June is bird nesting month

June is Nesting Season by Myrna Pearman

June 07, 2023 | Myrna Pearman, Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA)

Myrna Pearman, Resident Naturalist & Backyard Bird Feeding Expert
Myrna Pearman, Resident Naturalist & Backyard Bird Feeding Expert

This article is part of our "Ask Myrna" Backyard Bird Feeding Series

Across the Canadian Prairies, June and July are the most active and interesting bird-related months of the year because it is nesting season!

Upon arrival at their breeding grounds, birds need to recover from their migration before commencing the challenging tasks of setting up territories, finding mates, building their nests and raising their families. The peak of courtship behaviours— ranging from singing, drumming and pecking—occurs in June.

Some birds, like the ground-nesting native sparrows that are especially vulnerable to predation, complete their nesting cycle in just a few short weeks. Others, especially those that may raise more than one brood each season, have a nesting season that is stretched out over a longer period of time.

The most important consideration for gardeners and backyard bird enthusiasts at this time of year is to reduce human-caused vulnerabilities and to actively support our avian neighbours as they expend precious energy creating the next generation of their species.

The best way to attract and support nesting birds is to create habitat within which they can safely find their own necessities of life: namely food, water and shelter.

Food: Insects are the most important food source for almost all the bird species that nest across the prairies. Insects are also important pollinators. Therefore, avoiding cosmetic pesticides and planting native/insect-attracting/nectar-rich ground covers, annuals, perennials, shrub and trees will help provide critical food sources for a wide variety of species. Supplemental food, such as sunflower chips and suet blocks, can also be offered during the spring/summer months.

Water: Water, important for both bathing and drinking, can be offered from water barrels, bird baths and in-ground ponds. Mud, easily created by letting a hose slowly drip over a bare patch of ground, will also be used in nest construction by various species.

Shelter: Birds, and other wildlife, will find their own shelter as long as suitable habitat can be found. To increase the quality of shelter—which provides birds protection from predators and the elements as well as nesting sites—replace as much lawn as is feasible with wildlife plantings, leave natural areas in your yard/farm, leave a few dead trees (snags), create brush piles, and set out nestboxes/brackets/baskets.

Other ways to help our backyard birds during the nesting season include reducing window strikes (https://abcbirds.org/blog20/make-windows-safe/ ), and making sure that cats are kept indoors or in a catio at all times (https://www.audubon.org/news/how-stop-cats-killing-birds ).