IN VIEW of the fact that birds display much activity about their nests there is a great advantage in studying the nesting bird. Once locate an occupied nest, and by quietly watching for a time, your field glass and bird guide will usually enable you to learn the owner’s name. If you do not know where any nest is to be found go out and hunt for one. This in itself will be an exciting sport, although it should be pursued with good judgment. Children unattended should not be permitted to hunt nests in spring. A very excellent way to find one is to keep a sharp watch upon birds at the time when they are engaged in nest building.
Nest Hunting.By noticing every bird suspected of being interested in domestic affairs, you are pretty sure to see one before long with grass, twigs, rootlets, or something of the kind in its bill. Now watch closely, for you are in a fair way to discover a nest. The bird may not go directly to the spot. If it suspects it is being watched it may hop from twig to twig and from bush to bush for many minutes before revealing its secret, and if it becomes very apprehensive it may even drop its burden and begin a search for insects with the air of one who had never even dreamed of building a nest. Even when unsuspicious it will not always go directly to the nest. From an outhouse I once watched a Blue Jay, with a twig, change its perch more than thirty times before going to the fork where its nest was being built.
Sometimes a bird may be induced to reveal its secret by placing in its sight tempting nesting material. By this means Mrs. Pearson last summer found a Redstart’s nest. Discovering a female industriously hopping about near the camp, and suspecting what it was seeking, she dropped some ravellings of a white cotton string from the veranda railing, letting them fall where the bird could see them. These proved most acceptable, and the Redstart immediately appropriated them, one at a time, with the result that she soon betrayed her nest.
Early morning is the best time of the day to find birds working at their nests, for then they are most active. Perhaps a reason for this is that the broken twigs, leaves, and dead grasses, wet with the dews of night, are more pliable, and consequently more easily woven into place.
For nesting sites birds as a rule prefer the open country. Rolling meadowlands, with orchards, thickets, and occasional streams, are ideal places for birds in spring.