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Birds using brush piles

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Old Tuesday 7th August 2018, 12:39   #1
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Birds using brush piles

I live in north central Pennsylvania near the NY border. I've created huge brush piles next to the creek and fields. I see the birds hanging out and using the brush for perching and as a staging area to troll the creek. I need to burn these piles before the fields turn brown in September. My question is, would any of the species listed below have nests in the piles and if so, would the babies be at the age of flight? Most of the birds below are frequent fliers to the piles.
Grackles, Red Wing Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Starlings, Goldfinches, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow and Killdeer.
Thanks so much for reading,
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Old Tuesday 7th August 2018, 19:00   #2
Andy Bright
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Hi Jerome, welcome to BF. OK so you're on the other side of the Atlantic from me but our seasons and breeding times will be similar. I'd say with some confidence that all species will have finished with their nests by September, even those that had multiple broods.

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Old Monday 13th August 2018, 20:12   #3
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Well, some of those species won't nest in brush piles (killdeer lay eggs on open ground, and many of the others prefer a fully-enclosed dead tree or streetlight) but others might. (Red-winged blackbirds, for example, like to nest in reeds or thick brush over water, but will also nest in brush *near* water.) And there are several species not on your list that would probably love to nest in your piles.
Generally birds start nesting as soon as they arrive in the spring, and a brood will fledge in three to six weeks (much longer for larger birds, but we're talking about small songbirds like sparrows). The problem, from your perspective, is that many species will then go ahead and start a second brood, and sometimes a third.
I don't know how much time a fledgling (and his parents) needs to fatten up for migration, but I'd guess that any songbird still in the nest after a hard frost is probably doomed. I doubt that any time before then is completely risk-free.
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Last edited by nartreb : Monday 13th August 2018 at 22:41. Reason: clarification; a few birds do incubate in winter, but not songbirds
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