Birds Blog

Nesting Season Part II: Determining Habitat

Setting up nesting boxes is easy! No experience necessary — that’s what I’m here for!

Putting up a nesting box (or 30) around your home is a mutually beneficial activity for you and the birds. There are several reasons why setting up a nesting habitat in your yard is a great great idea, but first and foremost, you must figure out if you have an appropriate habitat to welcome birds.

The most important question to ask your self is this one:

Do I Have Outdoor Cats? Do My Neighbors Have Outdoor Cats?

If you answered “YES” don’t set up a nesting box — seriously. If you have outdoor cats at your home, you will endanger nesting birds. Even if you put a nesting box on a balcony, nestlings drop out of the nest and spend a lot of time on the ground before they take flight. That’s when tragedy can strike. Just look at the damage an outdoor cat did to this beautiful Northern Cardinal below.

Female Northern Cardinal Killed by an Outdoor Cat During Nesting Season. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

Cats will be cats, c’est la vie, but you don’t have to participate in giving them an easy target!

Don’t fret if your yard is unsuitable for a nesting box. There are plenty of ways to get involved with birds and birding.

Where to Put the Box(es)

Nesting box placement plays a large role in the species that will take up residence in your yard. For example, if you place a nesting box close to your home, barn, shed, or an outdoor structure, you’re like to attract House Sparrows or House Wrens.

Male House Sparrow Monitoring His Territory. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

Other species such as Eastern Bluebirds or Carolina Chickadees might also take up residence in boxes placed near structures, but the competition for these homes will be tough — tough on the Bluebirds and Chickadees.

House Sparrows and House Wrens are very successful nesters because they are aggressive. They will kill other song birds, remove eggs, poke holes in eggs, or even smother nestlings by building their nests overtop making it impossible for parents to reach their young.

What Remains After a House Sparrow Attack on a Nesting Box. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

Trees and Vegetation

Do not place nesting boxes near, or on trees or shrubs. By placing nesting boxes on or near these types of vegetation you will be giving predators (such as snakes) a boost up to the box. Mounting boxes on conduits between 5-7 feet (above the ground) with a predator guard at the bottom, is the best way to set up a nesting box. Alternatively, if you have a fence, you can mount a pole/bracket onto a fence (giving extra height) with a box at the top — using a predator guard of course.

Stay tuned for “Nesting Season Part III: The Right Box for You“.

Don’t forget to follow Animal Perspectives on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Also read…

Nesting Season Part I: NestWatch is On!

Wordless Wednesday: Red-Winged Blackbird

Where the Screech Owl Wasn’t

5 Birds to Know in the Northeast this Spring

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