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Nest Box Monitoring An Active Approach to Wildlife Management Nest Box Monitoring Objectives Describe why we monitor Discuss required skills and available tools Discuss identification of nests and birds Describe data entry and reporting What Is Nest Box Monitoring?

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nest box monitoring

Nest Box Monitoring

An Active Approach to

Wildlife Management

nest box monitoring2
Nest Box Monitoring


  • Describe why we monitor
  • Discuss required skills and available tools
  • Discuss identification of nests and birds
  • Describe data entry and reporting
what is nest box monitoring
What Is Nest Box Monitoring?

Nest box monitoring consists of observation of nest box activity and action in promoting some species over others

  • Goal is to promote bluebird nesting on our site
    • Bluebirds are rare on Aquidneck Island due to competition for relatively few nesting cavities
  • Method is to increase the number of available nesting cavities and limit undesirable bird occupancy
    • We have placed a series of nesting boxes on our site (24 total)
    • We will monitor them weekly during the nesting season (April - August) for the presence of undesirables
    • We will remove the nests of undesirables
    • We will record the number and species of eggs and fledglings per box and in total
what skills are needed
What Skills Are Needed?

Successful monitoring requires the following skills:

  • Identification
    • Which bird?
    • Whose nest?
    • Whose eggs?
  • Observation and recording
    • How many eggs?
    • What species?
    • How many fledglings?
  • Action
    • Removal of nests belonging to house sparrows


what tools are needed
What Tools Are Needed?

Successful monitoring requires the following tools:

  • Nest Box Monitoring Guide
  • Map of nest box locations
  • Nest box monitoring data collection form
  • Pen or Pencil
  • Binoculars

Also helpful:

  • Pocket flashlight
  • Small dental mirror
how is data recorded
How Is Data Recorded?

Nest monitors use paper forms in the field and later enter information into an online database

what birds can i expect to see
What Birds Can I Expect to See?
  • House Sparrows
  • Tree Swallows
  • House Wrens
  • Chickadees
  • Bluebirds
identification house sparrow



Identification: House Sparrow

Know the enemy

  • Imported from Europe, invasive, plentiful
  • Extremely aggressive, known to kill baby bluebirds
identification house sparrow11



Identification: House Sparrow

Description: 5 – 6 ½ inches in length. Male has a black throat, white cheeks, chestnut nape, and gray crown and rump. Female and young are streaked dull brown above, dingy white below, with pale eyebrow.

Voice: Shrill, monotonous, noisy chirping

Habitat: Cities, towns, and agricultural areas

identification house sparrow12
Identification: House Sparrow

House Sparrow Nest

Nesting material:

Ball of grasses, weeds, and trash lined with feathers


3-7 (commonly 5). Shell smooth with a slight gloss. White, greenish white; spotted with grays and browns.

identification tree swallow
Identification: Tree Swallow

Description: 6 inches in length. Adult dark iridescent green-blue above; entirely snowy white below. Tail notched. Young birds are uniformly dull brown above but may be distinguished from Bank and Northern Rough-Winged Swallows by their clearer white underparts.

Voice: Cheerful series of liquid twitters

Habitat: Lakeshores, flooded meadows, marshes, and streams

Behavior: Vehement, aggressive defenders of their nests. Will circle and dive at intruders, veering off at the last minute.

identification tree swallow14
Identification: Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow Nest

Nesting material:

Accumulation of dried grasses hollowed in the center or in a corner. Lined with feathers, often placed so curved feather tips curl over eggs.


4-6 (commonly 5). Shell smooth, without gloss. Pure white.

identification house wren
Identification: House Wren

Description: 4 ½ – 5 ¼ inches in length. A tiny bird with a short tail often held cocked over its back. Dusky brown above, paler below, with no distinctive markings. Winter Wren is similar but smaller and darker, with a shorter tail and pale eyebrow.

Voice: A gurgling, bubbling, exuberant song, first rising, then falling

Habitat: Residential areas, city parks, farmlands, and woodland edges

identification house wren16
Identification: House Wren

House Wren Nest

Nesting material:

A cup of grasses, plant fibers, rootlets, feathers, hair, and rubbish on a bed of twigs


5-8 (commonly 6-7). Shell smooth with a slight gloss. White, thickly speckled with minute reddish or cinnamon-brown dots; color deeper at larger end of egg.

identification chickadee
Identification: Chickadee

Description: 4 ¾ – 5 ¾ inches in length. Black cap and throat, white cheeks, gray back, dull white underparts. Wing feathers narrowly and indistinctly edged with white.

Voice: A buzzy chick-a-dee-dee-dee or a clear, whistled fee-bee, the second note lower and often doubled

Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests and open woodlands; suburban areas in winter

identification chickadee18
Identification: Chickadee

Chickadee Nest

Nesting material:

Lined with wool, hair, fur (rabbit), moss, feathers, insect cocoons, and cottony fibers


5-10 (commonly 6-8). Shell smooth and very thin with little or no gloss. White, rather evenly spotted with reddish brown. Spots concentrated at larger end of egg.

identification bluebird


Identification: Bluebird

Description: 7 inches in length. Bright blue above and on wings and tail. Rusty throat and breast. White belly and undertail coverts. Female similar, but duller.

Voice: A liquid and musical turee or queedle. Song a soft melodious warble.

Habitat: Open woodlands and farmlands with scattered trees

identification bluebird20
Identification: Bluebird

Bluebird Nest

Nesting material:

Loosely built cup of fine grasses and weed stalks


3-6 (commonly 4-5). Shell smooth and glossy. Pale blue, bluish white, occasionally pure white. Unmarked.

how is data reported
How Is Data Reported?

An online reporting tool provides sortable status report of nesting activity

how is data reported22
How Is Data Reported?

Data is collated at the end of each nesting season and sent to the Wildlife Habitat Council to enhance survey data of species in the area

for further information
For Further Information
  • Nest box monitors will each receive a “Nest Box Monitoring Guide”
  • Others who are interested may download the guide from the REWHC web site at
  • For more information, contact:

Edgar Ortiz ext. 3432

Bill Saslow ext. 3461