The first scouts of our bluebird population arrive in early spring. If you have a wide expanse of grassy land, free of trees, near your home, early February is the time to set up bluebird boxes for the spring. Don’t forget that bluebirds are exacting in their nest box preferences. You can build your own or purchase one at a hardware store. To frustrate snakes and raccoons, mount your box on a metal pipe 5 feet or higher above the ground. Plan on visiting the birdhouse once a week during the spring to see if house sparrows have set up housekeeping. Their nests should be removed.
Georganne Smalz, owner of Birding Adventures Inc., says bluebird houses need to be in place by Feb. 14. If you have a small landscape, she suggests trying to attract screech owls instead of bluebirds. Owl boxes can be mounted on a tall tree at the edge of a lawn and will help control mice and voles in your garden. The interior of a screech owl box should be 8 by 8 inches and 15 inches tall. They prefer an entrance hole 3 inches in diameter. Boxes should be up by March 1.
Excellent plans for different types of bluebird houses (and a screech owl box) can be found at Bluebirds Across Nebraska’s website.