Nesting Structure FAQs
Where should I place my Bluebird boxes?
Boxes should be placed in open areas with several trees and shrubs nearby so the Bluebirds can hunt insects but still have a perch. Fledging Bluebirds need a tree or shrub within 50 feet of the nesting box for a safe landing site off the ground as they recover from their first flight. Bluebird boxes should be placed at least 100 yards apart.
What other birds will use Bluebirds boxes?
Wrens, Chickadees, Tree Swallows, and House Sparrows will also use a Bluebird nesting box (click here for help with identifying these nests). Bluebird boxes should be checked regularly and any House Sparrow nests removed. The non-faint of heart may also wish to euthanize any House Sparrows who are occupying a Bluebird box. These non-native birds will attack and kill adult and baby Bluebirds, Chickadees, and Tree Swallows.
How do I maintain my Bluebird boxes?
Before spring nesting season begins, remove any winter debris from your Bluebird boxes. Unkempt boxes promote disease and parasites that are harmful to both the young and the brooding female. During nesting season, check the boxes regularly (once a week) to clear out unwanted House Sparrow nests. Most importantly, be sure your Bluebird boxes are protected with a cone predator guard. The predator guard will prevent snakes, raccoons, and housecats from eating the Bluebird eggs and young.
Name the most significant mistakes made when trying to attract Purple Martins.
1) Choosing a poor location. Houses should be at least 40 feet away from trees but within 100 feet of human buildings.
2) Opening the house too early. Martin houses should be reopened approximately 4 weeks after the first scouts are observed. In our area this is usually late April–early May.
3) Closing the house too early. Leave your house up until early September. This year’s fledglings may search for next year’s site before they migrate.
4) Allowing other bird species to occupy the house. If any other species settles into an unestablished Martin house before the Martins arrive, those houses will rarely attract nesting Martins. Houses should be lowered and checked periodically to remove any unwanted nests.
Why does a Purple Martin house need to be white?
To reflect the sun’s heat—otherwise, nestlings may die from heat stress.
My Osprey platform has been up for more than a year and is still not occupied. What can I do to attract a nesting pair?
New platforms are often occupied by juvenile pairs as they return from their 2- to 3-year stay in South America. Juveniles will likely return to the area where they were raised. Be patient. It may take a few years for a young pair to return and claim their nesting site.
What is the best location for a Kestrel box?
Open fields and meadows or along fence rows. Boxes can be mounted on utility poles, buildings, lone trees, or custom poles. The house should face a south or easterly direction. Pick a site within 100–200 yards of a tall tree or pole/wires so the Kestrels can perch near the box. Box height should be 10–30 feet from the ground and the entrance unobstructed by twigs or branches. Starlings or House Sparrows that take over a Kestrel box should be removed.
What types of owls use our small owl boxes? How about the large owl box?
The small box is a favorite of Screech Owls. Barn Owls will use the larger box.
What is the best Wood Duck nesting habitat?
Wood Ducks prefer quiet inland fresh water with stable levels throughout the summer, but may tolerate slightly brackish water. Water should be in or near deciduous or mixed hardwood. Brood cover in the form of overhanging woody vegetation along water edge and emergent vegetation like sweet flag and smartweed provides an area for hiding and foraging.