How to Build a Bluebird House: Nest Box Plans

Updated on April 2, 2019
Anthony Altorenna profile image

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, the kitchen, the garden and out fishing. Many of his projects are featured in his yard.

A simple, easy to make and effective bluebird birdhouse
A simple, easy to make and effective bluebird birdhouse | Source

Bluebirds are as beneficial as they are beautiful: they prey on large numbers of moths, caterpillars, crickets, and other bugs. The bluebirds visiting in our yard often perch on a tall garden post and on the roof the nest box, then swoop across the yard to snatch a flying insect from the air. Because they are cavity nesters, bluebirds look for abandoned woodpecker holes and other natural crevices to build their nesting sites.

They prefer open fields but as farmland gives way to urban sprawl, these beautiful birds have an increasingly difficult time finding suitable, natural tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes for raising their young. They also suffer from competition with the larger starlings and sparrows, who will drive the smaller bluebirds away from potential nesting sites.

Fortunately, bluebirds can be attracted to backyards where they will nest in birdhouses built to proper specifications. This house is a simple and inexpensive project to build and can be made from pine, cedar, or redwood boards that are commonly available at home centers and lumber yards. The entrance hole for eastern bluebirds is 1-1/2" in diameter, letting the bluebirds in but keeping out the larger starlings. If you're building a nest box for western or mountain bluebirds, the entrance hole should be increased to 1-9/16" in diameter.

The Cutting List:


Cut a pine, cedar, or redwood board into the following parts:

  • Front (part A): 5" W x 9-1/2" L
  • Back (part B): 13-1/2" W x 5" L
  • Sides (part C): 10-1/2" W x 4" L (Qty =2)
  • Roof (part D): 7-1/2" W x 7-1/2" L
  • Bottom (part E): 4" W x 4" L
  • Entrance guard (Part F): 3" W x 3" L

This basic nest box is easy to build. The bluebird house plans (below) show how the pieces fit together.

Step #1: Lay Out the Pieces

  1. The top edge of the sides (part C) are cut at a 22-degree angle to create the slope for attaching the oversized roof.
    • To determine the angle of the cut, measure up 10-1/2" from one end and make a mark.
    • From the same end, measure 9" up on the other side of the board and make another mark.
    • Use a ruler or straight edge to draw a line to connect the marks. Cut along the line to create an angled side piece.
  2. The sides are shorter than the front section (part A). When aligned to the bottom edges and joined together, the shorter sides create a small gap under the roof line for air circulation and ventilation.
  3. Lay out and the drill the 1-1/2" entrance hole in the front (part A). Measure up 6" from the bottom edge, centering the entrance hole across the width of the front section. Use a Forstner bit, hole saw, or paddle bit to drill the entrance hole.
  4. Cut a 22-degree bevel across the top of the front section (part A) to match the slope of the roof and sides. Position the front section against one of the side pieces to test the fit. If the front piece is a bit too long, mark and cut the bottom of the front so that its bottom edge is flush with the bottom edges of the sides.
  5. Clip off each corner of the bottom section (part E) at a 45-degree angle, creating a gap for drainage gap.

Here are the birdhouse plans.
Here are the birdhouse plans. | Source
Nest box plans: Side view
Nest box plans: Side view | Source

Step #2: Assemble the Nest Box

  1. Attach the front (part A) to one side piece (part C) using weather-resistant screws or nails. This is the fixed side while the other side is hinged to allow access to the finished nest box for periodic cleaning.
  2. Attach the bottom (part E) to the sub-assembly.
  3. Line up the remaining side (part C) with the bottom of the front (part A).
  4. To create a hinge, secure the side section to the front assembly with one nail or screw driven into edge approximately 1-1/2" down from the top.

Use a woodworking square to align the pivot point locations
Use a woodworking square to align the pivot point locations | Source

Step #3: Ensure Easy Access

  1. Position the partially assembled bluebird house box to the back (part B), leaving 1/2" space above the side pieces.
  2. Secure the back section to the fixed side piece with nails or screws.
  3. Then, create the hinged side by driving one nail or screw one through the back (part B) to form a pivot point. Position the hinge screws in the front and back sections directly across from each other, enabling the door to open easily (refer to the side view drawing). I used a small woodworking square to align the pivot points for hinge directly across each other.
  4. To keep the door closed, drill and countersink a screw hole along the center of the bottom edge of the pivoting side section. A single short screw will secure the door to the floor, yet removing the screw allows easy access for cleaning.
  5. Attach the oversized roof to the back and front sections. The large roof creates overhangs along the front and both sides to protect the nest box from rain.
  6. Drill a 1-1/2" hole through the center of the entrance guard (part F). Round over the edges with sandpaper, or use a round over bit to create a finished edge. Mount the entrance guard on a bias to create a diamond shape.
  7. Mount the finished bluebird nest box between 5' to 10' above the ground and facing out towards an open field or grassy area. Use the entrance hole to center and drive a mounting screw through the back section. I purchased a 6" long Philips head bit for my portable drill to reach through the entrance hole and drive a screw through the back piece and into a post or tree. Drive a second screw through the lower section of the back below the nesting box to secure the nest box.

I made this bluebird house several years ago. The pine was left natural and has weathered to silvery-gray color.
I made this bluebird house several years ago. The pine was left natural and has weathered to silvery-gray color. | Source

Why Is the Size of Entrance Hole so Important?

The exact size of the entrance hole into the bluebird nest box is very important. The entrance hole must be large enough for the bluebird to enter, yet small enough to keep out the larger sparrows and starlings.

