Skip to main content

Bluebirds ~ Pictures of Bluebirds~Bluebird Houses~Attracting Bluebirds

Favorite pictures of bluebirds

The male bluebird guards his territory from a nearby branch.

The male bluebird guards his territory from a nearby branch.

The bluebirds will stake out their box and defend it from intruders.

The bluebirds will stake out their box and defend it from intruders.

Bluebirds Choose a Home

Eastern Bluebirds were already investigating the bluebird houses on the edge of our lawn when we returned from our winter travels in March. Two bluebird houses, placed two years ago in hopes of attracting bluebirds, are easily seen from our patio and kitchen windows, and we enjoyed watching and photographing a pair of bluebirds as they inspect both houses before deciding on their residence. The male Bluebird sits on the post above the house and chirps instructions while the female goes into the house and back out again several times. Sometimes she carries a piece of grass into one of the boxes. Then she’ll look over the other empty bluebird box again checking out the interior. It made us laugh to see the female carry a few pieces of grass into the second box, too, as it seemed she couldn't make up her mind on which was the better bluebird house.

Backyard Bluebirds Nesting

Having a nesting pair of bluebirds so close to our house is different from birdwatching in the field as it gives us the opportunity to closely observe their daily activities while they build their nest and raise their young. I keep binoculars, camera and tripod, necessary birdwatching equipment, by the widow so that I can more closely observe them and, if I'm lucky, snap a good picture of the bluebirds. Sometimes they would pose on top of the bluebird house or in nearby branches as if to say, "Take my picture!" So I did!

Bluebird Habitat

Bluebirds like to live near open areas like meadows, agricultural fields, fence rows, suburban parks and golf courses that have some old trees or patchy vegetation around them. In natural areas, bluebirds will nest in old woodpecker holes in dead pine or oak trees, sometimes as much as 50 feet off the ground. A pair of bluebirds will claim two or three acres of territory. Because they like to be at least one hundred yards from other bluebird nests, you'll seldom see two pairs of bluebirds nesting close together.

Male Bluebird

Male bluebird ready to feed the young ones.

Male bluebird ready to feed the young ones.

Bluebird House Hunting ~ Location, Location, Location!

The Male Bluebird Finds the Bluebird House

Typically, the male bluebird will find a suitable nesting hole and perch on top of it fluttering his wings to attract the female. He’ll take a few pieces of nesting material and go in and out of the hole as if to say, “Look, it’s a great house!” When the female enters the nest box with him, it usually means that she has accepted the site and that they will begin nesting.

Once the female is satisfied with the location of the nest box, she does the remainder of the nest building while the male guards the territory from his perch on top of the house or from nearby trees or bushes. Bluebird nesting materials will include grasses, and pine needles, but may also include feathers or hair loosely woven into the nest.

Our bluebird box is about twenty feet from a small mimosa tree, and the male loves to sit there watching over his territory. With excellent eyesight, he can spot insects and grubs on the ground and will swoop down occasionally to catch a tasty morsel for himself or to feed his mate.

Picture of female bluebird peeking out of the nesting box

The female bluebird will sometimes peek out of the box while she is tending her eggs, perhaps hoping that her mate will deliver a tasty snack.

The female bluebird will sometimes peek out of the box while she is tending her eggs, perhaps hoping that her mate will deliver a tasty snack.

Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird Start a Family

Because their nest box is so easily seen from our patio and kitchen windows, we are able to watch the bluebirds' behavior as they build a nest and begin their family. When we built and set out two boxes, we put them at the edge of our lawn near a field that is cut infrequently. Of the two boxes, the birds seem to like the one farther away from the tall trees and seem to like the proximity of a small mimosa tree that they can use as a lookout perch. Often in an afternoon, they will come to the our birdbath to drink and bathe.

Bluebirds Build Their Nest in Our Bluebird Box

Typical of bluebirds, the female does the nest building while the male watches closely. He will chase away other birds who came too close, and stand guard while she is away gathering nesting materials. Occasionally, when she goes into the box, he will look in to see what she is doing, sometimes going in for a few seconds. We like to joke that she is making him rearrange the furniture.


Photos of Bluebird Eggs and Babies in Their Nest

Our bluebirds laid 5 eggs.

Our bluebirds laid 5 eggs.

These naked looking baby bluebirds are just a few days old.

These naked looking baby bluebirds are just a few days old.

Baby bluebirds with fuzzy feathers are alert looking but very quiet as they wait for their parents to bring food.

