Birds raising young

We try to provide everything birds need to raise their young including:

Natural nesting places

Robin leaving nest ©Janet AllenRobin leaving nest in our arborvitae

Not every bird nests in cavities (and therefore not in nestboxes, either).

Many birds build nests in trees or in shrubs. Some even build their nests in grasses or on the ground, but we've never had any of those in our yard.

Interestingly, some research shows that nests built in non-native bushes have a higher predation rate. Yet another reason we focus on native plantings.

The robin in the photo built its nest in one of the arborvitaes along our driveway. If we hadn't seen her leaving and entering this area of the shrub we never would have suspected the nest was there.

Nest in arborvitae ©Janet AllenAfter the babies fledged, we checked out the nest

After the nestlings fledged, we inspected the nest. It was indeed very well-hidden!

Robins have fairly frequently nested in our arborvitaes.

Robin nest in our apple tree ©Janet AllenRobin nest in our apple tree

This robin nested in our apple tree right above our rain barrels. We're at the rain barrels frequently, so I guess she doesn't mind not having complete privacy, though she was eyeing me warily as I tried to take some photos of the nest.

Gray dogwood ©Janet AllenGray dogwood

Patches of native shrubs, like these gray dogwoods outside our fence, are good areas for birds to nest in, too. The catbirds have raised young somewhere out back, either in these shrubs or in the evergreens next to the back fence.

These dogwoods are a favorite place for birds to hang out in any case.

A future snag

Dying sugar maple ©Janet AllenOur unhealthy sugar maple (note declining leaf canopy), a future snag

One of the best things we could provide for raising young is a dead tree. Nestboxes are necessary only because our society has such an aversion to keeping dead trees.

We're not lucky enough to have a dead tree ourselves, but when our sugar maple finally dies, we'll cut it off at a height where safety isn't an issue and wait for the birds.