Help Scientists Learn about Nesting Success

Many people put up birdhouses to attract nesting birds. Even without putting up a birdhouse, it isn’t uncommon to find a nest in your yard or at a nearby park. When we lived in town, I frequently had robins build nests in the curve of my downspout or in the tree outside my living room window. Now that I am at the farm, there is a pair of phoebes who insist on building at least one nest every year on my front porch. I’ve also found woodpecker nests in our woods and I know hummingbirds have nested in two of our backyard trees although I never could find their nests.

If you are like me, you enjoy finding active nests. It’s fun to watch the birds and see the nestlings grow up, but did you know it can be more than just “fun.” By watching the nest on a regular basis and reporting what you observe, you can help scientists learn more about the nesting success of different bird species in different parts of the country.

NestWatch is a citizen science project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Participants in the project sign up online, then observe an active nest every 3-4 days and report what they see. The website provides information about how to safely monitor the nest while reducing the risk of injury or predation to the birds. There is also lots of information about different bird species. Anyone with access to the Internet can participate in the project and you can enter the data on a mobile device or a computer. If you have a birdhouse or know where there is an active nest, I encourage you to take a look at the NestWatch website and see if you would like to participate in this nationwide citizen science project.

Bluebird eggs in a nestbox. Photo credit: USFWS, public domain

This article was part of Shannon’s original Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blog which evolved into the blog for Backyard Ecology.

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at

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