  • Eastern Bluebirds fit comfortably through a 1-1/2" entrance hole.
  • In areas with Mountain Bluebirds, increase the size of the entrance hole to 1-9/16" in diameter.
  • Western Bluebirds will use either size, though some bird watchers report a higher success rate when using the 1-9/16" diameter entrance hole to the nesting box.
  • Do not use nest boxes with a 1-5/8" entrance hole, which is large enough for starlings to enter.

Have you seen a Bluebird in your yard?

See results
Eastern Bluebirds are welcome visitors to our yard
Eastern Bluebirds are welcome visitors to our yard | Source

How Do I Attract Bluebirds to My Garden?

Bird watchers and gardeners try to attract bluebirds into their yards, both for their beauty and for the beneficial role they play in eating many different types of insects.

Bluebirds inhabit open spaces in rural areas, and they are often found near fields, pastures, and in open areas at the edge of woodlands. They can also be enticed to visit gardens that cater to their basic needs while providing an environment that makes them feel safe and secure.

Our garden strives to provide the four essential requirements for bluebirds and other feathered visitors: food, shelter, water, and nesting areas. Plants include a mixture of native and cultivated perennials and shrubs, planted along and under the mature oak trees where the birds can find berries and hunt for bugs.

What Do Bluebirds Eat?

Bluebirds eat grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, moths, and other insects

Birds Choice Bluebird Mealworm Feeder
Birds Choice Bluebird Mealworm Feeder
Bluebirds love eating mealworms, and this specialized feeder is equipped with entrance holes that are just the right size to let bluebirds in but keeps larger birds out. The bluebirds can eat in peace!

Fun Facts on Bluebirds

  • There are three species of bluebirds in North America: the Eastern, the Western, and the Mountain Bluebirds.
  • Bluebirds eat mostly bugs and berries, and they are typically not interested in bird feeders filled with birdseed.
  • Bluebirds like mealworms and will visit feeders filled with live or freeze-dried mealworms.
  • Eastern bluebirds can have up to three broods per season.
  • Bluebird eggs are pale blue in color.
  • In winter, several bluebirds will often roost together in a bluebird house for warmth.
  • Bluebird populations suffered and declined in the 1960s but rebounded with help from concerned birdwatchers. The North American Bluebird Society was formed to encourage and instruct people to build and hang bluebird houses.

Baby Bluebird Hatching In A Nest Box

Peterson's Slant Front Bluebird House

This slant-front bluebird house is a bit more challenging to build than the basic nesting box, but the interesting design is worth the effort. Bluebirds like this nest box too, and they will readily move in to raise their brood. This article shows how I built this bluebird nest box, including diagrams, photos, and step-by-step instructions.

DIY Peterson Bluebird Nest Box Plans
DIY Peterson Bluebird Nest Box Plans | Source

Folk Art Bluebird Houses

These birdhouses are built to the specifications preferred by the Eastern Bluebird. A bit of whimsy, a shaped entrance guard, a little paint, and a few repurposed items transform a basic nest box into an interesting piece of folk art that looks great in the garden.

Peaked Roof Bluebird Houses
Peaked Roof Bluebird Houses | Source
Here are some of our backyard birdhouses.
Here are some of our backyard birdhouses. | Source

Questions & Answers

© 2011 Anthony Altorenna

Tell Us About Your Bluebird Birdhouses

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Anthony Altorenna profile imageAUTHOR

      Anthony Altorenna 

      14 months ago from Connecticut

      Thank you for visiting, and for taking the time to point out the typo with the dimensions. Most of the pieces can be cut from a piece of 1x6 lumber (5-1/2" wide), however the oversized roof needs a wider piece (7-1/2" wide). I hope this helps to make building this bluebird house a fun and successful project.

    • profile image


      14 months ago


      Just getting ready to make a couple of your bluebird houses using your plans.My question what board did you use to make the roof ?

    • Anthony Altorenna profile imageAUTHOR

      Anthony Altorenna 

      5 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I've used several different types of wood to including cedar, redwood and pine to build birdhouses. The birdhouses made from pine last several years; the pine bluebird house in the second photo has been outdoors for at least five seasons (maybe more). It has weathered to a silvery-gray and is still structurally intact. The key is making pine birdhouses that last include the overhanging roofline, drainage holes in the floor and gaps under the roof that allows rainwater to drain while creating good air circulation to help dry out the interior of the birdhouse. Staining or painting the outside further protects the wood from the elements. While the pine won't last forever, pine is inexpensive, readily available and birdhouses are fun to make. When the wood finally decays, I just build another birdhouse!

    • profile image

      Woodn't yah know 

      5 years ago

      According to the above list of the types of wood to use for the birdhouses, wouldn't pine dry out, crack, rot, and fall apart under wet conditions in just a few years?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These are clear and easy to understand plans for building a bluebird house. The already made bluebird houses are great too. We rarely see them.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      8 years ago

      We only see blue thrush jays in our Los Angeles garden. The beautiful bluebird continues to elude us.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      I had two pairs of bluebirds arrive this week. They have been house hunting (checking out my two nesting boxes). I'm making a third bluebird house today. I need to modify one that is designed for Eastern bluebirds. My Mountain bluebirds need a slightly larger interior and entry hole. Thanks again for the plans.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ah, the magical bluebird! We have seen just a handful of them as they come to visit. I never realized that you had to build a special house for the bluebird.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Another well presented DIY on making a Bluebird house, the birds of the world thank you for teaching others how to make a house a home for them!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)