your sense of place

Photo © Keith Williams
Photo © Neill Harriet

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). 

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology