Monitoring Your Nest Box
Here's How to Monitor your nest boxes:
You are monitoring the nest for awhile. If you don't see or hear any birds, go over and tap on the box. If you hear bird sounds, open the top, side or front and take a quick peek inside.
If every thing's okay, close the box. If you see problems(parasites or predators), remove them and close the box.
Here's where a bird house with easy access makes the job simple. Most bird houses can be opened from the top, the side, the front, or the bottom.
Boxes that open from the top and the front provide the easiest monitoring access. Opening the box from the top is less likely to disturb nesting birds.
It's impossible to open a box from the bottom without the nest falling out. While side- and front-opening boxes are convenient for cleaning and monitoring, they have one drawback:
The nestlings may jump out.
If this happens, don't panic.
Just pick them up and put them back in the nest.
Don't worry that the adults will reject the nestlings if you handle them. That's a myth.
Most birds have a terrible sense of smell.
You can buy or make yourself a box that has a clear plexiglass side.
Several companies make wonderful observation boxes and nest boxes with the proper dimensions and depth for certain species of birds.
Cameras are also designed for nest box observations.
If you want, you can go high-tech and get cameras to place in your boxes and observe from the comforts of home.
As you continue you monitoring your nestlings, you will discover how fast they grow and in many cases are ready to fledge within 12 to 14 days.
Observation should stop after 10 days in most cases.
To keep the youngsters from hopping out a couple of days to soon you will want to place your hand over the hole until they babies have calmed down.
If you clean out your nest boxes after each brood has fledged, several pairs may use the nest throughout the summer. Many cavity nesting birds will not nest again in a box full of old nesting materials.
In the fall, after you've cleaned out your nest boxes for the last time, you can put them in storage or leave them out. I leave my boxes out all year so they can offer winter protection for some species of birds and others scope out locations in late fall through early spring.
Gourds and pottery last longer if you take them in for the winter. You can leave your purple martin houses up, but be sure to plug the entrance holes to discourage starlings and house sparrows.
Each spring be sure to clean out all houses you've left out for the winter. By watching your houses now, you may find mice and hibernating insects that over wintered in the cozy confines.
Proper box depth, roof, and entrance hole design will help minimize predator (raccoons, cats, opossums, and squirrels) access. Sometimes all it takes is an angled roof with a three-inch overhang to discourage mammals.
The entrance hole is the only thing between a predator and a bird house full of nestlings. By itself, the 3/4" wall isn't wide enough to keep out the arm of a rat or house cat.
Add a predator guard, a 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick rectangular wood block, to thicken the wall, and you'll discourage sparrows, starlings, and cats.
Personal experience says that some well placed carpet tack-board on and around your nest boxes works wonders at keeping predators at bay.
Bird Houses Made for Monitoring
Bird House Materials
Maintaining Your Boxes
Nest Box Placement
Grow Your Own Bird Houses
Plant a Bird Garden
Be sure to Feed the Birds
Birds, butterflies, Gardens and much more.
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