Recently, the editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest sent subscribers his top-10 tips for helping nesting birds. If you are not a reader of this magazine, I would like to pass along his suggestions.
10. Keep cats at home. I’ve often written how cats are destroying birds and other animals and are put in danger themselves by owners who let cats run free.
9. Put up nest boxes. This gives a cavity-nester a chance to find a hole when the natural ones are being used by sparrows and Starlings.
8. Put off some of your yard work for a while if you see a nest in your bushes or small trees. Trimming can wait until the nest is no longer needed.
7. Put out short pieces of yarn, string, or other natural fibers for birds that weave their nests. Keep the pieces shorter than two inches. You can place them in an onion bag or small basket.
6. Put out short pieces of pet hair or even your hair into an onion bag for birds to line their nests. One spring, I watched a Titmouse pulling hair from the tail of a Golden Retriever; the bird continued until the dog had had enough and went indoors. But the bird had gotten what he wanted!
5. If you use a lot of eggs, you can save the shells for the birds. Female birds require a lot of calcium when laying eggs. You can help by drying your shells in a 250-degree oven for 10-30 minutes, crumbling them and spreading them on a flat surface in your yard. They will help the females restore some of the calcium lost.
4. Don’t stop feeding with high protein foods like mealworms, peanuts and sunflower seeds. The adults will use them to feed the chicks and may bring them to your feeders when they fledge. The young will learn quickly how to use your feeders.
3. Keep meadows long for the summer so that birds and other animals can nest in peace.
2. If you find a nest in use, don’t make a return visit. Your scent can lead a predator right to it.
1. Keep your birdbaths full and clean, especially in hot weather. Parent birds will bring their youngsters to drink and bathe. It may be the only place where the young will know to get water. Keep the water depth less to than 3 inches; birds like shallow water.
I hope you can follow some or all of these suggestions. You will be helping the next generation of birds get a good start in life.