“Waiter! There’s a Nest in my Stoop!” What to do with those misplaced nests?

Photo Courtesy WBU.com

A Wild Birds Unlimited Clearwater/Safety Harbor Florida fan and friend recently shared her experiences and delight in watching a Carolina Wren nest that had been built in a bucket in her garage. Thank you, Tracie Weichman! And this begs the question… “What does one do with an errant nest?” It’s a very common occurrence here in Florida; we come home to find a very obvious wild bird nest tidily constructed in a corner of a front porch, on a window sill, in a garage or above a carport. Our immediate thought is, “Well… Now what?” Because –while completely harmless– a poorly placed nest can cause problems for both Florida homeowner and for Florida’s wild birds.¬†

An ill-placed nest can cause:

  • Damage to the areas where it has been placed.
  • Danger to the wild bird family as they attempt to leave or enter the area to feed.
  • Danger to the wild bird family from fumes or other human-based supplies/activities common in garages, sheds or interior/exterior areas.
  • Problems with the homeowners who need to enter, exit or use the area where a diligent wild bird parent may feel the need to defend its territory.

These are all valid reasons to be concerned about an errant nest. But, it’s not the end of the world! Most of Florida’s wild birds likely to build a nest in a cozy corner of a garage, porch, shed or deck would include swallows, blue birds, finches and, generally… smaller birds who commonly breed and feed close to more urban fixtures and living areas. They find the shelter and security highly appealing, and… they would be right. During Florida’s wicked storms, a tightly enclosed porch corner or quiet shelf in a garage can be quite the piece of real estate for Florida’s wild birds.

A cozy spot where they are free from predatory detection and consistent disturbances from Florida’s weather and social activity makes for a safe and secure spot in which they may lay their eggs and care for their young in serene comfort.

Photo Courtesy of WBU.com

So what to do?¬†Basically, nothing needs to be done. A nest built in an unsecure area where it has a loose footing or foundation, will not see the completion of its construction and will likely fall apart during the build. The bird will eventually give up once it realizes the spot isn’t conducive to a secure nesting area and it will move on.

If a nest is placed in a spot where it is dry, secure and out of the way of any interruption, the best course of action is to enjoy the guests for the meager weeks they will be visiting.

Follow these few simple – and courteous- rules and all will end well:

  • If the nest has been built in a garage, shed or other outbuilding that is normally closed, ensure a crack in a door or window is made available so your wild bird guests can safely enter and exit as needed.
  • If the nest is near an entryway, on a door (some nests have been built on/in wreaths and door decor) try to opt for another entry or exit for yourself until the guests have left. Yes, this may prove an inconvenience, but it’s a small and temporary one.
  • If the nest is placed in an area that is deemed unsafe, all attempts must be made to accommodate the nest and its inhabitants. According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is a federal offense to disturb a wild bird nest. Most wild birds will inspect an area well and, if danger is evident, they will leave the nesting spot for safer pastures.
swallows on porch babies in nest

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Aikens

While an ill-placed nest can be a nuisance, no one likes being bolted in the head by an angry Swallow… nor is the bird poop artwork very appealing… however, the short amount of time the guests are in residence is minor… a month to, maybe 6 weeks. Because of this, simple prevention is the best medicine.

Follow these methods to prevent further intrusion:

  • Place a wild bird predator decoy near any areas where nesting activity has or may occur. Owls, Hawks and other predatory decoys can help prevent nest building in unwanted areas.
  • Close all windows and doors to outbuildings, garages and sheds. If windows or doors must be kept open, block openings with harmless screening to avoid wild bird entry.
  • Place blocks of wood, mesh wire cones or other harmless obstruction items on top of areas where nest building may be appealing.
  • Place a mirror facing outward in the spot where nesting may be preferred.
  • Place a chime or other noisy decor near the preferred nesting spot.

While ill-placed nests can be a bother, WBU Clearwater/Safety Harbor suggests the opportunity to observe the nest and its wild bird family far outweighs the “nuisance” factor. Since the family is only in residence for a short while, we suggest taking the opportunity to learn about the wild bird family that has found your home to be a safe and comfortable place in which to raise their young. Photos can be carefully taken and shared on our Facebook page or website. Food can be supplied and their activities can be enjoyed by your own family. An up close and direct view of Florida’s wild birds is an excellent opportunity to learn more about their interesting lives! Take advantage of it!

swallow nest on back porch

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Aikens



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Hammock Bird Banding

A dynamic update on the Migratory Bird Banding Project in Hammock Park, Dunedin, Florida.

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