I posted previously on my bluebird nest box design, so I wanted to update the blog to tell one and all that the "Roush" design is now NABS (North American Bluebird Society) approved. If you'd like to make one, my hideously self-drawn plans are here (page 1) and here (page 2). Someday, I'll get someone involved with some drafting ability so they can make them a little easier to follow. Right now, suffice it to say that I've aimed at making a design that uses standard cedar lumbar sizes for ease of construction. It's front-opening, but could easily be made side-opening instead. All I ask, in return for posting the plans, is that you help me save a few bluebirds...and support the North American Bluebird Society if you're able to.
Bluebird Nest Box
For the unwashed, there is a whole sideshoot of science and pseudoscience involved in the creation of nest boxes that will attract bluebirds but will also be unattractive to sparrows and other winged rats. They need to be a certain size and of exacting entrance hole diameters. Ventilation is very important so that they don't overheat, particularly during the summer during the second nesting cycle. They sometimes need various types of predator guards attached, depending on what roams in your area. One of the things different in my design from the standard NABS box or Peterson box is the entrance hole is a little lower since it has been recently discovered that bluebirds will use shallower nest boxes and sparrows won't. Every little advantage helps.
I got interested in the survival of bluebirds because they are a welcome bit of bright color in February against the brown Kansas prairie, and I don't want to see them go the way of the Carolina Parakeet. One of the best books I ever read, and a life-changing experience, was Hope Is The Thing With Feathers, about 10 or 15 years old now, by an English professor named Christopher Cokinos. The book is a winner of several national awards and in it Cokinos tells of six birds that have gone extinct in North America within living history, chronicling the fall of each species and the heart-breaking attempts to save them. Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Heath Hen, etc, all have a place in this unique and engrossing text. The extent of his research is amazing. For instance, from an old magazine article about the last wild Passenger Pigeon, he found the family of the young boy who shot it in 1910 and received from them a manuscript written by that now deceased individual that described every detail about that fateful day. You'll find yourself rooting for the birds, and then grieving as the last Heath Hens are wiped out by a grass fire. Don't miss this wonderful read.
And please take Cokinos' book to heart and help us with the bluebirds. More information is always available at the North American Bluebird Society webpage, but the "Roush Eastern Bluebird Nest Box" is only found here.