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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

When will the birds be done nesting in my grill?

Hello, I have a few questions. We noticed a blackbird flying in and out of a hole in the back of the grill a couple weeks ago. When I opened the lid I found a nest and four blue eggs. My boys have been so excited to peek every morning. Now that the eggs have hatched is it still OK to peek at the birds? Should I prop open the gill a little so the babies can get out? This has been an excellent learning experience and my boys are as thrilled as I am to watch nature but my husband wants to know when he can have his grill back? Thanks!

The European Starling Sturnus vulgaris is found across the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Southern Canada to Northern Mexico. The usual nesting sites are holes and crevices in trees, buildings, rooftops, the occasional grill or bird houses.

Starling parent and juvenile
Adult starlings are about 8.5 inches and both male and female have similar iridescent black feathers. Males sport a bluish spot at the base of their beaks, while the female displays a reddish pink speck. Juvenile birds are very loud and have dull dark gray or brown feathers when they fledge. In the fall all the starlings will go through a molt and grow replacement black feathers with white tips which make them look like they are speckled with stars.

Breeding season generally begins in late March with nest building. It’s best to check a nest in the afternoon, since most females lay their eggs in the morning and are absent from the nests in the afternoon. A starling’s average clutch is 5 glossy light blue or white eggs. Incubation of these eggs lasts about eleven days with the female doing most of the nesting. During the first few days of incubation, observe the nest from a distance and approach when the female leaves the nest to feed.

Once hatched, the chicks are helpless. The parents feed them only soft bugs and suets and as they grow older the variety food grows wider. Both parents feed and care for the young. When young are close to fledging, resist the urge to peek. We don’t want the young to fledge prematurely. If you do see a bird has popped out too early, put him back. Birds don’t care if their baby smells like a human.

After 21 to 23 days the birds will leave the nest the same way the parents enter and exit. You do not need to prop open the grill. The parents will take their babies away from the nest and teach them to feed themselves over the next couple weeks.

They do not return to the nest once they have fledged so you can then clean out your grill for your backyard barbeques.

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