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Photo © Al Tuttle

What is the difference between a nest site, nest visit, and nest attempt?

All three of these terms refer to the NestWatch data entry process:

  • A nest site is the physical location of the nest. A nest site can contain multiple attempts and can represent a cup nest, a nest box, or any other nest structure. When you create a nest site, you will be asked to choose a description of the nest and describe its general surroundings.
  • A nest visit is a single event where you visit the nest and collect data about the nesting attempt, such as number of eggs, number of live young, etc. present on that day. Visits should last no longer than 60 seconds and occur only once every 3 to 4 days at most.
  • A nest attempt describes a nest from egg laying to fledging (or another fate) and represents the totality of your nest visits. You should create a new nest attempt in NestWatch each time a pair begins a new clutch. Once the nest fledges or fails and you are done recording nest visits, you should summarize the attempt by entering the outcome and other summary information, and then click “End This Attempt” to close it out. Once you have done this, you will again have the option to “Add an Attempt” to that nest site, which will allow you to create additional attempts to report on subsequent nests built at that nest site.

Note: Many nest sites representing an open cup nest have only one nest attempt recorded, and then may never be used again. However, nest boxes are often used repeatedly, and it is particularly important for nest box monitors to separately record each nesting within the same nest box as a unique attempt. Do not record nest visits indefinitely under a single attempt unless you are keeping track of empty nests. Nest attempts that contain data from more than one nesting would be inaccurate, and therefore, much more difficult to interpret. If you have questions about when it is appropriate to begin a new nesting attempt, please contact us.

Please use this webpage to view our data structure and scroll down for more definitions.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology