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, December 27, 2011

When do birds begin nesting?

When is nest building season for most birds in the NE i.e., cardinals, chickadees etc?
Thanks ~ PA

Nesting season can vary depending on the species of bird, the weather conditions, food availability, and many other variables. Some larger birds like owls, hawks, and eagles may begin courting in December and nest in January and February.

Other birds that winter in Michigan or elsewhere in the northeast may begin to sing and scout for good nesting territories as early as January. Bird feeders may contribute to a bird deciding to nest early in your yard.

However, if a bird starts to nest and a cold front moves in, they may suspend their nest building activities for a couple weeks and then continue when the weather is more favorable. This may happen especially with inexperienced and excited first year nesters. Research has found that the basics in nest construction are primarily instinctive, but birds’ nesting skills improve through trial and error.

Northern Cardinals usually nest anytime from March to August. Black-capped Chickadees usually nest any time from April to July. In some areas the Mourning Doves nest almost year round because they feed their young “crop milk”. While American Goldfinches wait to nest until late July to September when the thistles and other flowers are producing a reliable supply of fluff to make their nests and seeds for their young.

You can click on the charts to see a list of other birds in the NE and their nesting schedule. 

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