[Tweeters] How sensitive are nesting Pacific Slope Flycatchers?

Hal Michael ucd880 at comcast.net
Wed Jun 17 12:18:02 PDT 2015

In my experience it is very species and even individual bird specific. We had Barn Swallows over the front door and even moved the nest to a hanging basket when it came off the house with no problem. Chickadees, on the other had, don't seem to like having the nest box checked even once. Chestnut-backed's seem more skittish than Black-capped. I have had chickens that stopped setting when I made eye contact while other hens would let you actually lift them off the eggs. As a kindergartner I watched a hummingbird nest from eggs to fledging, even holding the fledglings in my hand. Anyone with a lot of field experience with birds will have stories of some that tolerated almost anything and others that didn't.

The bird chose to nest in that high traffic area so I suspect that an occasional check when the parents are not around would be OK. I would emphasize occasional. And, while the parent might not mind, the local jays, crows, and cats might be very appreciative of your drawing attention to the nest.

As with many things in nature there is no hard and fast rule. Close observation of how the animal responds to you will be the best advice.

Hal Michael
Science Outreach Director, Sustainable Fisheries Foundation
Olympia WA
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at comcast.net

----- Original Message -----

Hello all,

I’m wondering how sensitive Pacific Slope Flycatchers are to disturbance at a nest? We have one sitting on a nest it built on a hanging structure on our front porch. After incubating for the last two weeks we checked the nest with a mirror yesterday and it has four eggs, and it looks like they are hatching today based on the behavior of the mother. We have a view of the nest from inside the house but can’t see into it – I’m wondering if we check the nest occasionally when the female is away whether there’d be any risk of abandonment?

Thanks very much,

Robin Baird


Rwbaird at cascadiaresearch.org

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