Birding/nesting birds

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Question
We live in southeastern North Carolina about a mile from the shore. I have two tanager nests in hanging ferns hanging on the outside porch.  I've been reluctant to water the plants since I don't know what happens if the nests get wet?  And if it's ok how much wet is too much?  At this point one nest has 4 eggs and the other has two.  There are also some birds "apartment shopping" some of the other plants and some large shrubs outside.  Is there anything special I should do to help protect them?

Answer
Well, that's a hard question to give you answer to because you can't do both - water the plants and keep the birds happy. The bottom line is that the more disturbed the birds are, the more likely they are to abandon the nest. You can water the plants carefully from the bottom, but any approach to the nest is disturbance. If the nest or eggs get wet the temperature of the eggs will be affected as will the behavior of the birds as they will have to incubate the eggs more to keep they warm. You probably need to abandon efforts to water the plants with nests but to protect the other plants, put screening over them to prevent nesting. Good luck.

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Roger Lederer

Expertise

Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.

Experience

Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of Ornithology.com . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

Education/Credentials
PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

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