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Project NestWatch Focal Species

Project NestWatch accepts data on all nesting birds in Canada.

On this page you will find nesting information for common species that we encourage you to focus on. All of these species nest near people (in parks, rural areas, and even backyards).

Eastern Bluebirds, House Wrens, Tree Swallows, and Black-capped Chickadees use nest boxes. House Sparrows will nest just about anywhere, and are sometimes found in nest boxes built for other species.

Installing a nest box on your property is a great way to start nest watching!

To avoid jeopardizing nesting success, all observers must approach nests with care and caution. By following the code of conduct below, you will reduce the risk of attracting predators to a nest; causing unintentional harm to a nest; or causing adults to desert a nest.

American Robin

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Eastern Bluebird

House Sparrow

House Wren

Tree Swallow


Photo: Di Qiu
American Robin
Turdus migratorius

Photo: Mark Peck

Nesting Facts

Nest Location

  • Yards, parks, farms, woodlots
  • In trees, shrubs, or on the outside of buildings

Nest Type

  • Open cup of grass, twigs, and mud
  • Built by female

Eggs

  • Clutch size: 2-5 eggs
  • Incubation period: 11-14 days
  • Incubated by female

Young

  • Nestling period: 14-16 days
  • Both male and female feed nestlings

Broods

  • 1-3 broods/year
Barn Swallow
Hirundo rustica

Photo: George Peck

Nesting Facts

Nest Location

  • Barns, sheds, boathouses, bridges, culverts

Nest Type

  • Open cup of mud and dry grass; lined with feathers
  • Fixed to side of structure; on beams, ledges, etc.
  • Built by male and female

Eggs

  • Clutch size: 3-7 eggs
  • Incubation period: 12-17 days
  • Incubated mostly by female

Young

  • Nestling period: 17-24 days
  • Both male and female feed nestlings

Broods

  • 1-2 broods/year

Photo: Mark Peck
Black-capped Chickadee
Poecile attricapillus

Photo: George Peck

Nesting Facts

Nest Location

  • Wooded habitats, parks
  • Tree cavities and nest boxes

Nest Type

  • Small cup with moss base; lined with soft materials such as fur
  • Both male and female excavate nest cavity; female builds the nest

Eggs

  • Clutch size: 6-8 eggs
  • Incubation period: 12-13 days
  • Incubated by female

Young

  • Nestling period: 16 days
  • Both male and female feed nestlings

Broods

  • 1 brood/year

Photo: Mark Peck
Eastern Bluebird
Sialia sialis

Nesting Facts

Nest Location

  • Open areas: yards, parks, farms
  • Tree cavities and nest boxes

Nest Type

  • Shallow cup of grass; lined with fine grass and occasionally feathers
  • Built by female

Eggs

  • Clutch size: 3-7 eggs
  • Incubation period: 12-15 days
  • Incubated by female

Young

  • Nestling period: 17-20 days
  • Both male and female feed nestlings

Broods

  • 1-3 broods/year

Photo: Rick Leche
House Sparrow
Passer domesticus

Photo: Mark Peck

Nesting Facts

Nest Location

  • Urban and rural areas
  • Nest boxes and infrastructure

Nest Type

  • Grass, plant stems, feathers, debris
  • Deep cup lined with soft material
  • Untidy nest

Eggs

  • Clutch size: 3-6 eggs
  • Incubation period: 10-14 days
  • Both male and female incubate eggs

Young

  • Nestling period: 14 days
  • Both male and female feed nestlings

Broods

  • 1-4 broods/year

Photo: Mark Peck
House Wren
Troglodytes aedon

Photo: Mark Peck

Nesting Facts

Nest Location

  • Shrubby to open woodland habitats
  • Tree cavities and nest boxes

Nest Type

  • Twig base
  • Small cup of plant stems and roots, lined with grass and feathers
  • Built by male and female

Eggs

  • Clutch size: 4-8 eggs
  • Incubation period: 12-14 days
  • Incubated by female

Young

  • Nestling period: 15-17 days
  • Both male and female feed nestlings

Broods

  • 1-2 broods/year

Photo: Mark Peck
Tree Swallow
Tachycineta bicolor

Photo: Mark Peck

Nesting Facts

Nest Location

  • Open woodland or farmland habitats
  • Near water
  • Tree cavities or nest boxes

Nest Type

  • Loose nest of dry grass and stems
  • Cup lined with fluffy feathers that curl over eggs
  • Built by female

Eggs

  • Clutch size: 3-7 eggs
  • Incubation period: 13-14 days
  • Incubated by female

Young

  • Nestling period: 18-22 days
  • Both male and female feed nestlings

Broods

  • 1 brood/year

References:

Baicich, Paul J. and Colin J. O. Harrison. 2005. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Second Edition. Princeton University Press. New Jersey.

Brown, Charles R. and Mary Bomberger Brown. 1999. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/452 doi:10.2173/bna.452

Foote, Jennifer R., Daniel J. Mennill, Laurene M. Ratcliffe and Susan M. Smith. 2010. Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/039 doi:10.2173/bna.39

Gowaty, Patricia Adair and Jonathan H. Plissner. 1998. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/381 doi:10.2173/bna.381

Johnson, L. Scott. 1998. House Wren (Troglodytes aedon), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/380 doi:10.2173/bna.380

Lowther, Peter E. and Calvin L. Cink. 2006. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/012 doi:10.2173/bna.12

Peck, George K. and Ross D. James. 1987. Breeding birds of Ontario: Nidiology and distribution, Vol 2: passerines. Life Sci. Misc. Pub., Royal Ontario Museum. Toronto.

Sallabanks, Rex and Frances C. James. 1999. American Robin (Turdus migratorius), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/462 doi:10.2173/bna.462

Winkler, David W., Kelly K. Hallinger, Daniel R. Ardia, R. J. Robertson, B. J. Stutchbury and R. R. Cohen. 2011. Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/011 doi:10.2173/bna.11

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