Backyard Bird House
Small Winter Roost
Large Winter Roost
House Predator Control
Putting up a bluebird house is a responsibility
that should not be taken lightly. When you put up
a bluebird house, a commitment is made to provide
as safe as possible place for the bluebirds to
raise their young. If this commitment is taken
seriously, both you and the bluebirds will be
Bluebirding is a great hands-on project but, from
time to time, problems may arise on your trail.
Common problems on a bluebird trail include the
weather, house sparrows, house wrens, and
predators such as raccoons. We cannot control the
weather, and sparrows and wrens may prove to be
difficult, but losses due to raccoons can and
should be controlled. Proper bluebird house
placement can be a factor in raccoon predation.
Bluebird houses placed in pastureland are less
likely to attract raccoons than houses placed
near a wooded area with a stream, pond, or lake
There are two definite lines of defense against
raccoons. The best way is to keep the raccoon off
the house. The second is to prevent the raccoon
from reaching into the house once it gets in a
position to try.
There are many ways to predator-proof a bluebird
house. Here are some methods used by experienced
The easiest way to mount a bluebird house would
be to nail it to a wooden fence post or to a
tree. Although this may work well in certain
parts of North America where there are few
raccoons, it is generally not recommended.
Raccoons climb trees and walk fence lines where
they may eventually find your bluebird house.
Taking the time to properly mount your bluebird
houses, may take care of your raccoon problems.
A smooth clean pipe is the best mounting system
to use. A 10 foot piece of 3/4 inch EMT
electrical conduit pipe can be purchased for a
reasonable price. It will then need to be cut
down to a length of approximately 8 feet, to
place 2 feet of pipe in the ground and 6 feet of
pipe above. The electrical conduit is zinc plated
and will keep its slick surface for many years.
Other heavy round pipe will also work well. Scrap
pipe found at construction sites and salvage
yards can also be used. An excellent source of
pipe is from overhead garage door companies. In
their scrap piles from discarded doors you will
find either an 8 foot or 16 foot piece of 1 inch
Most businesses will be glad to give them to you.
If they are rusty, they should be sanded smooth.
Flattening the bottom of the pipe with a heavy
hammer will help stabilize the pipe and keep it
from turning. A fence post driver is recommended
over a heavy hammer for putting the pipe in the
ground. There are several easy ways to mount a
bluebird house to the pole:
Pre-drill two 5/16 inch holes through both the
conduit or pipe and the back of the bluebird
house. Use 1/4 inch bolts for anchoring the
bluebird house to the pole. The drilling can be
done before placement in the field.
Wrap two pieces of pipe strap around the pole and
screw into the back of the bluebird house on
either side of the pole. Secure another small
piece of pipe strap to the back top and bend it
down into the pole to keep the bluebird house
Place two electrical conduit hangers around the
pole and screw into the bluebird house.
A method that works well for mounting lightweight
bluebird houses (i.e., PVC boxes) is the use of a
5 foot piece of 1/2 inch electrical conduit
slipped over a 5 foot piece of rebar driven
approximately 2 feet into the ground. A conduit
connector (with a longer bottom screw) at the
base is used to keep the conduit from turning.
A bluebird house may also be mounted on PVC pipe.
Some 2 inch PVC pipe will slip over a metal
T-post, which makes a secure system when your box
is located in a pasture with cattle. Mount your
bluebird house high enough on the PVC so that the
cattle will not have any sharp corners to rub
Down spouts can also be used. A 10 foot length of
down spout can be cut into three 3 foot 4 inch
pieces, which is attached to the back of the
bluebird house. This can then be slipped over a
By using the above methods, raccoon predation
will be greatly minimized. For added protection,
substances can be applied to the pole. Rub the
pole down will steel wool and apply a layer of
Carnauba car wax or silicone spray. Another
effective method is to apply a coating of high
quality automotive grease to the pole. A mixture
of 5 pounds of grease and one quart of turpentine
will keep the grease soft throughout the season.
Grease will eventually attract dirt and harden
which may make it easier for a raccoon to climb
the pole. The grease may have to be removed and
reapplied if this happens. This is extra work,
but it is the most effective way to keep raccoons
off the pole.
Some bluebirders prefer using a guard on the pole
or post their bluebird house is mounted on.
methods apply to snakes and cats. Snakes can
climb smooth poles, even greased ones. Snakes are
more of a common problem in the southern states
but some snake problems may occur all across
North America. The stove pipe and cone guards are
effective for snake control. Also effective is a
24 inch piece of hardware cloth placed directly
under the bluebird house.
Both domestic and feral cats pose a threat to
bluebirds. The hanging guards mentioned may
detour a cat but they may jump as high as 6 feet.
If cats are in your area, place your bluebird
house as high as possible on a smooth pole.
Please do not let the possibility of predation
problems discourage you from putting up a
bluebird house. Mounting your bluebird house on a
smooth round pipe will greatly reduce the chance
of a loss to a predator. Any other preventative
measures taken will provide added protection.
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Copyright © 2003 Shaw
Creek Bird Supply