A few days ago, Greg Hanisek wrote about his suggestions for finding hawk nests to confirm breeding for the atlas project. Greg was careful to point out the ethical issues involved with nest finding and the importance of not approaching too closely. With that issue in mind, it’s important to note that there are several ways to confirm breeding without getting close to, or even finding, a nest.
Denyse Miller, for example, recently observed a red-shouldered hawk carrying a stick. This behavior warrants breeding code CN (carrying nest material) and is a clear sign of nesting nearby. This code can be used for all species except wrens, which will build nests that are not used for breeding. The other situation where caution is warranted is if you are close to the boundary between two blocks, where further observations might be needed to be sure which block the bird is nesting in.
Denyse’s observation was reported via ebird. Pictures of the bird she observed, stick in talons, are reproduced below (with her permission).