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Rare Nest Box Occupants

House Finches are common birds known to nest around human habitations, but they are only rarely documented using nest boxes. We spoke to two NestWatchers who have House Finches using nest boxes they monitor, and we share their fascinating stories. This month’s blog post also contains tips on what to look for if you think you might have them, too! Check it out on our blog.


A Major Milestone

Many NestWatchers have heard about our efforts to digitize the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s historical collection of nest record cards. This work has involved three years of scanning paper forms, transcribing the handwritten notes, and cleaning the data. We are thrilled to announce that this month, we have begun uploading the first datasets into NestWatch. Wood Ducks, Killdeer, and Mountain Bluebirds were the first 3 species sets uploaded, yielding a total of 6,736 records spanning from 1920–2010. There are dozens more species waiting to be uploaded as fast as we can process them!


This work is ongoing, and your help is still needed to quicken the pace! There are numerous species remaining to be digitized through our Nest Quest Go! project. Get the details here, and join in if you can.


Tips for High Heat

Many places are experiencing higher-than-normal temperatures right now, and this leads to questions about how to help nesting birds endure the heat, particularly those in nest boxes. Here are our top six suggestions:

  • maintain a birdbath nearby if there isn’t a close natural water source
  • in beach or rooftop nesting colonies, chick shelters can offer shade to shorebird young
  • place nest boxes to receive afternoon shade
  • paint nest boxes a light color
  • use 1″ thick lumber for nest boxes (avoid thin pieces of wood)
  • consider adding a heat shield to your nest box if you expect multiple days over 100°F

Remember, it’s normal for birds to breathe with an open beak (called “gular fluttering”) when temperatures climb. Resist the urge to provide hands-on help (e.g., don’t attempt to administer fluids to birds, don’t take nestlings inside to “cool off,” etc.), and as always, wait until a box is unoccupied to make adjustments (to avoid stressing young and parents). 


New Chapter in New Hampshire

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to the newest NestWatch Chapter, the NH Audubon Massabesic Center, in Auburn, New Hampshire. This chapter is headed by Logan Young and Kimmie Whiteman. The NH Audubon Massabesic Center has recorded nest data with NestWatch since 2013, and Logan and Kimmie look forward to improving their skills, making more use of NestWatch resources, and connecting with other organizations around the country. Welcome!

View all NestWatch Chapters on our Chapter Map.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology