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How can I protect the baby birds in a nest from predators including snakes, cats, and other birds?

Nestbox with snake attacking a bird
Snakes pose a serious threat to nesting birds and can even get into nestboxes. Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar via Birdshare.

Nests of all kinds can be vulnerable to attacks from predators, such as Blue Jays, crows, grackles, and many other species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. If the nest is located in a natural position, such as in a tree, there is usually very little that can be done to protect the nest. In some situations baffles can be placed around trees to prevent climbing predators from reaching the nest. You can also discourage predators from hanging around the area by not leaving food outside. Keeping pets indoors, especially during the nesting season, can also save millions of birds every year.

If the nest is in a nest box or birdhouse, then you have a better chance of protecting the nest and its occupants. Our NestWatch project has everything you need know about birdhouses—from placing them in a good location, installing a nest box camera, finding the right house for each species, and protecting the nest box from predators. Nestwatch can also help you figure out how to deal with invasive species such as European Starlings and House Sparrows. Check out Nestwatch’s Trouble Shooting guide for other nest box concerns.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library