Into The Air

The Official Blog of Backyard Chirper

Common Backyard Birds Nesting Information

We get a lot of questions about nesting birds, like how many broods they have each breeding season, the size of the clutch, how long the eggs incubate and more. To quash your curiosity, we’ve created this helpful chart of several species whose nest you might see in your backyard or in a nesting box.

Before you jump into the chart, here are some definitions that will help you better understand it.

Breeding Season: The breeding season is the typical period of time each year in which a species will breed and produce offspring. The chart gives a general range, but the actual start and finish of the breeding season varies by location.

Clutch Size: A clutch of eggs is the amount of eggs a bird lays at a time. The size of a clutch means the number of eggs you’ll usually see in the nest during each brood. This, like the others, varies with each brood for most species.

Broods: A brood is a group of chicks hatched at the same time. In the context of this chart, the number is the amount of broods produced by the species in a single breeding season.

Incubation Period: The incubation period is the amount of time a mother or parents will tend to the eggs by regulating their temperature. At the end of the incubation period, the eggs will usually begin to hatch.

Nestling Period: This is the period of time after the egg has hatched but before the chick has grown feathers or developed wing muscles for flight. After the nestling period, the fledglings will begin to leave the nest.

If you have any other birds you think should be on the list, let us know in the comments.

Breeding and Nesting Information For 20 Common Birds

SpeciesBreeding SeasonClutch SizeBroodsIncubation PeriodNestling Period
American CrowMarch–Aug3–9 eggs1-216–18 days20–40 days
American GoldfinchJune–Sept2–7 eggs1-212–14 days11–17 days
American RobinApril–July3–5 eggs1–312–14 days13 days
Baltimore OrioleApril–July3–7 eggs111–14 days11–14 days
Black-capped ChickadeeApril–July1-13 eggs112-13 days12–16 days
Blue JayMarch–July2–7 eggs117-18 days17–21 days
Cedar WaxwingJune–Sept2–6 eggs1-211–13 days14–18 days
Downy WoodpeckerApril–July3–8 eggs112 days18–21 days
Eastern BluebirdMarch–July2–7 eggs1–311–19 days17–21 days
Eastern Screech-OwlFeb–July2–6 eggs127–34 days26–30 days
European StarlingApril–July3–6 eggs1-212 days21–23 days
House FinchFeb–Aug2–6 eggs1–613-14 days12–19 days
House SparrowMarch–July1–8 eggs1–410–14 days10–14 days
House WrenMarch–July3–10 eggs1-29–16 days15–17 days
Mourning DoveFeb–Sept2 eggs1–614 days12–15 days
Northern CardinalMarch–Aug2–5 eggs1-211–13 days7–13 days
Northern MockingbirdApril–July2–6 eggs2-312–13 days12–13 days
Purple MartinMarch–June3–6 eggs1-215–18 days27–36 days
Ruby-throated HummingbirdApril–July1–3 eggs1-212–14 days18–22 days
Tree SwallowApril–July4–7 eggs1-211–20 days15–25 days
Tufted TitmouseMarch–July3–9 eggs112–14 days15-16 days

Some information was taken from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds.


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  1. Adrian A.

    Nuthatches (white/red)! Juncos, Kestrels, Towhees, Anna’s hummer, Rufous hummer, WESTERN bluebird, chestnut-backed chickadee, SAPSUCKER! Red-winged blackbird, Quail. These are many of my “regulars”. How accurate is it to apply, for instance, “Blue Jay” to the jays I have on the west coast (Scrub, Steller’s)? Also, I see tree swallows but I also have violet-green and barn. If the stats apply well, let us know! Thanks.

  2. Barbara Cooper

    Carolina Wren. I always have her nest in my Christmas cactus on the front porch. I never know when to buy the meal worms.

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