images of nest boxes

Nest Box Program

Many species of bird that use grasslands for forage and cover do not necessarily nest directly in the grasses. Some require natural cavities, which often come in the form of old woodpecker holes in snags (dead, standing trees). For this reason, you should leave snags untouched on your property so long as they don’t pose a safety hazard.

Fewer available snags mean fewer cavities, so installing nest boxes can help fill the gap. Nest boxes also allow researchers to band and track adult and fledgling birds, providing insights to breeding biology, movement, foraging, and habitat preferences.

Finally, nest boxes are another way landowners can connect and engage with many at-risk bird species, generating an even greater level of stewardship over those birds and the habitats on which they depend.

Photo by Hugh Kenny/PEC

VGBI offers the following services for nest boxes:

  • Advice on which cavity-nesting species could benefit from nest boxes on your property
  • Advice on where to place those nest-boxes
  • Options for procuring the boxes you need

Contact VGBI’s Coordinator Justin Proctor (ProctorCJ@si.edu) or Co-Coordinator October Greenfield (ogreenfield@pecva.org) for assistance.

Building your own boxes:

Cornell’s NestWatch website is a treasure trove of great information on nest box building, placement, installation and orientation. 

Watch our video to learn how researchers monitor nest boxes and band American Kestrels!