do birds build nests before or after mating

It’s always exciting to watch a bird fly into their secret little spot in the bushes and know there’s a nest with bird eggs hidden inside.

On my own journey to get connected with nature, some of my biggest discoveries and lessons have come from time spent watching nesting birds in action.

Bird nesting behavior is pretty easy to observe so this is a great place for beginners to explore… but there are also some tricky spots where people get stuck.

One of the most common questions is how to determine – when do birds lay eggs?

Most birds lay eggs anywhere from early spring until mid-summer, however the exact timing varies depending on how far north you are, and the particular species of bird you’re watching.

Some birds will even lay multiple sets of eggs, which is why you might continue seeing birds nesting well into summer.

On the surface it would seem like the exact timing of egg laying should be pretty straightforward, but there’s actually so many subtle factors that it’s worthwhile breaking this down into more detail.

The more precise you can get about knowing when exactly birds are laying eggs, the easier it is to track and monitor their complete life-cycle, as well as to understand their alarm language during nest robbing.

The best results come from using a holistic perspective, taking into consideration the complete ecology, location, weather, nest predators, and local behaviors.

So in this article I want to take you on a deep dive into the dynamics surrounding bird nesting activity so you can watch & observe how it all works in your area.

Our goal is to help you become an absolute whiz at knowing when birds are laying eggs in your area. Let’s explore this in more detail!

Finding a place to breed

Most birds use the duration of the day to determine the season throughout the year. When the number of daylight hours surpasses a particular threshold, birds undergo physiological adjustments that prime them for procreation. The majority of birds, particularly those found in temperate climates, also schedule their mating seasons to feed their young during the times when food is most plentiful. However, birds must choose a breeding area well in advance of the arrival of nestlings. Non-migratory species have two options: they can either create a new territory in the spring or keep their current one through the winter. As soon as migratory birds arrive in the spring, they start searching for and defending a territory. Good territories offer safe havens from predators, dependable food sources, and possible nest sites.

Stage 1: Courtship & Pairing

Birds are just starting to get ready for nesting during this initial stage.

You’re probably just emerging from winter, and temperatures, daylight, and the amount of food available are all rising quickly.

In terms of behavior, you’ll see that birds start to separate from their winter flocks and settle into a much smaller core area.

This will eventually be their nesting territory.

After that, the males will begin to sing and drive the other males from their territory.

Songs are written to both entice women and keep competitors away from their territory.

The girls will soon start selecting the partners they wish to work with in pairs.

Seek out singing birds, paired off Additionally, you may witness small romantic gestures such as men feeding women.

All of these indicate that you are in the first stage of the nesting season right now.

Behavioral Tracking With Nest Stages

The most important thing to understand about these six phases is that bird nesting can be behaviorally monitored in phases.

While there are undoubtedly general guidelines regarding when birds should lay their eggs in any given region of the world, the precise dates can vary from year to year based on factors like temperature.

Therefore, the only surefire method to determine the exact time that birds are laying eggs is to closely monitor their behavior and search for these nesting stages.

Just keep in mind that birds lay their eggs between stages three and four.


Do birds mate first or build a nest first?

More on avian mating systems. Most birds build a nest each time before breeding; a very few use the same nest for years. The nest site may be selected by the female (grouse, pheasants, wagtails); by the male (starling, House Sparrow); or by both sexes ( doves, Corvidae, titmice).

How long after mating do birds lay eggs?

Most bird species lay an egg one or two days after fertilization. However, for some bird species, it can take longer than that to lay eggs after copulation. For example, for Bald Eagles, like our own Jackie and Shadow, it may take 5-10 days. Lovebirds can lay eggs anywhere from 5 to 12 days afterward.

Do birds build nests before they are pregnant?

Depends on the bird species. Quite a lot go through courtship displays, mate and then build a nest, but some, mainly the male, build a nest which attracts the female who appears to choose the best nest – perhaps based on location. Others, like Ospreys use the same nest each year and often mate on it.

Do birds use nests when not breeding?

Although nests are primarily used for breeding, they may also be reused in the non-breeding season for roosting and some species build special dormitory nests or roost nests (or winter-nest) that are used only for roosting. Most birds build a new nest each year, though some refurbish their old nests.