I’m always on the look-out for bird nests at this time of year. They’re all over, you just have to be in tune–the country or city, trees or eaves.
So far we have found five nests on our property: bushtits, violet-green swallows, western bluebirds, oak titmice, and pacific-slope flycatchers.
It takes some time to find a bird nest; it should, that’s the nature of a nest. How crafty the adult is at hiding the nest, and then keeping it a secret, is directly contingent upon the survival of the young, and ultimately the success of the species.
For the bushtits, it was a treasure hunt. One day I noticed they were a pair. Gregarious birds, they are always in flocks of about a dozen, except in spring when they pair off for breeding.
After that, I started noticing they were nearby several times a day, not just their once-a-day fly-through. Then I watched with binoculars and saw one had caught a worm and instead of gobbling it up, the bird carried it off.
Soon after, we followed the little fluffball as it disappeared into a manzanita bush. Bingo — we found a pocket of lichen in the center of the bush. You can see how hidden it is.
If you’re interested in attracting nesting birds, there are many things you can do, especially providing: food, water, shelter, safety. The main thing: be attentive.
Info about nest boxes:
As for finding nests, start watching bird behavior and you’ll be amazed how busy they are.
Good book (U.S.) with bird nest specifics: Peterson Field Guides, Birds’ Nests
This year and last, our neighbors lamented there were no more swallows in the area. What happened to the swallows? they said.
I grinned. We have them swooping overhead, all day every day, from March to June.
Here’s a previously written post about their nesting: Violet-green Swallows.
Every spring the violet-green swallows and western bluebirds have a few weeks of territorial chest-thumping before they choose their respective houses.
The oak titmouse is always “our” very first songbird to nest. This year they found a cozy spot inside an old tree snag.
It is for this reason that we keep some dead trees standing–they are a wealth of life regardless of how dead they look.
The pacific-slope flycatchers migrate up every spring from Mexico. We have hosted so many generations of this bird that I could write their family tree.
A post I wrote about them: Generations of Flycatchers.
Many people don’t have big yards to provide nest spots. I like this story from fellow-blogger Helen at Tiny Lessons Blog. She helped engage the community in providing a new nesting place for the osprey at her local salt marsh: the fundraising efforts and the new nest.
What a wonderful thing to live where birds continue to reproduce. And there are so many ways to view the chicks, whether it’s in your yard, a community park, or from your computer via live cams.
It’s a sweet reminder of the joy of life.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander