How Can I Help Nesting Birds?

Now is the time to prepare your yard for nesting birds. Birds have to set up and defend breeding territories, construct nests, protect eggs, and raise chicks, all while making sure to take care of themselves as well. There are several ways you can help birds during this stressful season.

Provide places for birds to nest.

Birds require safe places for them to build their nests and raise their young. Some birds, like woodpeckers, are known as primary cavity nesters. They will create their own nesting holes in trees, particularly in old and dead or dying trees. Other birds will make use of old woodpecker holes; these are called secondary cavity nesters. Secondary cavity nesters include House Wrens, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Great-crested Flycatchers, and Screech Owls. Habitat loss and the tendency to remove dead trees can make it difficult for secondary cavity nesters to find proper nesting spots. Provide these birds with a place to raise their young by adding nesting boxes to your yard. For birds that don't use man-made housing , such as Cardinals, Doves, Warblers, Sparrows, Finches, and many more, provide a variety of thick brushy shrubs as well as evergreens that they can safely use for nesting.

Provide food for nesting birds.

Spring in our area can be a very difficult time for birds. Natural food sources are at their lowest point and plants have not begun to produce new seeds and fruits yet. Insect populations, which make up an important part of many birds' diets in spring and summer, are vulnerable to late spring freezes. Female birds also need to increase their calcium intake before they begin to lay their eggs to ensure the shells are strong enough to protect the developing chick inside. Make sure you keep feeders full during spring. Energy-rich seeds, like Oil Sunflower, Nuts, and Safflower are important now. Give your birds our WBU Choice Plus Blend, a high-energy mix of seeds, plus it has calcium for strong egg development. For Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Titmice, try offering our Birdacious Bark Butter on a tree or Bark Butter Feeder. Or, use our Birdacious Bark Butter Brick in your suet feeder. If you have Bluebirds nesting, provide them with Mealworms. Many nesting birds will feed young chicks a diet of nothing but insects until they are ready to leave the nest, so other birds may visit a feeder full of Mealworms.

Don't use pesticides.

Because so many birds rely on insects to feed themselves and their young, it is important to refrain from using chemical pesticides in your yard. A build-up of these chemicals can cause infertility in breeding birds, lead to birth defects in baby birds, compromise their immune systems, and poison both young and adult birds to death.

Keep your cat inside.

Free-roaming cats are responsible for the deaths of millions of birds every year. Young birds are often the victims of cats as it is not unusual for baby birds to leave the nest before they are able to fly. Typically, these young birds spend their time on the ground under low shrubs, where they can hop up into the branches - easy prey for a cat. Even if a bird escapes from a cat's initial attack, the bacteria transmitted from a cat's bite will quickly lead to the bird's death! Keep both your birds and your cat safe and healthy by keeping your cat inside. For more information, visit Cats Indoors! an informative site by the American Bird Conservancy.