front: 4 inches x 10 inches - Drill a 1 ½ inch entrance hole centered 8 inches above the bottom of the front. (This can be done after the box is assembled if you wish.)

Floor: 4 inches x 4 5/8 inches (adjust, as necessary, for final fit).

Trim all four corners of the floor about 1/2 inch for drainage.

Mark and pre drill all 1/8” nail pilot holes as shown on the plan. Nail holes should be

perpendicular to the surface and 3/8” from the edges.


Mark a penciled reference line 2 inches up and parallel with the bottom of the back. This will aid in assembly.

Attach one side panel to either edge of the back being sure to keep the lower edge at the reference line.

It helps to have an assistant, or blue painters tape, for this step.

Attach the second side to the opposite edge; again lining up with the reference line and flush with the edges of the back.

(Optional) Run a ¼ inch bead of caulk along the beveled edge of the top. Place the top in position on the side panels and force firmly against the back to create a water resistant seal.

Nail the top into place using four nails through the predrilled pilot holes. The caulk can be smoothed out with a moistened finger. Install the floor. (Trim the floor slightly, if needed, to provide a perfect fit.)

Line up the front and install using two nails in the upper 1/8 inch holes.*Do not fully set these nails or you will not be able to lift the front for cleaning. The front will slightly overhang the floor.

Secure the front closed with a single screw into the lower hole. Remove this screw to clean the box.

If you haven't done it already, drill a 1 ½ inch entrance hole in the front 8" above the bottom edge.

Your Blue Bird Box is now complete!

I do not paint my boxes in any way, rather allow the wood to weather naturally. The birds seem to prefer them that way.

Boxes for bluebirds should be placed in an open area, away from large trees and shrubs. Grasslands, pasture lands, fence lines, open yards and gardens are ideal. I prefer to mount them on steel U-channel fence posts, using galvanized 1/4” round headed stove bolts, nuts, and flat washers, 5 to 8 feet above ground level. Generally, I slip a length of 2” PVC piping over the post to reduce climbing predators. The overhanging roof makes it resistant to blowing rains and helps prevent predators from reaching into the nest through the entrance hole. Boxes can also be mounted in pairs, back to back on the same post, or on individual posts facing in different directions. Bluebirds will defend their territory against another bluebird pair, but are content to nest alongside tree swallows and other species.


Our monthly 3rd Saturday "Running of the Mill" tours begin next week, on March 20th. 45 minute tours begin at 1:00, 2:00 & 3:00 pm. Tours are free for Delaware Nature Society members and $5 for all others. For now tours are still limited to six people. Please bring your mask.
To schedule a tour please call 302-422-0847 ext. 102


Next week:
Disaster, The Great ChesapeakePotomac Hurricane seriously damages the mill.
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