5 Ways You Can Help Nesting Birds

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Although it may seem like winter will never end, rest assured spring is headed our way! With spring comes breeding season for many of our native birds. One of the most rewarding experiences you can have through backyard birding is observing bird courtship behaviour, and helping them establish families right in your own backyard. There are some practices you can follow to assist your backyard birds, and to ensure you get the most out of this year's nesting season. Here are 5 tips to help you help your birds during this busy time of year.
Male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) with fledglings

1. Provide a consistent source of water
Providing a consistent source of drinking and bathing water is probably the most important element you can incorporate in to your regular backyard birding regime. It is a requirement year-round, but is especially important during nesting season to help keep active birds hydrated. Often times parents will first guide their fledglings to a water source to learn to drink and bathe, before even teaching them how to find food for themselves. Be sure to keep your water source clean, and refresh the water often to reduce the growth of bacteria.
Male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) at a WBU Heated Bird Bath

2. Offer protein-rich foods 
Similar to winter feeding, nesting birds need protein-rich foods to help replace the calories burned with all the extra activity they're required to do. Did you know that robin parents feed their young every few minutes from just before sunrise until late in the evening? That's a lot of trips for mom and dad to make! Offer foods such as live mealworms (freeze-dried are available as well, but less desirable), BarkButter Bits, and WBU Plus Blends which include added calcium to strengthen egg shells, and help baby birds grow to their full potential.
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) adult feeding fledgling a mealworm

3. Landscape with birds in mind
An important aspect of backyard birding is providing natural habitat. Research native plants that birds are drawn to in your area, and incorporate them in to your landscape to help attract nesting birds to your yard. Try to include a variety of plants that grow to different heights to help provide cover at all levels (ex. tall trees, medium bushes, short grasses, wildflowers, rock features), and always try to keep pesticide and herbicide use to an absolute minimum. You may even want to consider installing a nesting box (or a few!) depending on which birds are in your area. Check out this article from WBU for more great nesting information, and talk to us in-person or online to discuss which boxes will suit your yard best. 

4. Keep cats indoors
Free-roaming domestic cats are a huge threat on wild bird populations all over the globe. It is estimated that they kill anywhere from 97 million to 325 million birds annually in North America alone. Not only are cats dangerous for the birds, but other native wildlife such as reptiles and amphibians suffer major losses as well. For more information on this topic, check out last week's blog 'Caring for Our Cats and Wild Birds'.
"The Catio" A safe option for allowing cats outdoor time
5. Leave them be
With all the excitement of finding an active nest in your yard, it's easy to get caught up in sneaking a peek whenever you get the chance. It is very important that you leave them be. When you check on a nest frequently you will inevitably scare the parents off, leaving eggs or nestlings vulnerable to the elements and open to predators. This is just as important when you find fledglings on the ground. Parents will leave their young on the ground unattended while searching for food and water. Unless you are 100% sure the bird is in distress, do not pick them up. Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge has provided some great information on what to do if you have found an animal in distress, which you can find here.

We love to hear your stories and see your amazing photos, so be sure to share them with us via the WBU Barrie Facebook and Instagram pages!

Happy birding!

- Shayna


  1. Great job Shayna, super information!

    1. Shayna @ WBU BarrieMarch 1, 2019 at 10:25 AM

      Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it!
      ~ Shayna

  2. Hello
    very nice and informative, everything I could not translate it would be possible if you add a translator program in your blog ..?
    Thank you for showing me
    Greetings Frank

    1. Thanks Frank. We will see what we can do! :)