Nature Notes

Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.

Spring Nesting Season

 Spring is the time of year when most of our birds in North America start their breeding season.  The majority of birds build their nests in branches of trees and shrubs.  Some birds prefer gutters, porches, or even hanging baskets.  Many other birds are cavity nesting birds and prefer to build their nests in the holes of dead trees.  There is, however, a limited supply of holes to nest in.  That is where our birdhouses can offer much needed enclosures for nesting.

 Cavity nesting birds often adapt readily to building their nests inside birdhouses.  The most common backyard birds in our area that appreciate birdhouses are chickadees, wrens, titmice, bluebirds and nuthatches.  They are most attracted to birdhouses made of natural wood.  Few are drawn to brightly painted houses as that might attract the attention of predators.

 Birdhouses should be durable and easy for you to maintain.  They should provide protection from the elements and be well ventilated.  All birdhouses should have a way to easily clean out an old nest.  Many birds will have two or more broods each year and it is helpful to be able to clean out the old nest once the current brood has left.  Birdhouses should have a small door or way to open the birdhouse to make this  cleaning easy.

 Birdhouses can be left outside all year.  Be sure to clean out the birdhouse after the birds are no longer using it for nesting.  Although they are used most in spring and summer, birdhouses can provide shelter to birds on cold winter nights.

 The next time you visit the Shop at Lasdon be sure to take a look at the handmade birdhouses by Pete Furu.  I had a pair of wrens raise their young last spring in one of Pete’s birdhouses hanging from a tree in my yard. I am delighted to see that the wren couple has returned again this year.  The nesting season is definitely here.  It’s time to hang out the welcome sign.