Birds need places to engage in courtship behavior, mate, and then bear and raise their young.
Provide the Right Places:
- Native trees
- Meadows and prairies
- Host plants for caterpillars
- Dead trees or snags
- Dense shrubs or thickets
- Water gardens or ponds
- Nest boxes
Nest building birds use a variety of materials. You can grow plants that offer the materials, or you can provide the materials themselves
Providing Nesting Materials:
- Use Native Plants. Incorporate at least 70% native plants into your garden for birds to have the best success.
- Twigs. Trees and shrubs with branches less than 4” long.
- Fluff and Moss. Birds use mosses and lichens, fluff from cottonwoods, maples, willows, and other trees with catkins;
- Mud. Swallows, swifts and robins favor mud as a nesting material.
- Dry Grass. Songbirds from sparrows to robins often build with grasses.
- Don’t use laundry dryer lint. It can soak up water and contain unhealthy chemicals.
Nest boxes encourage cavity nesting birds to move in to your yard.
Tips for Nest Box Success:
- Right Bird, Right House. Different birds have different nesting needs. Check out Cornell Lab’s NestWatch Right Bird, Right House website for plans!
- Quality Counts! Wood should be at least 5/8” thick, not treated with chemicals, and include drainage and ventilation holes.
- The Right Place. Morning sun and afternoon shade is best. For safety, ensure clear flight path. Position box 6+ ft high.
- Deter Predators. Don’t include perches, install predator blocks to entrances, and place metal flashing on roof.
- Keep it Clean! Remove last year’s nesting materials as soon as spring birds head out.