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Bird Nests in Every Nook? Leave Them Alone

(Chelsea Update would like to thank the Michigan DNR for the information in this story.)

Bird nests can be found in all kinds of places, so don’t be surprised if you find one in a hanging flowerpot, wreath or elsewhere in your backyard.

In addition to songbirds, mallards seem to set up spring nests just about everywhere. Female mallards, called hens, often build them in landscaping, gardens or other locations that people may find inappropriate – or at least inconvenient. If you spot one, be a good neighbor and leave the nest alone and keep pets away from it, too. The hen will lead her young to water soon after they hatch.

“Even if a duck’s nest seems quite a way from water, the hen knows how to get her ducklings to the water,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator with the DNR.

Schauer also noted that a mallard will lay her eggs over several days.

“You might see eggs show up in a nest but no mother duck sitting on them. The hen will start to incubate the eggs once they all have been laid. They’ll take about a month to hatch,” said Schauer.

Canada geese sometimes build nests near houses or in parks. Adult geese are very protective and may hiss and run or fly toward perceived intruders.

“Try to avoid nesting areas, but if that is not possible, carry an umbrella and gently scare the bird away by opening and closing it,” said Schauer.

Bird nests and the eggs they may contain are protected under federal law. It is illegal to touch, move or possess any part of the nest or eggs without the proper permit.

Get additional tips and information on handling conflicts with wildlife and what to do if you find a baby animal at

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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