Spring kicks off nesting season in the Pacific Northwest—a season when birds put on their finest feathers and exhibit their most fascinating behaviors! Their courtship displays, territorial chasing, nest-building and caring for young provides hours of nature-watching right outside your window. Backyard Bird Shop carries all the supplies you need to attract birds to nest in your yard and we are here to offer tips to help you be successful.
1. Select a birdhouse
- Avoid birdhouses with perches—predators will use it.
- The entrance hole must be large enough to allow the target species in, but small enough to exclude larger species from entering that same cavity (we have handouts with specifics if you need them).
- The box should be easy to open for cleaning.
- Rust-proof screws or galvanized nails increase the life of a birdhouse.
- A roof with slight eaves and small drainage holes in the base provides protection to the nest against rain.
2. Offer nesting material
While most species of birds have distinct preferences on what they will use to build their nests, natural plant or animal fibers offer the best insulation and protection without the hazards of man-made materials. Robins use grasses and mud; sparrows will use rootlets, fine twigs and grasses; jays use branches for the outside and a variety of soft fibers to line it. While most of those birds will find natural materials right in your yard, other birds like hummingbirds, chickadees, goldfinches, and bushtits can be attracted to a nest-material station you hang outside your window. Our shops have all-natural and ready-to-hang nesting materials for that purpose, but we can also help you determine what materials you might already have at home that are suitable as well as ways to offer them.
3. Provide nutritious meals for the nesting birds and their young
The time it takes for newly hatched birds to grow from a naked chick to a feathered adult-sized adolescent is just a matter of weeks! Since most songbirds' young cannot digest seed, bird parents spend all daylight hours hunting for insects and food packed with protein and fat to feed their fast-growing nestlings. Spring cold snaps reduce insect availability, and birds are at risk of losing one or more of their nestlings if they cannot find enough food. Even one day of lack of food can make the difference between nesting success or failure.
You can offer suet and live mealworms to ensure birds have enough food for their young. The bonus is the entertainment that follows! Watch mom and dad carry off suet or meal worms to the nest to supplement insects they've found. Later, watch parents feed their young right at your feeders! Of course, being fed there means the young will put your feeders in their natural GPS and will continue to visit your feeders from spring right through winter.