Bird BiosTypical Timetables: How Long Will it Take to Nest?

Typical Timetables: How Long Will it Take to Nest?

Bluebird, Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Western Bufflehead Chickadee, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Carolina Chickadee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Mountain Flicker, Gilded Flicker, Northern Flycather, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Great Crested Goldeneye, Common Kestrel, American House Sparrow Merganser, Hooded Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Owl, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Screech Eastern Owl, Screech Western Purple Martin Prothonotary Warbler Starling, European Swift, Chimney Titmouse, Black-crested Titmouse, Bridled Titmouse, Juniper Titmouse, Oak Titmouse, Tufted Tree Swallow Violett-Green Swallow Wood Duck Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-cockaded Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Carolina Wren, House Select the species you want to check on in the drop down box, or scroll down this page.

Here are some common questions about nesting timetables. The answers depend on a variety of factors. Birds don’t read books! And not all books agree. That is because the timeframes can depend on the species, location, individual experience, temperatures, food supplies, disturbance, and many other factors. The table below shows a typical nesting timetables for a variety of common small cavity nesters that are often found in nestboxes.

Question? Primarily depends on: More Info
How long does it take to build a nest? Depends on the availability of nest sites, competition, availability of nesting material, the species (e.g., whether both male and female build) See individual species
How many eggs will they lay? Depends on the species, food availability, time of year, age of female More info
When does incubation begin? Usually on the last, or next to last (penultimate) egg, depending on the species. See individual species
How long do they incubate the eggs for? Depends the species and temperature (hot temperatures may accelerate, cold may slow, extremes may kill embryos See individual species
How long till the babies fledge (leave the nest)? Depends on the species, health, disturbance (e.g., may cause premature fledging), hatch dates (e.g., latest hatcher may fledge later than the rest of the brood) and individual courage See individual species
How many broods will they have? Depends on species, location, food and mate availability, climate and competition. More info

(Scientific Name)

# Eggs Incubation begins Incubation
# Broods
More Info
Bluebird – Eastern
(Sialia sialis) *
3-7 12-18 12-19 (17-18 typical) Biology
Bluebird – Mountain
(Sialia currucoides) *
13-14 17-22 +/- Biology
Bluebird – Western
(Sialia mexicana) *
13-14 18-24 +/- Biology
Ash-throated Flycatcher(Myiarchus cinerascens) * Biology
Bewick’s Wren
(Thryomanes bewickii)
Black-crested Titmouse Biology
Black-capped Chickadee
(Poecile atricapilla) *
Boreal Chickadee
(Poecile hudsonica) x
Bridled Titmouse
(Baeolophus wollweberi)
Brown-headed Nuthatch
(Sitta pusilla) x
BBS Map | Biology
Carolina Chickadee
(Poecile carolinensis) *
Carolina Wren
(Thryothorus ludovicianus)
Chestnut Backed Chickadee
(Poecile rufescens) x
Downy Woodpecker
(Picoides pubescens)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
(Passer montanus)
Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) x Biology
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) Biology
House Sparrow
(Passer domesticus) *
House Wren
(Troglodytes aedon) *
Last egg 13 15-17 2 Biology
Juniper Titmouse
(Baeolophus ridgwayi)
Mountain Chickadee
(Poecile gambeli) x
Oak Titmouse
(Baeolophus inornatus) x
Prothonotary Warbler
(Protonotaria citrea)
Purple Martin
(Progne subis)
Pygmy Nuthatch
(Sitta pygmaea) x
Red-breasted Nuthatch
(Sitta canadensis)
Starling, European(Sturnus vulgaris) Biology

NON-NATIVE. Do not allow to nest in nestboxes.

Tufted Titmouse
(Baeolophus bicolor)
Tree Swallow
(Tachycineta bicolor) *
13-16 16-24 Biology
Violet-green Swallow(Tachycineta thalassina) * Biology
White-breasted Nuthatch
(Sitta carolinensis) x

References and More Information:

“Never say never” is my best advice to bluebirders everywhere. Just when you think you can make sweeping statements, an exception seems to “pop up.” I use what works best for me on my trails. Others will eventually find out what works best for them on theirs!
– Ann Wick, WI, Bluebird_L, 2006


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