As Spring arrives, take action to keep nesting raptors and other birds safe. Consider installing a nest box and do not trim or remove trees until the fall. Many species, including American Kestrels, Barn Owls, and Northern Saw-whet Owls, don't build nests but require existing cavities for raising their young. They will nest in natural rock or tree cavities but will also readily use man-made cavities such as nest boxes.
Frequently, TRC is called to rescue clutches of young raptors when nests are unintentionally destroyed. Northern Saw-what Owls, for example, are tiny owls (less than 100g!) and the entrance to their nest cavity can be very small as well. You may not even know you have a family of nesting owls in your yard until it's too late. That’s why we recommend avoiding tree removal until the fall when the birds are done with their nests.
By installing nest boxes before the birds start looking for places to nest, you could help a pair of raptors find a safe, healthy, and permanent nest location to raise their family rather than an unsuitable location.
Barn Owls, for example, will often nest in the cracks in haystacks. Although it might seem like a cozy place to nest, it doesn't always end up well. If the haystack is moved, the birds lose their nest site or can even be crushed. One year, TRC admitted 19 baby Barn Owls within 24 hours after the three clutches lost their haystack nests. All 19 owls were successfully re-nested in active Barn Owl nest boxes with wild foster parents.
American Kestrels and other birds will sometimes seek nest sites in chimneys and even vault toilet ventilation pipes. In these cases, the bird is trapped unless it is rescued. Learn more about how we're keeping birds out of these cavities.
Nest boxes are a much better option for cavity-nesters. Purchase a nest box in the Teton Raptor Center shop. Learn more about installation below.
These nest sites may be used as foster nests for orphaned or displaced birds. Young birds have the best chance at survival if they are raised by wild parents. Fortunately, raptors and many other birds will adopt young birds if they are placed into their nest and close in age to the other young. The information you provide could help an orphaned or displaced bird get a second chance at life in the wild!
Nest Observation Form
Photos of the nest and birds are very helpful. Photos can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: nest info photos for database