Monday, October 3, 2022


Birds build nest on RV. RVers must stay put or face jail or $15,000 fine

By Terri Nighswonger
What’s odder than a bird building a nest in your RV ladder? A bird building a nest in The RV Odd Couple, John and Mercedes Condon’s, RV ladder. Make that bird a protected species and you’ve got fodder for a great story and a life lesson as well.

In May 2019, the Condons were near Yosemite Park for a two-week stay. They were burnt out, sick and needing a break. They got one…in spades.

They were able to watch and document a pair of Steller’s Jays build their nest in the ladder on the back of their RV. The industrious birds used sticks and mud to provide a home for their upcoming brood, so John began to film.

“I got lost in nature,” John says on the couple’s YouTube channel.

The birds completed the nest and then disappeared for several days ensuring the spot was safe before laying eggs.

The couple determined they would stay until the process was complete. It wasn’t long before the birds laid eggs and the real difficulties began. They learned about the Migratory Bird Act, which would cost them a $15,000 fine or six months in jail if they moved.

“Once the eggs are in the nest, they can’t be moved except by a professional,” John said.

To add to the issue, Thousand Trails told the couple they had to leave because the park was booked. The couple said the stress and uncertainty of “move or don’t” was distressing. Finally, they were able to talk with the correct person in Thousand Trails and got the okay to stay. From that point, they were able to monitor the birds every day and gain some needed downtime.

Around Mother’s Day, the birds laid four eggs: three hatched. They were able to see the chicks grow quickly, nurtured by both parents. When it finally came time to leave the nest, 21 days after birth, they watched the mother continue to care for her young until they were fully able to fend for themselves. One baby was lost when it fell into a nearby river while trying to fly.

“Life moves fast but when we lost the bird at the end, we realized that time is precious!” Mercedes said. “And if you want to get Thousand Trail’s attention, just get Fish & Wildlife involved.”



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Paul B.
10 months ago

Loved the article. The Condons’ YouTube channel, ‘RV Odd Couple’ is worth checking out. Informative and entertaining.

10 months ago

Steller jays are about as common as dirt around the area they were. You can hardly keep them out of your camp as they try to steal any food they can get ahold of.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago

Like another poster, Stellar Jays are not the jurisdiction of the migratory bird act. Even if some migratory birds built a nest in a RV, the governing issue here in ” intent” of the law. To think that they couldn’t remove the nest to a close suitable location, and depart is just nonsense.

In case anybody is interested, I own this bridge in Brooklyn, NY and its for sale, cheap!

1 year ago

Birds can be pretty persistent. A pair started a next under my slide a few years ago. A neighbor told me, and I cleaned out the twigs three or four times and they kept coming back with more until I blocked access.

2 years ago

Watched birds build nest in neighbors motor home tailpipe. Told neighbor and he quickly remove it then put a plastic bag over pipe. Poor birds tried for 2 days to get in pipe. Hope person removed bag before leaving.

Nancy Michaels
2 years ago

This must be more common than I expected! We had planned to join a group we spend Memorial Day with in our RVs. As we started getting ready, my husband discovered a nest in the tongue of the 5th wheel. He refused to remove it and we had to cancel plans and wait for the birds to leave their abode! Now he’s screened off the area to prevent mama from returning next season, but I wonder what other hidey holes birds can make a home in!!

2 years ago

I think if it were me, I would have quietly gotten rid of the nest at the first sign. Impacting normal life and activities is not, in my opinion, the intention of the migratory bird act. It is intended to stop folks from actively hunting certain birds. But glad I read this, so I know to act quickly if I ever find myself in such a situation.

J. A. Dickson
2 years ago

Interesting. . .sent this article to a couple of birdwatchers.
A few springs ago, we were getting cleaned out and ready for the first camping trip of the season, when I noticed something strange on the front tire of my RV. . . .a mass of dried grasses, etc. And just then a bird flew in front of me and landed on that mass of natural materials! We waited for more than three weeks for that Robin’s fledglings to hatch and fly away. The photos were wonderful!

2 years ago

Were you this angry as a child? Not enough love growing up? I do feel sad for you and those around you.

2 years ago

Funny that a very common, non-migratory bird is protected by the migratory bird act.

Paul Goldberg
2 years ago

Some years ago we took our motorhome out of storage near Rochester NY for a trip to the Boston area. As I finished setting up I opened the hood and found a nest with 4 robins eggs, well cooked, on top of the radiator. I had this image of mom coming back to sit on the eggs and wondering where she had left them. 

2 years ago

I guess this reminds us to always check around our rig before pulling out. You never know what babies might be waiting there for Momma.

Chuck B
2 years ago

I for one and I am certain many others prefer if you take your rhetoric somewhere else. The only BS I see is almost all of your useless posts in the comment section. The only thing I see dumb and useless here are your comments.

Maria Schulz
2 years ago

We took our fifth wheel out for the first time for July 4th weekend.
when we were setting up on our site, as I ducked under the fifth wheel tongue, I heard chirping. I couldn’t see in so I used my iPhone to take photos. There were hungry baby house wrens with wide open mouths looking for mama!
we ended up taking small bits of turkey and feeding them, and 2 days later they left. Lesson learned…install a screen so birds can’t nest in there!