How to Keep Tree Swallows Out of Bluebird Houses

Tree swallows and bluebirds nest in similar nesting boxes or bird houses.

Bluebirds and tree swallows will nest near each other.Bluebirds and tree swallows will nest near each other.
Bird watchers attempting to nest bluebirds often end up with tree swallows instead. Blue is the predominant color of both species of birds with the tree swallow possessing a white underbelly compared to the orange underbelly of the bluebird. The tree swallow is more common in most parts of the United States and can overrun the nesting opportunities of the bluebird. However, birdwatchers who take advantage of the tree swallow instincts can give the bluebird an advantage.

Acquire at least two similar birdhouse structures intended for bluebirds.

Take the houses to a spot at least 200 yards from occupied farms or houses. The ideal spots are trees, fenceposts or posts where the boxes can be placed about 5 feet off the ground.

Mount the two bird houses within 20 yards of each other. According to the website of the Dane County Conservation League, tree swallows won't nest within 30 feet of another tree swallow nest while bluebirds won't nest within about 100 yards of another bluebird. However, the two species will nest close to each other and the swallows won't interfere with the bluebird box.

Things You Will Need

  • Metal barrier

Tip

  • A shrub or bush should be within 50 feet of the front of the bluebird house. This provides a goal for the young birds on their first flight. Place a metal cone or other metal barrier below the nest box to discourage climbing predators.

About the Author

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.