We know the backyard birds that usually nest in our birdhouses: House Wrens, Chickadees, Bluebirds, and House Finches. But what about our other backyard birds, like the Cardinal, Blue Jay, Goldfinch, Robins, Hummingbirds or Orioles? Where do they nest?
Cardinal nests are usually very well hidden in dense shrubs or trees, about 3-10 feet above the ground. The cup-shaped nests are loosely built of twigs, plants, leaves and lined with fine grasses and hair. The nests are about 4-5 inches in diameter. Cardinals usually lay 3-4 eggs, which are pale, bluish to greenish white with brown spots and blotches. They will raise 2-3 broods a season.
Blue Jays will nest in trees, usually 10-25 feet above the ground. The nests are bulky, cup-shaped and made of fresh twigs, bark, dry leaves and grasses. Their nests are 7-8 inches in diameter. Blue Jays will lay 4-6 eggs, which are shades of olive, blue and tan, spotted with brown near the larger end. They raise 1-2 broods a year.
Robins nest on any tree branch, in a shrub or on any substantial ledge. Nests are made of grass, twigs, and feathers, strips of cloth or paper, moss and held together with mud. The nest is 6-8 inches in diameter. Robin’s eggs are easily recognizable by the blue color. Three to four eggs are laid at a time, with 2 broods a year.
Goldfinch nests are 4-10 feet above ground in trees, shrubs and even tall weeds. The nests are cup-shaped and small, about 2 ½ to 4 inches in diameter. Goldfinches use twigs, spider webs, and plant fibers and lined with thistle down. Goldfinches are our latest nesting bird, waiting for the thistle down to bloom. The average Goldfinch nest contains 5 eggs. The eggs are pale bluish white or greenish blue and are unmarked.
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird nests 10-20 feet above the ground. Their small nests, about 1-2 inches in diameter, are usually found attached to and near the tip of a down-slopping branch of a tree. They make their nest from plant down and bud scales. The nest is attached to the tree limb with spider webs, and covered with lichens. Hummingbirds lay 1-3 eggs per brood and the eggs are less than an inch long and white. They will raise 1-3 broods a year.
Baltimore Oriole nests can be found in any deciduous trees, but they are especially fond of cottonwood, willow and apple trees. Their nests are commonly found 25-30 feet above ground. Orioles build an intricately woven deep pouch made of plant fibers, hair, yarn, and fine grasses. They lay one brood of 4-5 eggs. The eggs are a pale, grayish white or pale bluish white, with streaked, blotched spots of browns and black.
Can you match the eggs to one of these four common nestbox inhabitants? Take a look at the video below!