April 22, 2011
Now that the nesting season is upon us, it is a great time to explore ways to make your neighborhood more inviting for nesting birds. Providing nest boxes is a fabulous way to help birds, and they provide an easy method for monitoring nesting behavior and contributing to science through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch project. NestWatch teaches people about bird breeding biology and engages them in collecting and submitting nesting records. Such records include information about nest site location, habitat, species, and number of eggs, young, and fledglings. You can submit your nest observations to the NestWatch database and become part of a continent-wide effort to better understand and manage the impacts of environmental change on bird populations.
Think Outside The Box
Of the nearly 95,000 nesting attempts in the NestWatch database, 97% are from birds using nest boxes. But NestWatch is interested in collecting data from other nests, too. Many of the NestWatch focal species do not use boxes and you don’t have to go far to find them. Several species of birds nest in trees and shrubs in suburban yards, and possibly even on your front porch. Many of these common species are underrepresented in the NestWatch database. For example, the database only includes 72 Northern Cardinal nests, 48 Northern Mockingbird nests, and 4 American Goldfinch nests! So, while you’re enjoying the outdoors this spring and summer, please take a moment to look around for any bird nests and report on the nesting success of the robins, phoebes, finches, and other birds you see.
NestWatch is a free citizen science project and everyone is encouraged to take part. If you do monitor nests, please be sure to follow the nest monitoring code of conduct. For nest box building tips, read about the characteristics of a good nest box or download free nest box construction plans. To contribute your observations, visit the NestWatch web site in the United States or Canada.