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Photo © Al Tuttle

The nest is too high and I cannot see the contents. Do you have some suggestions?

Yes, but the ideal method depends on the actual height of the nest. There are several options available.

If it is less than about six feet off the ground, you may be able to see the contents using a stepladder or a ladder. Stay alert and be very careful. Breeding birds most often protect their nest by diving at potential predators like you. Do not let them break your concentration!

If the nest is not accessible using a ladder but is still less than 15 feet off the ground, you can try using a long pole with a mirror attached to it. You could also embrace a new technology and use a telescoping smartphone mount (i.e., a “selfie stick”). Some models can extend up to 32′ (10 m) and most allow for adjusting the angle of the camera. The devices use Bluetooth technology, or your camera’s timer, and work with a wide variety of smartphone models.

When all else fails, and the nest is simply out of reach or if it is not readily accessible such as in a swamp, we recommend you do not attempt to look at the contents directly. Your safety and the safety of the nest should be your first priority. However, if you see birds close to the nest, watch their behavior through binoculars or a scope. If you see them bring twigs or food (e.g., an insect), it means that they are building a nest or feeding young. Such observations make up a nest record and can be reported. Review the nine stages of the nesting cycle to help guide your observations.


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Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology