It’s official. Nesting season has arrived! Have you spotted a nest yet? If you find one nearby, you have a front-row seat to the daily drama of bird life. It’s also a perfect opportunity to become part of the NestWatch project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. NestWatch has been tracking trends in the nesting success of hundreds of species of birds across the country for more than 40 years.
As a NestWatch participant, you’ll visit one or more nests or nest boxes every 3 to 4 days and report what you see at www.NestWatch.org—when the first eggs are laid, total number of eggs and young, and when the hatchlings take their first faltering flights. After signing up, you’ll first do a bit of online training to understand how best to observe nesting birds without disturbing them. You’ll learn the best time to check nests and how to avoid accidentally leading predators to them.
You’ll also get some tips on how to find nests. “Look for birds carrying bits of grass, twigs, feathers, and other nesting material and remember where they go,” says Jason Martin, NestWatch project leader. “Males sing to mark their territories so if you see male birds singing, there’s probably a nest nearby.”
Participation in NestWatch is open to anyone who is interested in birds and nature, and is free although a small donation is suggested to help support the program. Signing up is easy via the NestWatch website. There are online tutorials to help you along the way and a chance to share your experiences with others on Facebook. It’s a great way to connect with other bird watchers and with nature in your own backyard.
And for a personal, up-close view of birds at their nests, watch some of these nest cams as they broadcasted live via the internet. There’s a lot of action right now, so don’t miss it!