Bird Nest Situations & Solutions

Mother bird and chicks © Nicholas Arguimbau
© Nicholas Arguimbau

The varied landscapes of Massachusetts provide nesting spots for nearly 200 bird species. Where nesting birds and people meet, conflicts can sometimes arise.

Nests In and On Buildings

A number of bird species nest on balconies and building ledges or in the nooks and crannies of houses. Observing these nests can be a source of enjoyment, and native species that eat insects, such as chimney swifts, barn swallows, and cliff swallows, help with pest control. Sometimes, however, nesting behavior can bring birds into conflict with people. This is often the case with the nests of non-native species such as pigeons, European starlings, and house sparrows. Learn more

Nests In Hanging Plants

If you place hanging plants on a covered porch in the spring, or leave a holiday wreath hanging on the door, you may find that by April a small, brown-streaked bird has begun to build a nest in it. This is almost certainly a female house finch, a recent arrival in the East that in the last 40 years has made itself very much at home here. Learn more

Duck Nests

Some ducks thrive in developed areas, where they can come into conflict with people. Duck pairs may swim in backyard swimming pools or nest in closed-off areas from which adults can fly but unfledged hatchlings cannot escape. Learn more

Chimney Swift Nests

Chimney swifts are the only Massachusetts bird that builds its nest and successfully raises its young in chimneys. In large chimneys or airshafts they may nest in large numbers, but in a house chimney there is only a single pair. If a homeowner determines that there is a nest in the chimney, usually by the loud chattering of the young as the parents enter with food, there is no reason for concern.

The presence of a nest will not cause a fire or spread disease. The only time it is necessary to intervene is if an active nest has fallen onto the damper or into the fireplace. In this case, every attempt should be made to return the young to the chimney so the parents can continue to care for them. Learn more