Baby bluebirds with fuzzy feathers are alert looking but very quiet as they wait for their parents to bring food.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Owlcation

Baby blue birds starting to get their feathers wait in the nest for their mother to bring food.

Baby blue birds starting to get their feathers wait in the nest for their mother to bring food.

Mrs. Bluebird Lays Her Eggs

Once the nest is finished, the female lays her eggs. We occasionally peek in the box while she is out and see that she lays one egg each day until she has five eggs in the nest. Since the typical clutch is two to seven eggs, that is average. The female bluebird spends most of her time in the nest with the eggs while the male bluebird, like any attentive father-to-be, brings her choice tidbits of food, catching insects or picking up grubs from the lawn. Sometimes we see her poke her head out the entrance hole and look around as if to say, "Where's my lunch?"


Baby Bluebirds Hatch

After about twelve days, the babies begin to hatch. The average incubation period for bluebirds is 11-19 days. Since the eggs were laid a day or two apart, the chicks don't all hatch on the same day. When the first bluebird hatched, it was so ugly - only a mother could love it!. Baby bluebirds are born almost entirely naked with just a few tufts of down on their bodies (see photo). Their beaks are huge compared to the rest of their bodies, and we were afraid they would hurt each other in the crowed nest. But it isn't long before they began to develop more down, and then show signs of real feathers.

Meanwhile, the five hungry baby birds are running their parents ragged. Both parents bring food to the nest, though it seems that the male does the major food gathering. He catches insects on the ground and in the air, and is in and out of the box many times each hour. Sometimes one of the parents will enter the box with the young ones. It has be be really crowded in there!

Bluebirds fledge (leave the nest) after 16-21 days. We watch the nest closely because we don't want to miss the big event, but one day we went out for the day and came home to an empty nest! (A lot like when your teenagers go to college.) After that we sometimes catch sight of the young bluebirds in the bushes or hidden in the trees at the edge of the lawn as the male continues to supplement their feeding. Mrs. Bluebird, however, is already checking out another nest box and carrying in nesting material for her second brood!



Bluebird babies almost ready to fly

One of the young bluebirds looks around for mom and dad.

One of the young bluebirds looks around for mom and dad.

Mrs. Bluebird brings some food to the babies.

Mrs. Bluebird brings some food to the babies.

This little fellow looks like he'll be flying soon!

This little fellow looks like he'll be flying soon!

How to Attract Eastern Bluebirds

If you want to attract these beautiful birds to your area, you can help create a bluebird friendly neighborhood by putting up some nesting boxes made specifically for bluebirds. One of the reasons that bluebird population fell in the mid 1900s was that competition for nesting sites by European starlings and house sparrows drove them out of their natural habitat. In the 1960s and 1970s when bluebird trails were established and encouraged, bluebird populations increased.

How to build a bluebird box

Because they depend on pre-made nesting holes which may be scarce, bluebirds are also perfectly happy with man-made nest boxes. They are a little fussy on how their house is designed, though. An ideal bluebird house is about 5”x5” on the bottom, 8-12” tall. It should have ventilation holes on top and drainage holes in the bottom. It has an entrance hole that’s 1 ½ inches in diameter. This may seem small, but a larger hole will encourage bigger birds to take over the site. Bluebird houses do not have perches outside the entrance hole because that would encourage sparrows or other birds to invade their houses. When more than one box is placed, they should be at least 100 yards apart.

What Bluebirds Eat

While Eastern Bluebirds don’t often visit feeders, they will feed on insects, grubs, caterpillars, beetles, spiders, crickets and grasshoppers from your backyard, so you should not use insecticides if you hope to attract them.  Some people do buy mealworms to put out on flat feeders for the bluebirds that are feeding their young.   In the fall and winter, bluebirds will also eat many different kinds of fruits and berries including  sumac, blueberries, black cherry, tupelo, currants, wild holly, hackberries, honeysuckle, bay, pokeweed, juniper berries,  mistletoe, dogwood berries.

Enjoy These Beautiful Birds

I hope that you are lucky enough to have bluebirds visit your backyard. You are sure to enjoy glimpses of their sparkling blue feathers as they hunt for grasshoppers in your lawn or fuss at the other birds who invade their territory. Maybe they'll even reward you by drinking from your birdbath and preening themselves outside your window.


Becky and Grandpa checking on the bluebird nest.

