Action: Use differently-coloured artificial nests
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
A replicated study from the USA found that two species showed different colour preferences for nest boxes, but that in each case, the preferred colour had lower nesting success than the less preferred colour.
There is a possibility that birds will preferentially select nests of different colours, or that different coloured nests will have different success rates, possibly due to variable rates of predation.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated study in 1945-6 in garden habitats in Ohio, USA (Calhoun 1948), found that American robins Turdus migratorius made more nesting attempts in 62 green nests (16) than 59 black nests (eight), but there were an equal number of successes (four successful attempts in each: 25% success in green nests vs. 50% success in black). Mourning doves Zenaida macroura (formerly Zenaidura macroura) made 18 nesting attempts in 59 black nests compared to nine in 62 green nests, but there were four successful attempts in each colour (i.e. 22% success for black nests and 44% for green). The use of the nests (cones of black or green roofing paper 17.8 cm at the widest and 5.1 cm deep) by both species is discussed further in ‘Provide artificial nest sites’.