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Although it may still seem like we're in the icy grip of winter, spring will be here soon. It's time to make sure the bird nesting boxes on your property are ready for their residents. And if you don't have bird houses, it is a great time to add them! Make your yard an attractive place for the birds by providing nesting boxes, adequate cover, food, and a consistent water source. All of these things will increase the chance that birds will nest in your yard. Many year-round resident birds are already investigating possible breeding sites, and those who have wintered in other areas will be returning soon to breed here.
If you have existing boxes, check them out and remove the old nests. For some models this may mean taking the box apart, but it is worth it. If birds find a box filled with last year's nests and parasites, they will most likely move on. If you have had a box up for a few years and no birds have used it, consider moving it to another location. Various species have their preferences of locations and hole diameters. Unfortunately, many nest boxes are sold for decorative purposes and are not suitable for birds. I imagine that many people are disappointed and wonder why their nest boxes are never used, when it was impossible for birds to fit through the very entrances to these decorative boxes! The bird house which is most attractive to birds may not be the most appealing to the human eye. It needs to be properly placed, with the right size entrance, good ventilation and (preferably) an easy way to check and clean the box. This need not take expense, just a little research.
When it comes to bird houses, it is often the older and more weathered boxes which attract birds because these appear more natural. Don't discard a nest box just because it gets a little worn looking. The bird house in the photo is quite old but still very serviceable, and it attracted a pair of white-breasted nuthatches last year. That's a parent bird in the photo luring a fledgling out of the box for the first time with a bit of suet. Just a few days ago, the nuthatches returned to the box and went inside. Boy, was I glad that we had it cleaned and ready for them! They may not be ready to nest just yet, but they are looking for potential sites, and I hope they return to this box for another breeding season.
This is just a friendly reminder, get those bird houses ready now!
Source: years of supplying breeding sites for birds