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Funded by: NestWatch In collaboration with: Developed by:
2 NestWatch - A citizen-science nest monitoring project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
3 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.
4 NestWatch Focal Species 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 Lesser Goldfinch Mountain Bluebird Say's Phoebe Violet-green swallow Western Bluebird Western Scrub Jay Blue Jay Carolina Chickadee Eastern Bluebird Eastern Phoebe Gray Catbird Northern Cardinal Widely DistributedEastern North America Western North America
5 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
6 American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) Habitat & Range 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 Nest Location Areas with a variety of deciduous vegetation, suburban yards 1-30 ft. - Shaded areas with dense leaf canopy Cool Fact Late nesters (June-July) & strict vegetarians!
7 American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 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 Nest Location Variety of open areas: forest edges, orchards, pastures, deserts, etc ft. - Cavities in trees, buildings, nest boxes, cliffs, & cacti Habitat & Range Cool Fact Nestlings squirt feces on the cavity walls, keeping the floor clean
8 American Robin (Turdus migratorius) Nest Type & Eggs Nest Location Wide range such as forest openings, woodlands, farmlands, yards, parks 5-50 ft. - Trees, shrubs, or buildings, usually located in a crotch 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 Cool Fact Robins can become intoxicated from eating too much honeysuckle!
9 Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Open, shallow cup of mud, grass, & hair, lined with feathers; built by both adults Eggs: (4-5) White with spotting Nest Location Breeds in variety of areas, sometimes near water As high as 100 ft. Usually stuck against a flat surface with overhead support Habitat & Range Cool Fact Unmated males will kill nestlings of a mated pair to mate with the female
10 Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 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 Nest Location Breeds in wooded areas 4-40 ft - Cavity in rotten wood, old woodpecker hole, or a nest-box Habitat & Range Cool Fact Chickadees can remember thousand s of locations where theyve hidden seeds
11 House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) 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 Nest Location Variety of urban & suburban habitats. Rarely use broad- leaf trees or cavities ft. – Pine trees, building ledges, vines, planters Habitat & Range Cool Fact Nestlings are fed an exclusive plant diet.
12 House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) 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 Nest Location Wherever there is low shrubby cover & thickets, with holes for nesting 2-20 ft - Placed in tree cavity, nest box & various crevices Habitat & Range Cool Fact Adults will puncture the eggs of other species nesting nearby
13 Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Flimsy platform of twigs, pine needles or grass stems; built by both adults Eggs: (2) White, unmarked Nest Location Breeds in open woodlands, cultivated areas, suburban gardens ft. - Trees, shrubs, vines, flower pots & man- made structures Habitat & Range Cool Fact A single pair may have up to five or six clutches in a year
14 Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 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 Nest Location Breeds in a variety of areas, usually with some sort of vegetation 3-6 ft. - Built in shrubs & trees, sometimes found in eaves & building rafters Habitat & Range Cool Fact Both males and females continue to add to their songs throughout life
15 Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 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 Nest Location Variable – wetland, upland, & agricultural; some urban or suburban 1-8 ft. - In vegetation near or over water: cattails, trees, cereal crops Habitat & Range Cool Fact One male may have up to 15 females nesting in his territory
16 Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 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 Nest Location Low scrubby growth and thickets, most often in moist or swampy locations 0-4 ft - On ground, grass tuft, or shrub; found higher as vegetation grows Habitat & Range Cool Fact Females prefer males with songs that reflect the males ability to learn
17 Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Cup of dry grass, pine needles, etc., lined with feathers; built by female Eggs: (4-7) White, unmarked Nest Location Prefers open woodlands or farmlands near water 3-30 ft. - Natural cavity, woodpecker hole, nest box, or in a man-made cavity Habitat & Range Cool Fact Using feathers in their nests helps to reduce the parasite load
18 Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Habitat & Range Nest Type & Eggs Nest Location Habitats with low or scattered trees among grassland vegetation 0-10 ft - Female cowbirds choose nests with smaller eggs & lay an egg once the host lays two eggs Nest: No nest; lays eggs in nests of other bird species Eggs: (1-7) Whitish with brown or gray spots Cool Fact They are the only brood parasite common across North America
19 Focal Species of Eastern North America Blue Jay Carolina Chickadee Eastern Bluebird Eastern Phoebe Gray Catbird Northern Cardinal
20 Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 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 Nest Location Breeds in variety of areas including woodlands, rural & suburban habitats 3-90 ft. - Tree crotches or branches, near buildings in suburban areas Habitat & Range Cool Fact The oldest known wild Blue Jay lived to be at least 17 years old!
