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Q: I discovered a bird was sitting on a nest in a shrub next to our house. We’re planning on having the house painted next week. What should I do? Can I move the nest?

A: If it is possible to delay the painting for a month, and you can wait for the young to leave the nest, that would be the best solution for the birds. If that is not possible, then ask the painters to minimize their presence around the nest. Although there is a risk the bird will abandon the nest, many yard birds are tolerant of occasional disturbances. If you move the nest, there is a very good chance that the bird will abandon it.

Nest built in a place that moves

Q: I discovered that a bird built its nest in my boat. I’m going to need that boat in a few weeks. I don’t want to hurt the bird or any babies, but how long before I can use the boat?

A: Because each bird species is a little different, I can’t tell you exactly how long you’ll need to wait. However, I can give you a few guidelines. Birds usually lay one egg a day. They don’t begin incubating their eggs until all the eggs have been laid. Clutch sizes vary from 2 to 8 eggs for most common backyard birds. Once the last egg has been laid, incubation takes about two weeks. The eggs will usually hatch about the same time. From that point, it will take another two weeks before the nestlings are ready to leave the nest. To be on the safe side, and to allow for variety in species, you should probably allow six weeks before planning on using the boat. The Birds of North America Online is an excellent resource for finding out information about birds in general and about incubation and fledging times for individual species.