Free Bluebird House Plans

Build a Safe House for Bluebirds

Western Bluebird at a House
Photo © Kevin Cole/Flickr/CC by 2.0

Bluebirds are some of the most desirable cavity-nesting backyard birds, but they need a safe, attractive place to nest. These free bluebird house plans can help any birder build just the right size, shape and style of house to appeal to bluebirds and attract nesting bluebird pairs.

Choosing a Bluebird House to Build

Bluebirds will not nest in just any bird house. The right bird house will not only provide good, safe shelter for a brooding adult and its nestlings, but it should also be the proper size to admit bluebirds without encouraging unwanted residents.

The best dimensions for bluebird houses are…

  • Entrance Hole: 1.5 inches (1.56 inches for mountain bluebirds)
  • Entrance Height: 6-10 inches above the house floor
  • Interior Floor Space: 5x5 inches to accommodate broods of 5-8 chicks
  • Total Height: 8-12 inches often with the back higher to shed water

There are different design options that are serviceable for bluebirds, including rectangular houses, sloped patterns, round cavities and houses with either front or side panels that open for easy monitoring. Any of these houses is ideal for nesting bluebirds, so long as the house is constructed with their needs in mind and positioned to keep them safe from predators.

Free Bluebird House Plans

Several websites offer different bluebird house plans for free printing or downloading, including:

  • North American Bluebird Society: Multiple plans for different bluebird house designs, as well as designs for effective predator guards.
  • Birdwatching Bliss!: One-board bluebird house plan along with an instructional video and links to additional plans for other birds that use houses.
  • Birds & Blooms: Easy one-board house plan with step-by-step instructions and diagrams for proper construction.
  • 50birds: Adapted design for either eastern bluebirds or modified with slightly larger dimensions for western or mountain bluebirds.

In addition to these websites, many local bluebird societies or conservation groups may have suitable plans available. Similarly, most birders who maintain bluebird houses or work on a bluebird trail would be happy to share their experience to help more birders get involved as bluebird landlords.

Other Considerations When Building a Bluebird House

When using free plans to build a bluebird house, it is important to create the best possible home for resident bluebirds.

To do so, don't forget…

  • Safety Features: A safe bird house needs proper ventilation to keep birds cool, as well as a predator guard to minimize the risk from raccoons, cats and other animals that will prey on vulnerable bluebirds. Avoid house plans that feature perches, which bluebirds do not need but which will give a convenient handhold to predators.
  • Monitoring: Because so many insects, mice and other pests may take up residence in bluebird houses, it is important to properly monitor the bird house to keep bluebirds safe. The data collected, such as brood size, number of fledglings and overall nesting period, can be submitted to different organizations and is useful for citizen science projects.
  • Attracting Bluebirds: No bluebirds will nest even in a perfect house if the surrounding habitat is unsuitable for their survival needs. Take proper steps to attract bluebirds to the backyard by meeting their needs for food, water and shelter, and they will more easily take advantage of the house as a great nesting spot.
  • Unwanted Residents: Many other cavity-nesting birds will take advantage of bluebird houses, including house sparrows, house wrens, black-capped chickadees, Carolina wrens and tufted titmice. Because bluebirds are less aggressive, they are often forced out of their homes. Be aware of these usurpers and check that they aren't taking over the house before bluebirds have nested.

If You Can't Build a House

While every birder may want to welcome resident bluebirds to their bird houses, not every birder is equally adept with the tools and woodworking experience necessary to build bird houses. If you can't tell a hammer from a hacksaw, there are bird house kits that may be suitable or could be adapted for bluebirds, or you can contact a local bluebird society for assistance. Creating enough houses for a bluebird trail is an ideal Eagle Scout project, and many local woodworking clubs or classes would be happy to lend a hand with bluebird house construction. With so many options available, there is no reason for any birder to shy away from becoming a bluebird landlord.