Maintain Your Bluebird Boxes

Even though February, being one of our coldest months, may seem like a time to sit inside and enjoy our garden from afar, there are a few things we can do to maintain our garden and its many visitors. 

The N.C. Bluebird Society and the North American Bluebird Society recommend that we clean out our bluebird boxes during the winter.  In North Carolina the best time is during the month of February.  Both sources state that not cleaning out the boxes can lead to diseases and parasites. After each breed, clean out the box.  This will let the bluebirds know the box is not being used.  Not cleaning out the box will also create a buildup of nesting materials that can raise the nest closer to the entrance hole.  This can make bluebird families easier targets for predators.

Here are the steps they report are best for our bluebird friends:

  • Open the box and clean out all nesting materials with a screw-driver like tool.
  • You may use a garden hose to spray out the inside of the box.
  • An additional step is to rub the interior of the surfaces with unscented ivory soap as a wasp deterrent.
  • Do not forget to clean around the entrance hole of the box.
  • Be sure not to leave the old nesting material around the foot of the box.  Leaving it there can encourage disease.
  • Close the box and wait for your new family of bluebirds to arrive!

-Diane Horvath

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