May 2, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, June 2018

Spring is Here! How to Help Nesting Birds

American robin nestlings.

With the breeding season in full swing, it's a perfect time to do a few simple things to make your backyard more nesting-bird-friendly. Here are a few suggestions:

Birdbath: Provide moving water for birds in hot, dry weather. Clean out a plastic half-gallon or gallon milk jug and fill it with water. Use a rope or wire to hang it from the handle, suspended over a shallow birdbath or unglazed ceramic plant basin. Poke a pinhole in the bottom and loosen the cap until the water begins to drip out slowly into the shallow, water-filled basin below. The drops and ripples will attract birds!

Nesting Material: Human or pet hair, cut into lengths shorter than three inches, is irresistible for nest-building birds such as chickadees and titmice. Yarn or alpaca fiber can be just as attractive, but remember to cut the pieces short to avoid tangling up nestling legs.

Eggshells: Save your eggshells to offer to the birds. Wash out shell halves and dry/sanitize them on a cooking sheet inside an oven set at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Once the shells cool off, put them in a jar or other container and crush them with a wooden spoon. Spread the small eggshell bits on the sidewalk, driveway, garage roof, or deck railing for your backyard birds to discover. Bluebirds, swallows, goldfinches, thrashers, and other species will relish this source of calcium, depleted in female birds by egg laying.

Check out the June 2018 issue of Watching Backyard Birds for some more nesting birds advice.

Wishing you a successful nesting season!

About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson III is the editor of Bird Watcher's Digest by day. He's also a keen birder, the author of many books, a dad, a field trip leader, an ecotourism consultant, a guitar player, and blogger.

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  • Fascinating, how insightful both the humans and cheep cheeps are... Thanks for sharing.
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 27 Apr 2018
  • #18 in the Gallery is misidentified as a Tree Sparrow, instead of Tree Swallow.
    by Ron, Mon, 23 Apr 2018
  • yep i do the microwave too....they don't break down in our compost so the birds get them!
    by ecumam2, Wed, 18 Apr 2018
  • As you probably know, sunflower seed hulls have a bio-chemical in them, (allelopathic), which keeps any other seeds from sprouting, in the same area. I have used this fact, to a purpose. With a large build up, each year (& yes, it is a bare spot!), I rake up the "bounty" & spread them on areas of bulbs & perennials to keep the annual weeds down. It's also helpful near blue squill bulbs, which drop seeds through the fence that divides a perennial garden, from the lawn , where they are welcome to naturalize. The garden can be over run with them, so sunflower hulls can keep the sprouting down.
    by Plntlady, Tue, 17 Apr 2018
  • I do this in a small garden, near our road, where winter road sand can build up & bury the small, low-growing plants that live there. In spring I just pick up the burlap & shake it back onto the road, before the road crew comes by with the street sweeper, in spring.
    by Plntlady, Tue, 17 Apr 2018