Monday, January 27, 2014

Bird Nesting Time in California

Here in California where winter rains have eluded us and the days have been spring-time warm, it is hard to believe the rest of the country is shivering through ice storms and record low temperatures.

Allen's hummingbird nest 1/27/14
The birds are gauging that the warm weather means spring. The Bewick's wren is singing to attract a mate. The oak titmouse has found a mate and the pair have been checking out bird houses.

Amazingly, we already have an Allen's hummingbird sitting on two tiny eggs. I'm not sure when they were laid, but I do know that this little architect lined the inside of her nest with natural cotton fiber that I put out. The cotton fiber is the cream colored material on the inside of the nest.

January should be the depth of winter. We should have wet weather that puts a damper on nesting for another month or so. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The birds are breeding and nesting, so it is time to put out quality materials to supplement what they can find naturally.

I make a knotted holder out of natural wool yarn that is too rough for making garments. Then I fill these holders with natural raw cotton fiber. 

Hummingbirds, bushtits and lesser goldfinches are just a few birds that prefer to use soft plant fibers to line their nests. Nature's Nest.
Anna's hummingbird with Nature's Nest.

Placement is important too. Nesting fiber needs to be located where birds can find it, sit beside it on adjacent branches to gather fiber, and the location should be far enough from feeders that small birds are not intimidated by larger birds eating.

I have to make sure that nesting material is on small branches to avoid tree squirrels stealing the nesting material for their own use.

The continuing drought means plant fibers are not as abundant as they should be. Man-made fibers are easy to find around human homes, but those fibers can be problematic, even dangerous, to bird hatchlings. Materials that cause nest failure.

Bird houses should be cleaned out too, so new occupants can move in. Mosaic bird house.

It's January, but this year in California, birds are already starting to nest.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

I'm so impressed you found a hummingbird's nest. I've been wanting to find one for the longest time. The pelagic cormorants here on the coast started building their nests back in December. I have a feeling they'll be doing some remodeling once the rains come. The eggs usually don't hatch until June.

Anonymous said...

Is dryer lint dangerous for the bird nests? That is, is there anything about the climbs of dryer lint that would be dangerous for the chicks?

Dow said...

I've thought dryer lint might be a great item to recycle, while helping my beloved goldfinches and hummers at the same time. However, experts agree dryer lint should not be used for nesting material. This is excerpted from a reputable birding site: "It isn’t actually ideal at all, and can actually be dangerous for nesting birds. Because dryer lint has no strong structure, it easily falls apart and isn’t sturdy enough to build a suitable nest. Furthermore, wet lint is very sticky and can coat birds’ legs, feet, and feathers. Dryer lint dust can be hazardous to baby birds’ lungs, and the concentrated chemicals from perfumed and dyed detergents are toxic to both baby birds as well as brooding adults. Furthermore, lint with a strong odor can attract predators, bringing them right to a vulnerable nest." Thanks to that cautionary info., I've found some great, inexpensive nesting material online and will be using that instead.

Anonymous said...

Love the information. I live in SoCal. I thought it might be too early but the birds are out and about.