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.
The Nesting Season
Fortunately, temperatures are warming and the days are getting longer. For wild birds, the increased daylight prompts physiological changes and signals the beginning of their nesting season. Tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, sparrows, cardinals, bluejays, finches and bluebirds had a delayed start to their usual nesting activities this year due to the prolonged cold this spring. Many birds will have more than one brood, so the nesting season can be fairly long.
Birds will often select a nesting site that affords adults easy access to a plentiful supply of seeds. Keeping birdfeeders filled in spring will insure that birds stay close. You may notice a decrease in the number of birds at your feeders when bird eggs begin to hatch. The parents are constantly busy catching insects for their ever hungry nestlings.
Putting out birdhouses provides a safe and dry place for many birds to build their nests. Hang them in areas where predators are unlikely to gain entrance. Some birds, like woodpeckers, will prefer cavities they find in trees. Others, like cardinals, will look for a dense shrub in which to build a nest. Many others, like titmice, wrens and chickadees will seek out birdhouses.
Water is a real attractant to wild birds. Keep a fresh supply of water in a birdbath or clean saucer for drinking and bathing. Any container used for water needs to be emptied and refilled at least twice a week. This will discourage mosquitoes from breeding in the water.
So put out the birdbath, hang up the birdhouse and put out the WELCOME sign. The nesting birds will reward you with hours of enjoyment.