Spring is here and birds all over West Virginia have started nesting in nooks, crannies and trees where they’ll raise their chicks in the coming months.

As you go through your spring cleaning rituals, help our feathered friends by tidying up nest boxes on your property. And if you don’t have a nest box, now is the perfect time to set one up. You can make your own nest box or buy one at a garden supply store.

Here’s a few tips you can follow to make sure your winged guests will feel right at home.

A female Scarlet Tanger.

A clean home is a happy home

Birds like a tidy home. If you want to provide a clean and healthy nest box, one of the first things you can do is sanitize everything to prevent the spread of parasites and disease from bird to bird.

Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Remove old nests from your nest boxes.
  2. Wipe everything with a mild, 10 percent bleach solution.
  3. Make any needed repairs.

Before you toss the old nest, give your kids a field guide and see if they can identify what bird made it.

Once the nest box is clean and ready to go, you shouldn’t have to wait long to see a bird add nesting material and welcome a new brood of chicks.

A brood of Robin hatchlings.

Protect this house

Whether you fix your nest box to a pole, side of a building or on a tree, make sure it’s sheltered from heavy wind, rain and harsh sunlight and placed somewhere that’s out of reach of potential predators, such as cats. Several yards should be high enough. For added security, place the nest box above thorny bushes or brush.

Once these measures are in place, all you need to do is keep an eye on your nest box and take notes on all the bird activity.

A Song Sparrow.

Feed the birds

Having trouble attracting birds to your nest box? Set up a bird feeder, but be careful not to place it too close to your nest box. Feeders tend to attract predators, and you don’t want other birds to disturb your nest boxes.

One other way you can attract birds is to provide nesting materials, such as twigs, leaves, straw, grass and strips of fabric.

As birds migrate to their breeding grounds here in West Virginia, they’ll be searching for a nesting site, so now’s the time to setup your nesting box. Giving birds a place to roost is a rewarding and educational experience, and kids love it.

Click here to learn more about watching birds in West Virginia.