Nesting season is a time when birds build nests, lay eggs and raise their young.
And hosting nesting birds offers an incredible nature show right outside your window. From courtship rituals and territorial disputes to nest-building and frenzied feeding of young, their activity is captivating and entertaining.
Peak nesting season for most of our birds stretches from April through June, making this a great time to draw them to your yard. What can you do to invite nesting birds to your outdoor space?
Offer a mix of nesting materials, place birdhouses and nesting shelves around your home, and offer baby bird foods that parents can take back to their nestlings. Each of these appeal to birds as they look for nesting sites.
When it comes to nesting materials, offering a variety of natural fibers is key. Place pet fur, plant down, feathers, coconut fibers or dried grasses in a clean suet cage. Avoid using dryer lint because it absorbs rain, making it a poor insulator for baby birds. Cut string and yarn to half-inch lengths to avoid nestlings getting trapped or injured. Backyard Bird Shop (backyardbirdshop.com) offers a variety of tried-and-true nesting materials that come ready-to-hang, including those that hummingbirds love.
Backyard Bird Shop
Address: BBS has Metro-area locations in Beaverton, Lake Oswego, West Linn and Portland.
Phone: 503-626-0949 (B), 503-620-7454 (LO), 503-303-4653 (WL), 503-445-2699 (P).
Specializes in: Connecting people to nature, sharing the joy and comfort that comes from watching birds and wildlife at home and the satisfaction that comes from helping them.
Many of our favorite feeder birds — such as chickadees, nuthatches and wrens — will nest in birdhouses, as will some swallows and owls. But not all birdhouses have equal charm. Each species is attracted to appropriately dimensioned birdhouses for their kind.
Backyard Bird Shop's birdhouse selections note what species to expect and never feature a perch below the entrance. As it turns out, perches are unnecessary and are used by larger birds to prey on nestlings.
Lastly, house finches, American robins, mourning doves and barn swallows are drawn to a nesting shelf tucked under eaves or cover near supporting habitat.
Baby birds need soft, easily digestible foods that are high in fat and protein. Most songbirds meet this requirement by feeding insects to their young. The natural supply of desirable insects can be scarce in urban areas, so what baby bird foods can you offer? For most, live mealworms and high-fat, high-protein suets, such as Backyard Bird Shop's Nutty Feast or Just Bugs suet, will work.
For hummingbirds, repurpose your discarded fruit and veggies inside Backyard Bird Shop's insect incubating feeder to provide them with a ready supply of fruit flies — a natural, protein-packed meal.
Finches are an exception when it comes to the baby bird menu. They feed their young partially digested seeds. Of the seeds that finches eat, sunflower seeds have the highest fat and protein content, making it an ideal offering for growing nestlings.
Keeping feeders well-stocked now can attract birds to nest nearby, and once their families leave the nest, you can enjoy watching the young beg food from their parents at your very own feeders.
Stop by your local Backyard Bird Shop — in Beaverton, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Portland or Vancouver — for nesting season foods and supplies. Their knowledgeable staff can help answer questions and offer you more nesting season information including tips on safe nest-watching.