Tuesday, June 4, 2013
tips for finding nests
Today I watched a Blue Jay fly into the ten foot crape myrtle on our curb. I knew what was about to happen- jays seem to only go to that little tree for one reason. Gathering twigs for a nest.
Sure enough, the jay maneuvered to where it could grab a small stem in its beak, and wrestled with it for twenty seconds, fluttering wildly as it tried to break it off. It was frustrated this time, but usually gets a piece, and takes it promptly to the nest location.
This is the best way to find bird nests. Keep alert for birds carrying nest material, or food. Then stand back enough that them to remain comfortable, and watch where they go- to a tree crotch, or the heart of a bush. If they are carrying material, wait ten days before you approach the suspected nest location for confirmation- if you look immediately, they may abandon the spot because it has been discovered, and start building elsewhere. If they are carrying food, you can approach the nest right away. The notion that birds will abandon the nest if you touch it (or touch the young) is myth- researchers do it all the time. Just be gentle if you have to shift branches to get a view!
For most species, locating nests by watching adult behavior this way is much more efficient than simply searching for nests visually. That technique can find a lot of nests, but they are almost all going to be old and inactive- maybe even from previous years.
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