April 10, 2020

Rehoboth Land Trust Attracting Birds with Nest Boxes

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While the Land Trust provides excellent habitat for our native birds, your yard can also provide valuable habitat.

Soon it will be spring and many of our local birds will be starting to nest. They might be scouting around your garden looking for the best real estate! While Great Horned Owls incubate eggs in February, most songbirds wait for better weather to raise a family in April or May. If you would like to provide nest boxes, keep in mind the right habitat is very important. Bluebirds and Tree Swallows prefer open grassy fields. House Wrens prefer shrubby areas in edge habitat. The Black-capped Chickadee, our state bird, likes to be near the woods. Tree swallows and chickadees raise only one brood per season while bluebirds and wrens raise several broods.

Nest boxes should never have perches. Perches attract non-native House Sparrows that will aggressively attack our native birds destroying both their eggs and young. Also, more is not better! Too many bird houses do more harm than good unless you have acres of property. Most songbirds are territorial and will not nest near others of their own species.

Mount nest boxes on metal poles (conduit pipes work well) with the nest hole ~ 5 feet from the ground. If you must use a wooden post, install a baffle to prevent predation by mammals such as raccoons. Placing bird houses on trees will attract squirrels and mice and will lead to the loss of baby birds. Where possible, keep dead trees on your property. Snags and logs attract many birds, especially woodpeckers and will provide cover and food for all wildlife including native pollinators.

To have a bird friendly yard, landscape with native plants. Minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides because a manicured lawn is a desert for wildlife. Native landscaping will give you more free time to enjoy spring and the birds in your garden.

To donate: Mail check to Rehoboth Land Trust, Box 335, Rehoboth, MA, 02769.

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