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NestWatch Funded by: Developed by: Developed by: In collaboration with: NestWatch - www.nestwatch.org A citizen-science nest monitoring project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology NestWatch It's a rewarding way to participate in scientific research and have fun outdoors.

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NestWatch

Funded by:

Developed by:

Developed by:

In collaboration with:


NestWatch - www.nestwatch.org

A citizen-science nest monitoring project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology


NestWatch

It's a rewarding way to participate in scientific research and have fun outdoors.

  • NestWatch collects data on ALL North American breeding birds.

  • However, several species will be followed more closely because they are more accessible – they tend to nest near humans and across a variety of landscapes.

  • We call them our “FOCAL SPECIES”

Please join us in our investigations to find out more about

the birds we see in our everyday environment.


NestWatch Focal Species

Widely Distributed

Eastern North America

Blue Jay

Carolina Chickadee

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Phoebe

Gray Catbird

Northern Cardinal

American Goldfinch

American Kestrel

American Robin

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

House Finch

House Wren

Mourning Dove

Northern Mockingbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Song Sparrow

Tree Swallow

* Brown-headed Cowbird

Western North America

Lesser Goldfinch

Mountain Bluebird

Say's Phoebe

Violet-green swallow

Western Bluebird

Western Scrub Jay


Widely Distributed Focal Species

American GoldfinchHouse Wren

American KestrelMourning Dove

American RobinNorthern Mockingbird

Barn SwallowRed-winged Blackbird

Black-capped ChickadeeSong Sparrow

House FinchTree Swallow

* Brown-headed Cowbird


American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

1-30 ft. - Shaded areas with dense leaf canopy

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Tight cup of twigs, roots, and spider silk with a soft (thistle) lining; built by female

Eggs: (2-7) White tinted with light blue

Habitat & Range

Late nesters (June-July) & strict vegetarians!

Areas with a variety of deciduous vegetation, suburban yards


American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

10-30 ft. - Cavities in trees, buildings, nest boxes, cliffs, & cacti

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Shallow scrape in loose material on the cavity floor, no nesting material; built by female

Eggs: (3-5) White, cream, or pink with brown specks

Habitat & Range

Nestlings squirt feces on the cavity walls, keeping the floor clean

Variety of open areas: forest edges, orchards, pastures, deserts, etc.


American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

5-50 ft. - Trees, shrubs, or buildings, usually located in a crotch

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open cup of grass & twigs, held together with mud, lined with fine dry grass; built by female

Eggs: (3-4) Pale blue

Habitat & Range

Robins can become intoxicated from eating too much honeysuckle!

Wide range such as forest openings, woodlands, farmlands, yards, parks


Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

As high as 100 ft. Usually stuck against a flat surface with overhead support

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open, shallow cup of mud, grass, & hair, lined with feathers; built by both adults

Eggs: (4-5) White with spotting

Habitat & Range

Unmated males will kill nestlings of a mated pair to mate with the female

Breeds in variety of areas, sometimes near water


Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

4-40 ft - Cavity in rotten wood, old woodpecker hole, or a nest-box

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Cavity with moss base, lined with fine material such as animal fur; built by female

Eggs: (6-8) White with reddish-brown speckles

Habitat & Range

Chickadees can remember thousand s of locations where they’ve hidden seeds

Breeds in wooded areas


House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

10-15 ft. – Pine trees, building ledges, vines, planters

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open cup of grass, leaves, string, feathers, etc., lined with fine material; built by female.

Eggs: (2-6) Pale blue with speckles

Habitat & Range

Nestlings are fed an exclusive plant diet.

Variety of urban & suburban habitats. Rarely use broad-leaf trees or cavities


House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

2-20 ft - Placed in tree cavity, nest box & various crevices

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Stick platform, nest cup lined with grass, bark, hair, feathers; built by both adults

Eggs: (4-8) White or pinkish with reddish spots

Habitat & Range

Adults will puncture the eggs of other species nesting nearby

Wherever there is low shrubby cover & thickets, with holes for nesting


Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

1-250 ft. - Trees, shrubs, vines, flower pots & man-made structures

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Flimsy platform of twigs, pine needles or grass stems; built by both adults

Eggs: (2) White, unmarked

Habitat & Range

A single pair may have up to five or six clutches in a year

Breeds in open woodlands, cultivated areas, suburban gardens


Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

3-6 ft. - Built in shrubs & trees, sometimes found in eaves & building rafters

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open cup with outer layer of twigs, lined with grass, leaves, & plant fibers; built by male

Eggs: (2-6) Shades of gray, white, blue, & green

Habitat & Range

Both males and females continue to add to their songs throughout life

Breeds in a variety of areas, usually with some sort of vegetation


Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

1-8 ft. - In vegetation near or over water: cattails, trees, cereal crops

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Woven sedges and grass, lined with fine grass & rushes; built by female

Eggs: (2-4) Very pale blue with dark marks

Habitat & Range

One male may have up to 15 females nesting in his territory

Variable – wetland, upland, & agricultural; some urban or suburban


Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

0-4 ft - On ground, grass tuft, or shrub; found higher as vegetation grows

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Cup with rough layer of dead grass & weeds, lined with fine grass & hair; built by female

Eggs: (3-5) Very pale blue with reddish speckles

Habitat & Range

Females prefer males with songs that reflect the male’s ability to learn

Low scrubby growth and thickets, most often in moist or swampy locations


Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

3-30 ft. - Natural cavity, woodpecker hole, nest box, or in a man-made cavity

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Cup of dry grass, pine needles, etc., lined with feathers; built by female

Eggs: (4-7) White, unmarked

Habitat & Range

Using feathers in their nests helps to reduce the parasite load

Prefers open woodlands or farmlands near water


Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

0-10 ft - Female cowbirds choose nests with smaller eggs & lay an egg once the host lays two eggs

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: No nest; lays eggs in nests of other bird species

Eggs: (1-7) Whitish with brown or gray spots

Habitat & Range

They are the only brood parasite common across North America

Habitats with low or scattered trees among grassland vegetation


Focal Species of Eastern North America

Blue Jay

Carolina Chickadee

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Phoebe

Gray Catbird

Northern Cardinal


Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

3-90 ft. - Tree crotches or branches, near buildings in suburban areas

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open cup of twigs bark, or moss, lined with small roots, mud, or leaves; built by both adults

Eggs: (2-7) Variety of colors with brown spots

Habitat & Range

The oldest known wild Blue Jay lived to be at least 17 years old!

Breeds in variety of areas including woodlands, rural & suburban habitats


Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

2-25 ft. - Usually in dead tree hole, wooden post, or a man-made structure

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Cavity lined with moss, bark, animal hair & plant fibers; built by female

Eggs: (3-10) White with speckles

Habitat & Range

Pair bonding between male and female can remain intact for several years

Breeds in wooded areas


Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

2-30 ft. - Natural cavity, old woodpecker hole, or nest box on a post

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Loose cup of grass and pine needles, lined with hair, grass, or feathers; built by female

Eggs: (4-5) Pale blue

Habitat & Range

Males do a wing display at the nest to attract females to the cavity

Open woodland or man-made sites around farms & buildings


Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

0

3-20 ft. - Under bridge, cliff, or eave of building; cemented to wall

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open cup of mud, moss and leaves, lined with fine grass & hair; built by female

Eggs: (2-6) White

Habitat & Range

Phoebes are loners, rarely coming in contact with other phoebes

Man-made structures & other structures, usually near running fresh water


Gray Catbird (Dumatella carolinensis)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

3-6 ft. - Found in small tree, shrub, or vine; maybe much higher

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Bulky cup of twigs, leaves, & grass; lined with fine roots, leaves, & pine needles; built by femaleEggs: (5-6) Uniform deep blue or greenish blue

Habitat & Range

Catbirds will recognize cowbird eggs and throw them out of the nest

Woodland areas with abundant vegetation


Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

3-30 ft. - Hidden in twigs and branches

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Cup of 4 layers: outer layer of rough debris, inner layers of fine materials; built by female

Eggs: (1-5) White with gray, buff, or green tinting

Habitat & Range

Males will often attack their own reflections, thinking them an intruder

Breeds in variety of deciduous, coniferous, & herbaceous vegetation


Focal Species of Western North America

Lesser Goldfinch

Mountain Bluebird

Say's Phoebe

Violet-green swallow

Western Bluebird

Western Scrub Jay


Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

4-45 ft. - Different species of trees and shrubs, such as cottonwood and willow

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open cup largely of plant fibers, lined with hair or feathers; built by female

Eggs: (2-6) Pale, with varying tints

Habitat & Range

The amount of black or green on a males back can vary in their range

Variety of deciduous or coniferous habitats in rural, suburban, & urban areas


Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currocoides)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

1-7 ft. - Natural cavities, woodpecker holes, cliff crevices, or nest boxes

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Cup of grass, weed stems, & pine needles; lined with wool, hair, or feathers; built by female

Eggs: (4-8) Pale blue, bluish white, rarely white

Habitat & Range

Although the male appears to help build the nest, he usually drops material en route.

Open areas & the edges of deciduous and coniferous forests


Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

5-50 ft. - Requires a horizontal ledge, ex: cliff, mine, barn, old car, etc.

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Cup of stems, grass, moss, & rocks; lined with paper, hair, wool, or feathers; built by female

Eggs: (3-7) White with occasional reddish spots

Habitat & Range

Breeds further north than any flycatcher, limited only by lack of nest sites

Breeds in various open & dry areas; prairies, plains, canyons, & deserts


Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

5-15 ft. - Cliff crevices, tree cavities, woodpecker holes, old swallow nests, under eaves & nest boxes

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Constructed of stems, twigs, grass, & fur; lined with feathers; built by both adults

Eggs: (4-6) White

Habitat & Range

A violet-green Swallow pair has been observed helping Western Bluebirds raise young

Open deciduous or mixed forests of ponderosa pine, aspen, willow, & spruce


Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

4-40 ft. - Natural cavities, woodpecker holes, or nest boxes

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Loose collection of grass, weeds, hair and feathers; built by females

Eggs: (3-8) Pale blue, bluish white, or white

Habitat & Range

Helpers are often seen at the nest, most are young from previous years

Open habitats with scattered trees: farmlands, orchards, open forest edge


Western Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica)

Cool Fact

Nest Location

6-12 ft. - In tree, shrub, bush, or vines; often well concealed within shrubs

Nest Type & Eggs

Nest: Open cup of twigs and plants roots, lined with plant fibers and animal hair; built by both

Eggs: (1-5) Greenish with speckles

Habitat & Range

Used in several laboratory studies for its ability to hide & remember seeds

Various trees, shrubs, and vines


NestWatch – www.nestwatch.org

Observing nests is an educational and motivational experience.

  • Remember, the birds you observe will vary depending on the region that you live. Also, you can monitor and enter data for any bird nests found, no matter the species.

  • When monitoring nests please follow the NestWatcher’s Code of Conduct.

  • For furtherinformation, please visit our website at www.nestwatch.org or search our Resource Center at www.birds.cornell.edu/nestinginfo

We are grateful to all the thousands of nest monitors who have volunteered their time and effort to monitor, record, and submit their valuable observations.


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