21 Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Cavity lined with moss, bark, animal hair & plant fibers; built by female Eggs: (3-10) White with speckles Nest Location Breeds in wooded areas 2-25 ft. - Usually in dead tree hole, wooden post, or a man-made structure Habitat & Range Cool Fact Pair bonding between male and female can remain intact for several years
22 Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) 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 Nest Location Open woodland or man- made sites around farms & buildings 2-30 ft. - Natural cavity, old woodpecker hole, or nest box on a post Habitat & Range Cool Fact Males do a wing display at the nest to attract females to the cavity
23 Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) 0 Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Open cup of mud, moss and leaves, lined with fine grass & hair; built by female Eggs: (2-6) White Nest Location Man-made structures & other structures, usually near running fresh water 3-20 ft. - Under bridge, cliff, or eave of building; cemented to wall Habitat & Range Cool Fact Phoebes are loners, rarely coming in contact with other phoebes
24 Gray Catbird (Dumatella carolinensis) Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Bulky cup of twigs, leaves, & grass; lined with fine roots, leaves, & pine needles; built by female Eggs: (5-6) Uniform deep blue or greenish blue Nest Location Woodland areas with abundant vegetation 3-6 ft. - Found in small tree, shrub, or vine; maybe much higher Habitat & Range Cool Fact Catbirds will recognize cowbird eggs and throw them out of the nest
25 Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 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 Nest Location Breeds in variety of deciduous, coniferous, & herbaceous vegetation 3-30 ft. - Hidden in twigs and branches Habitat & Range Cool Fact Males will often attack their own reflections, thinking them an intruder
26 Focal Species of Western North America Lesser Goldfinch Mountain Bluebird Say's Phoebe Violet-green swallow Western Bluebird Western Scrub Jay
27 Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria) 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 Nest Location Variety of deciduous or coniferous habitats in rural, suburban, & urban areas 4-45 ft. - Different species of trees and shrubs, such as cottonwood and willow Habitat & Range Cool Fact The amount of black or green on a males back can vary in their range
28 Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currocoides) 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 Nest Location Open areas & the edges of deciduous and coniferous forests 1-7 ft. - Natural cavities, woodpecker holes, cliff crevices, or nest boxes Habitat & Range Cool Fact Although the male appears to help build the nest, he usually drops material en route.
29 Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya) 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 Nest Location Breeds in various open & dry areas; prairies, plains, canyons, & deserts 5-50 ft. - Requires a horizontal ledge, ex: cliff, mine, barn, old car, etc. Habitat & Range Cool Fact Breeds further north than any flycatcher, limited only by lack of nest sites
30 Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Constructed of stems, twigs, grass, & fur; lined with feathers; built by both adults Eggs: (4-6) White Nest Location Open deciduous or mixed forests of ponderosa pine, aspen, willow, & spruce 5-15 ft. - Cliff crevices, tree cavities, woodpecker holes, old swallow nests, under eaves & nest boxes Habitat & Range Cool Fact A violet-green Swallow pair has been observed helping Western Bluebirds raise young
31 Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) Nest Type & Eggs Nest: Loose collection of grass, weeds, hair and feathers; built by females Eggs: (3-8) Pale blue, bluish white, or white Nest Location Open habitats with scattered trees: farmlands, orchards, open forest edge 4-40 ft. - Natural cavities, woodpecker holes, or nest boxes Habitat & Range Cool Fact Helpers are often seen at the nest, most are young from previous years
32 Western Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica) 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 Nest Location Various trees, shrubs, and vines 6-12 ft. - In tree, shrub, bush, or vines; often well concealed within shrubs Habitat & Range Cool Fact Used in several laboratory studies for its ability to hide & remember seeds
33 NestWatch – 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 NestWatchers Code of Conduct. For further information, please visit our website at or search our Resource Center at 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.