Home & Garden

Some birds prefer man-made homes

In the span of just a couple of days, a Carolina wren constructed a full nest in my horizontal, tubular paper box. She’s doing fine, sitting tight despite daily interruptions by the newspaper and mail delivery. Last year she nested in my garage, but the nest failed for some reason. I don’t know how many eggs she has because the nest is too deep to tell. I hope she has a better outcome this year.

Carolina wrens are just one of a number of species that often choose man-made structures over natural sites for nest locations. I’m not talking about man-made nest boxes. I mean unconventional sites that prove to be ingenious choices on the birds’ parts.

Great-crested flycatchers, Eastern bluebirds and Carolina chickadees have been known to choose mail or paper boxes as nest sites too. Eastern phoebes like to build under bridges, docks, decks, house eaves and front porticos. Barn swallows and house finches like the same areas. Sometimes wreaths on front doors harbor nesting wrens and finches too.

American robins might build on a window ledge or similar site. European starlings seem to like dryer vents on the outside of buildings. Some of you may be familiar with chimney swifts spending the summer and raising chicks in your chimney. Chimney swifts are so dependent on chimneys that they have virtually abandoned natural caves or hollow trees.

Small landbirds are not the only types that use structures. The large stick nests of ospreys are a familiar sight on towers and power line supports near bodies of water. Sometimes bald eagles choose the same. Peregrine falcons and red-tailed hawks are right at home on skyscraper ledges in some of our largest cities.

If you strive to attract birds and have a favorable habitat, you certainly have nesting occurring around your property whether you know it or not. If you have a nest in or on a human structure other than a nest box, take a photo and send it to me. I’m interested in seeing it. In fact, I am interested in any nests you have found around your home.