About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Where Did My Bluebirds/Chickadees Go?: How Do You Know When a Nest is Abandoned?

  • Dear Wild Bird Unlimited,
    I bought three of the Wild Birds Unlimited ultimate bluebird houses. I thought everything was going good but now I’m not sure. I was so happy that all the houses looked like they were going to be used. Bluebirds were at the houses every morning. They even built nests. I have one pair that is actively nesting but the other birds have disappeared. Do I clean out these partial nests to let other bluebirds make their own nest? Joe~ DeWitt, MI

  • Hello, I have a question about my chickadees. They were actively building a nest and then stopped coming around. I check inside the birdhouse and saw three eggs. Do you think something happened to the birds? Barbara~ East Lansing, MI

We started to have an early spring and then wham! a cold front comes through mid-Michigan to remind us not to take Mother Nature for granted.

Birds seem to understand this. The one pair of bluebirds that nested early was probably an experienced, older pair that knows the area well and knows where all the food sources are located. The others were probably newly mated and trying out different nesting sites.

If they started building a nest they’ll probably be back when the weather turns nicer. New pairs might start later because they want to be sure that when the babies are born there’ll be lots of food available to feed the many mouths.

Once the weather is right and the best nest is chosen, songbirds like chickadees will lay one egg a day. They don't start sitting on the nest immediately. The bird will begin to incubate the eggs after her clutch is complete. That way the babies are born on the same day and there isn’t competition between older and younger babies. So you may not see your chickadee because she is out foraging and taking advantage of her last moments of freedom before her confinement to the nest.

It’s better to be safe than sorry and leave all the bird nests alone. I’m happy so many people are involved in their birds' nesting. Keep us updated.

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