For the Birds: Save the birds - Protect their nests

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dark-eyed Junco nest with eggs in planter box

By Christine Southwick
Photos by Craig Kerns

Many local birds are now on nests, others are just starting their nests. 

Dark-eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows and other sparrows make their nests on the ground, hidden in clumps of grass, bases of shrubs or ferns, brush piles, or a depression in the ground hidden from view, perhaps by a rock.

Even some warblers like the Wilson’s Warbler build their nests in clumps of tall grass behind the base of a tree or shrub (0-3 feet above the ground). 

Many other birds, not usually found in our yards, also nest on the ground -- Killdeer, MacGillivray’s Warblers, and Townsend’s Solitaires come to mind.

Red-breasted Nuthatch with bug

If you are working in your yard right now, it is vitally important that you protect birds and their nests from disturbances either by you or your dogs and cats. 

When walking your dogs, please keep them on leashes, especially in parks

Canine noses will find unseen nests and disturb and often destroy them by stepping on the eggs and even the parent. 

 For the same reason, cats must also be controlled.

Watch where you clear weeds, especially when weed-whacking. Be alert for a startled low-flying bird, or a bird making alarm calls. Stop, and maybe leave that area wilder than usual. The rewards will be great.

Black-capped Chickadee with grub

Resist the easy application of herbicides and pesticides. 

Herbicides kill weeds in your lawns and curbs plus beneficial creatures like worms, beetles and spiders. 

Pesticides kill almost all bugs, including good bugs like bees and butterflies, plus all the caterpillars and grubs that birds feed their babies. 

This puts all birds in danger of dying from those strong, deadly, labor-reducing products, and makes it harder for the parents to find enough bugs for themselves and their offspring.

A neighbor found a dead adult bird on eggs when she was cleaning out a nest box and asked me what could have caused its death. 

Since usually only healthy birds lay eggs, and this bird didn’t appear injured, I told her that bird may have eaten a bug that had been sprayed, and died from pesticide poisoning, thus killing her and her unhatched eggs.

Golden-crowned Kinglets fledged less than a week (by gape)

Save Birds -- remove weeds and bugs by hand instead.

Which would you rather have -- pristine lawns and plants that have been poisoned and that don’t supply nutrition for birds and their young?

...or yards with flying, singing birds, that are feeding their young and taking care of most of the local bugs?


Unknown April 20, 2020 at 7:03 PM  

Excellent article. Thank You!

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