Bird Nesting

Birds Build Nests

Northern CardinalBirds lay eggs.  Usually in a nest.  Nests are fabricated in different ways, from different materials and in different locations.  We won’t go into all of that here since there are many outstanding resources with great information on bird nesting habits.  One of out favorite resources is Cornell’s All About Birds site.

What we’d rather tell you about is what we’ve learned from our own observation of birds in our yard and how and where they nest.  There are even one or two opinions included.

Birds are Resourceful

Carolina WrenBirds are resourceful with materials and location. Half the year it seems we have a Carolina Wren pair nesting in the exhaust vent of our kitchen oven. It’s really cool, because after the chicks hatch, the duct work acts as a sound chamber and we can tell by the piped in commotion when the parents are present and have brought food. Our only responsibility is to not use the exhaust fan on the stove and to make sure the vent flap never gets closed.

Urban Birds are More Used to People

American RobinIn-town birds seem to be a little more tolerant of the comings and goings of people.  In our yard they have built nests right under the kitchen window, in the holly bushes next to the front door and in the creeping hydrangea vines outside the office window.  In 2013, our friends down the street had a Robin pair build a nest in a pine tree within 10 feet of their deck. They seemed oblivious to all of the activity nearby.

And of course they nest in the trees. A pair of Cooper’s Hawks have raised their young for several years in the tall pines on the lot across the street.  We benefit by watching each spring as the parents teach the juveniles how to hunt.  A Pileated Woodpecker is nesting somewhere nearby because he visits every week or so.  Another neighbor has a pair of Barred Owls that have been residing in a tree in his yard for several years . And Nuthatches have excavated the Box Elder snag in our back yard to suit their taste.

Birdhouses are Appreciated

Eastern BluebirdIf you put a birdhouse in your yard in early spring, chances are good that you’ll be rewarded with a nesting pair.  Some say birds don’t need houses and they’ll do just fine on their own.  That may be true, but why not help a little.  They are living in town with reduced habitat.  A little assistance goes a long way.  Plus, you’ll have the pleasure of watching them raise their young near you.

We have about a dozen birdhouses in out yard.  Some get used almost every year, others not so much, and one or two especially large houses haven’t been occupied yet.  The house on the right with Bluebirds has been in the same spot since 2006 and had occupants most years.  People passing by on the street can watch the parents feeding the chicks.

If you decide to build your own bird house, the US Fish & Wildlife service provides good information on nest boxes, including dimensions.  See our page on Birdhouse Dimensions which is  based on their information.

Some Houses in Our Neighborhood

Here are some of the houses in the neighborhood:

It’s Wildlife

You put up a Bluebird house and Nuthatches moved in!  What?  You don’t like Nuthatches?  We say enjoy your tiny industrious squeaky entertaining bug-eating  tenants.  Nuthatches need a home too.

We’ve found that you can find a book or web site that will tell you almost anything about birdhouses and bird behavior.  For example we’ve always heard that Bluebirds are very territorial and Bluebird  houses must be a long distance (150 feet) from each other.  However, we had two pair nesting in boxes in the front yard that were only 40 feet apart.  Our advice is read what you can, apply a little common sense and watch what happens.  And of course (you know what’s coming), birds can’t read.

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