You have witnessed the fledging stage of your backyard birds. The babies have left the nest box on your property. You listened to our advice and placed it at the correct location, at the proper height. More importantly, the hole was facing in the right direction so that the prevailing New England winds didn’t create havoc with the eggs.
Did you know that most cavity nesting birds have more than one brood each year? Would you like to see the same birds reuse your nest box immediately after the baby birds have “flown the coup?”
Should you remove the old nest or leave it so that the adults do not waste energy building another one? What if the birds do not like you touching their home? If you do remove the nest, how can you be sure when to take action? What if the birds return and see an empty nest box?
These are the most common questions our customers have in regards to bird houses or nest boxes, as we prefer to call them. Birds only use a box to lay eggs and raise the young. After baby birds leave the nest for the first time, they do not return. The nest box has accomplished its task. It is time for this box to assist the adults in another brood immediately after the fledgling stage has been completed.
First, how do you know if the babies have left? If you have ever witnessed a nest in action, the activity of the parents raising and feeding the young is a constant, daily commotion. Every ten minutes or so, birds will be leaving and entering the hole. When the babies are big enough, the tiny heads will always be sticking out of the entrance. After the birds fledge, all activity around this nest box ceases to exist. The difference is very noticeable. You will know the day the nest is no longer being used.
At this time, you should remove the old nest and properly dispose of it. Do not simply brush it to the ground as the birds will use the old material to build a second nest. Old nesting materials such as grasses contain mites and other harmful microbes that will harm newborn hatchlings. Farmers who store hay in barns have to be careful to rotate old stock with new to ensure that contamination does not occur for the same reason.
Usually, most people can remove the first nest around the end of June. Birds that started the first nesting at the beginning of spring are usually ready for the second nest building stage at that time. So, give your birds a helping hand now so you can relive the moment when new life emerges from your backyard.
Enjoy your birds!
Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve White is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.