I spent my morning making nesting boxes for the NestWatch project.
NestWatch is a nest monitoring program developed by the Cornell lab of Ornithology. The goal is to monitor populations and reproduction of North American breeding birds. Cornell uses what they refer to as “citizen science” to get the public involved at a volunteer level and gather data. They have a variety of different “citizen science” based programs that run throughout the year, and are suitable for any skill or education level.
Participants in the NestWatch program may choose to monitor natural nests they find in any location, or they may place and monitor nesting boxes. They are encouraged to do both. The data collected is then entered through the website where it joins thousands of other entries from the past 40 years. In fact, this program was originally run offline, with participants filling out data cards, and the data was stored manually, but for this reason was not widely accessible.
Nestboxes are made from natural untreated wood, preferably pine, cedar or fir. There are a variety of building plans available through the website that are designed to attract different species. For the fist six, we decided to build boxes that would be suitable to chickadees and other similar size birds.
Once built, complete with one opening side for nest monitoring and appropriate ventilation and drainage holes, a handful of wood shavings is used to line the bottom of each box. The boxes are placed in areas where they can be checked 1-2 times per week. For each box there is a data sheet to record the findings, which are then entered on the website. A number is assigned to the box, which will help to organize data sheets and keep track of locations.
With six nest boxes built and hung, I am looking forward to checking them. My birdfeeders attract a good variety of birds to the yard, and I am hoping some of our visitors will move in and raise families.
If you are interested in getting involved, visit www.nestwatch.org for further information, instructions and to sign up.