Becky and Grandpa checking on the bluebird nest.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can I buy a bluebird nesting box anywhere?

Answer: You could check places like Home Depot, Ace Hardware or True Value Hardware if they are in your area. If you have no luck, you might try a search on Amazon.

Question: When do I clean a bluebird nesting box?

Answer: You can clean out the nesting box after the brood has fledged. Sometimes bluebirds will raise another family in the same box, so be sure you don't destroy the nest for the next brood. You can also clean out the box at the end of the summer so that it's ready for the spring arrivals.

Comments

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on December 22, 2014:

naturegirl7s - My bluebirds have been coming back for years to nest in the same boxes. I'm sure we're getting some of the second and third generation by now! Sparrows sometimes try to use the boxes, but we discourage it.

Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on December 21, 2014:

I hope your blues are doing well. This is a lovely and well thought out hub with wonderful pictures and good information. I, too, have nest boxes and enjoy seeing bluebirds, Prothonotary warblers and others use them.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on July 04, 2013:

Midget38 - Thanks so much for stopping by again!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on July 04, 2013:

Thanks for flying in, Sunshine! I love my bluebirds, and do enjoy them as they raise their families in our backyard.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on July 03, 2013:

Visiting and sharing these lovely bluebirds again, Stephanie.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on July 03, 2013:

I flew in to say hello to your fine feathered bluebirds. They are such a beautiful bird.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 23, 2013:

Thank you Peggy! It's a great time of year to learn more about bluebirds...they're busily tending to their nest and eggs right now. Babies will be along in a week or so!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 23, 2013:

Hi Stephanie,

Now that I have a Pinterest account, I thought that this would be a perfect one to add to my birds board. You did such a great job with this hub all about bluebirds. :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 01, 2013:

Mike Robbers - Glad you enjoyed my photographs of our resident bluebirds! Thanks for stopping in to read and comment.

Mike Robbers from London on April 01, 2013:

Lovely photos! Amazing creatures!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 31, 2013:

MartieCoetser - It's interesting to watch the pair of bluebirds building the next. The male is allowed to bring nesting materials, but it seems that the female is the one who's inside arranging her home to perfection. During the process, Mr. Bluebirds is always very close by watching for any threats to his territory and is quick to chase away intruders. I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub...thank you for your comments and votes!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 31, 2013:

Midget38 - Thank yo Midget! I's so glad you enjoyed our bluebirds! They do bring us a lot of enjoyment.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on March 31, 2013:

This is a beautiful little bird - Sialia sialis.

So interesting: The female does the nest building while the male watches closely.

Beautiful, informative, well-researched hub! Voted up!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 31, 2013:

Amazing, Stephanie!! Wow, thanks for sharing the bluebirds with us, and you certainly did a wonderful job of giving them a chance to nest, observing and then photographing them! A wonderful write, which I share.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 30, 2013:

Flitter with a twitter! :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 30, 2013:

Sunshine625- We do enjoy our bluebirds! I'm thrilled that they come back each year to raise a new family right in our backyard. Thanks for your sweet comments, Linda! I'm all a-twitter! :)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 30, 2013:

This hub is a gift that keeps on giving. Thank you Steph for creating this "tweet" for all of us to enjoy :) Bluebirds are beautiful birds.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 30, 2013:

Dana Teresa - In our case, the bluebirds did most of the work - we just provided the box in a place they decided to accept. Thanks so much for your nice comments on my photos and article! I do appreciate your support! :)

Dana Strang from Ohio on March 30, 2013:

Great info and fabulous photos! I am so happy you wrote this. It is so encouraging for a real person to share their experience. It makes it so much more interesting and makes it look easy to do!

Sharing!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 10, 2013:

tobusiness - I'm so glad you enjoyed my article and photographs on our bluebird family. They are a delight to watch each year as they come back to raise their young. Thanks for stopping in to comment and thanks for the share!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 10, 2013:

Torrilynn - There is nothing as lovely as a bluebird in the sunshine! I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub and photographs. Thanks for your comments and for the share!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 10, 2013:

Thanks, Daisy! We enjoy our family of bluebirds so much each year. It was a pleasure to photograph their progress and watch the young ones grow and fledge. Thanks for stopping by...glad you enjoyed our bluebird family.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on March 10, 2013:

This hub is impressive; simply stunning! Thank you for this, up and sharing.

torrilynn on March 10, 2013:

Hi Stephanie,

thanks for this hub on blue birds

I find them beautiful and I like the fact that they are my favorite color

hope to read more from you soon

Voted up and Shared.

