House cats and raccoons are among the most serious bluebird predators. Baffles or a greased pole are advised for use in areas where cats and raccoons are likely. A 5-inch roof overhang above the entrance hole reduces the possibility of raccoon or cat predation from above.
If raccoons or other predators are present, avoid mounting your box on a tree or fence post. Raccoons will naturally patrol fence lines and are more likely to locate the nest box.
This PVC box, while not fancy, is effective. It has an overhang on the front to prevent predators from reaching into the box from above and an extended shade guard to provide protection from the hot afternoon sun.
It is often a good idea to place a guard under the box to prevent snakes and other animals from entering the nest box. Commercial guards of several types are available or you may construct your own.
How to make your garden safer for birds?
Limiting predators in your yard can be challenging, but there are several things you can do to help keep birds safe:
- Remove food sources: One of the best ways to limit predators in your yard is to remove any potential food sources, such as pet food or garbage, that may attract them.
- Keep bird feeders clean: Clean bird feeders and bird baths regularly to prevent the buildup of mold and bacteria that may attract predators.
- Install predator guards: Install predator guards around birdhouses, feeders, and nesting boxes to prevent predators such as raccoons, cats, and squirrels from accessing them.
- Choose bird-friendly landscaping: Plant shrubs, trees, and other vegetation that provides cover for birds, but avoid dense shrubbery that may provide hiding places for predators.
- Keep pets indoors: Keep cats and other pets indoors, especially during the breeding season when birds are nesting and vulnerable.
However, remember that predators are a natural part of the ecosystem, and it’s important to balance the needs of wildlife with the desire to protect birds.