Monday, February 8, 2010

Let's Look at Birds' Nests, Part II, by Helen Petre

This week we will look at some nests you might find at Hagerman NWR.

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) Nests of moss lined with hair or grass, sometimes rabbit, deer or squirrel fur. They like to build their nests in forest with shrubs and canopy.

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) Nests of moss, similar to Carolina Chickadee. They add dried leaves, grass, and even pieces of snakeskin or cellophane on top of the moss, and line the cup with fur to cover the eggs when the hen is away. Sometimes there are earwigs living under the moss. They build in deciduous forests and swamps, but like to feed at bird feeders, so you may see this bird at the Visitor Center.

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) Big, bulky, messy nests. Wherever there is food, there are starlings. They use grass, weeds, stems, twigs, corn husks, leves, and pine needles. Sometimes they add paper, plastic, cloth or string. They line the nest with feathers and green plants. Starlings are non native, invasive birds. They do use boxes if the hole is larger than an inch and one-half, but it is ok to remove their nests so that native birds can use the boxes.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) Big messy nests like European Starlings. They like dense shrubs and thick underbrush or woods with tangled, brushy undergrowth. They use leaves, hay, grass, twigs, moss, roots, weeds, bark, plastic, snakeskin and feathers. The nest has a dome with a tunnel for an entrance; the inside is lined with hair and grass.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) Eastern bluebirds use the boxes around the Refuge. They like open grasslands and open canopy with no understory. The nests are cup-shaped and made of grass, or sometimes pine needles and even hair. The neat little nest is a deep cylinder, unsual three or four inches deep withthe cup two and one-half inches in diameter and about that deep.

Bluebirds will be the topic for our Second Saturday program and March 13, and All About Bird Nests will be the topic for Second Saturday for Youth, on that same date.

For more information about programs and activities at Hagerman NWR, please visit For information about nest boxes, see Cornell Lab of Ornithology Nest Watch site,

(Photos - Empty Nest, by Denise Stephens, top, and Whose Nest? by Donna Niemann)

1 comment:

  1. The bluebird boxes are also used regularly but Titmouse and Chickadee families.