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on March 10, 2013:

Stephanie,

Your article is terrific, and your photographs are incredible! This Hub definitely deserved to be designated a Hub of the Day.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 23, 2012:

Arren123 - Glad you enjoyed the photographs of the bluebirds, and thanks for the tip and the tweet! I appreciate the share!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 23, 2012:

Dahlia Flower - This hub did attract a lot of attention when it was nominated for Hub of the Day. There are a lot of birders out there who love bluebirds! Thanks for stopping by to comment. I really appreciate the share!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 23, 2012:

Shea duane - I'm glad you enjoyed the photographs of our backyard bluebird family. Thanks for stopping by to read.

Dahlia Flower from Canada on May 23, 2012:

Wow, you earned an amazing number of comments on this and I don't wonder - it's an amazing subject and a great hub. I love all things BIRD. lol

Voting up and sharing.

Arren123 from UK on May 23, 2012:

Beautiful photos you have, thank you for sharing, voted up and tweeted. If you are a keen photographer to just like sharing you photo work maybe this site will earn you some pennies. I wrote a hub or 2 on the site https://hubpages.com/money/Cold-hard-cash-in-your-... thanks again for your wonderful photo, beautiful :)

shea duane from new jersey on May 23, 2012:

Beautiful photos!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 23, 2012:

Vinaya Ghimire - I'm glad you enjoyed the bluebird hub! Thanks so much for the birthday wishes - loved the flowers! :)

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on May 23, 2012:

Wonderful ideas and great pictures.

Happy Birthday Stephaine!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 23, 2012:

Kelleyward - Thanks, Kelley! I'm so glad you enjoyed my bluebirds. It was a fun hub to write as my subjects were right there outside my kitchen window.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 23, 2012:

Danette Watt - Thank you! I do love birds and enjoy photographing them. These bluebirds were very cooperative subjects! :)

Danette Watt from Illinois on May 23, 2012:

I can see why this was awarded Hub of the Day at the time. Your photos are wonderful!

kelleyward on May 23, 2012:

Wow Stephanie this hub is amazing. I can see why it won HOTD! Beautiful birds, pictures, and great detail. Thanks for putting so much time and effort in this. I truly loved reading it! Take care, Kelley

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 26, 2012:

Faith Reaper - Bluebirds did seem to be more common when we were kids, though I'm pleased to see them coming back as people provide nesting boxes for them. Thank you for your kind comments!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on April 25, 2012:

Reminds me of when I was a child and watching the blue birds in my backyard. Beautiful hub with beautiful photos. Thank you for writing this. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 25, 2012:

Lilleyth - House sparrows will try to take over the bluebird territory. We try to watch out for them and chase them away from the bluebird houses during nesting season. Bluebirds do love open areas, and golf course is probably a place they would love. Thanks for your comments and for the share!

Suzanne Sheffield from Mid-Atlantic on April 25, 2012:

Bluebirds are my favorite birdie, and, yes, our North Carolina yard had dozens of the little fellas...but here on Delmarva the sparrows just drive them off as soon as they arrive. I've given up hope. Last time a bluebird landed on the bluebird house 3 sparrows dive bombed him. I do see them out in open fields here and on the golf course across the street, so they are definitely here. Loved this hub, thumbs up on everything. Shared with FB.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 25, 2012:

Moonlake - The bluebirds don't seem to mind being crowded though it has to be better if they have a little breathing room. I hope your bluebirds like their new homes! Thanks for stopping in!

moonlake from America on April 25, 2012:

We get bluebirds in our yard they nested in a little tiny garden house. They had 5 or 6 babies and they could barely fit in the box. We now have better boxes up for them. Enjoyed your. Congrats on Hub of the Day.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 25, 2012:

KTrapp - I shared this again today because the photograph of the baby bird looking out of the bird house is new. I'm glad you like the picture...it was the last one I took before the babies flew off on their own. Now I have "empty nest" syndrome! :(

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 25, 2012:

Kittythedreamer - I think that too many crows can scare away some of the other birds as they are not above raiding nests. They are very independent and brazen, and actually quite beautiful when the sun strikes their black feathers. Thank you for coming by to comment, Kitty!

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on April 25, 2012:

Stephanie - This is not only an interesting Hub, but it is beautiful. The photos tell a story all their own. I especially love the expression on the baby bird looking out of the home.