When you conclude a nesting attempt on NestWatch, you're asked to answer the following question: "Why do you think this nest failed or succeeded?"
Well, I'd just like to be able to say it was successful because I'm the best grandmother/landlady a bird could ever want! But I know that wouldn't help the NestWatch folks at all.What I can say is that I've done everything in my control to provide a safe nesting spot for my birds, in this case, my chickadees. Here's the Top 10 things I do to try to ensure nesting success for the chickadees and other birds in my yard:
1) My nestbox is safe.
My chickadees chose to build their nest in a WBU Bluebird box. All Wild Birds Unlimited brand boxes have the safety of the birds as the #1 consideration in their design:
- Wall thickness to insulate from cold and heat.
- Openings below roof to allow for ventilation.
- Holes at bottom corners for drainage. Corner drainage works best.
- Panel(s) swing open for easy clean-out. No screws to unscrew.
- No perches - they encourage predator birds
- Fledgling ladder inside helps fledglings leave the house when it's time
2) I've added a metal portal protector over the nest hole to keep larger predator birds and critters out.
3) There is a baffle on the pole to keep squirrels and chipmunks from accessing the box.
4) I've placed the box out of the jumping range of smaller critters like chipmunks and red squirrels.
5) I keep my cats indoors.
6) There's lots of food, water, and shelter nearby.
7) I've made it easy for birds to find nesting material by providing alpaca wool and cat hair. (NO DRYER LINT!!!)
8) I don't use chemicals in my yard.9) I've closely followed NestWatch protocol for observing my nest box.
- Not visiting the box more than recommended by NestWatch
- I've learned about the nesting cycle of my birds
- I don't check the box in the morning or at/after dusk
- I won't check after nestlings are fully feathered
- I don't make a dead-end trail to the box that predators may follow; in other words, I head away from the box on a different path than the one I used to approach it.
- I don't touch the eggs or birds
- I make my visits quick
10) I participate in NestWatch (and other Cornell Lab of Ornithology citizen science projects). The more we know and scientists know about our birds, the better we can protect them.
I know there are things that are out of my control that could make nesting attempts in my yard unsuccessful. But I can confidently say that I've done as much as I could to make nesting in my yards safe for the birds. I hope this list helps you make your yard safe for nesting birds too!