Steps to help baby cavity nesters reunite with parents

Cavity nesters are defined as birds that build nests, lay eggs and raise young within a sheltered chamber. Sometimes this is a dead tree, rafters in the barn or even cliffs. This is the type of bird that inhabits your bird house. Common cavity nesters in Colorado are woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, swallows, wrens, and bluebirds. 

If you find a damaged or fallen nests of these species, please follow the steps below to safely reunite them with their feathered families in a new nest:

  1. Obtain a large plastic jug with a handle, like a gallon-sized milk jug, that is big enough to fit the full nest of baby birds. Make sure the container is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Poke holes in the bottom for moisture drainage. This is critical for the safety of the nest.

2. Cut a square into the side of the container that is two to three inches from the bottom to secure the nest. Only cut three sides of the square – the sides and bottom – to create an awning of sorts. Make sure the hole is about two inches on all sides for the parent bird to perch on the edge and feed their young nestlings.

3. Pack nesting material into the bottom of the container – ideally the remnants of the original nest. If that’s not available, dry grass in the next best option. Tightly pack the material to support the babies by pushing and cupping the material into bottom and up the sides. It should be large enough to snugly hold the little ones with the bottom of the nest about an inch below the square hole.

4. Secure a wire around the top of the container to be used as a fastener to tie the new nest up into a tree – as close as possible to the original nest. Parents find their young based on location. Look for signs like nesting material or feces.

5. Tuck babies gently into the nest with the feet tugged underneath them. You should be able to see their heads through the square hole. Monitor from a distance for one to two hours to see if the parents care for the babies. If there is no contact from the parents within that time period, contact Greenwood for next steps.

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