The 2014 nesting season seems to be in full swing al little earlier than usual. Already, baby birds have been spotted all over San Diego and several are in the process of building nests. Generally, birds that have long incubation and growth periods tend to nest early so that they will reach a certain stage or growth when food supplies are plentiful. Birds that tend to raise multiple broods also tend to breed earlier. However, even faster nesting birds have already been seen feeding young. It’s possible that the warmer days and fewer clouds may have kick-started the breeding season.
Birds seen with young include herons, osprey, gnatcatchers, ducks, crows and hummingbirds. Doves, pigeons, orioles, killdeer and sparrows have been, at least, seen nesting. House sparrows and feral pigeons are already raising young. Several wintering birds, such as ring-billed gulls, golden-crowned sparrows, and lesser scaup haven’t begun to migrate, though their numbers are lower. The downside to nesting earlier in San Diego is risk of predation from over-wintering birds that would not be in the area during the normal breeding season.
Another risk to nesting earlier is that spring weather can be unpredictable. While San Diego has been warm and sunny for most of the winter, the weather has recently turn cooler and wet. This may result in chicks suffering hypothermia or illness. Sometimes prey and other food sources may change if the weather suddenly changes. Breeding season usually peaks in June when the days are the longest, though it’s not unusual to see birds nesting and breeding into September. Non-native species, such as manikins, often nest in the winter.
If you encounter nesting birds, do not disturb them or hang around their nests for long periods. Some birds will not brood or feed their young if they see you hanging around. This puts the young at risk. By law, nests that contain eggs or young cannot be removed for most species. Contact a licensed wildlife handler if nests and young are causing a problem.