When you think of birds' nests, you may picture them tucked into nooks on the branches of trees, but not all birds nest in trees. You can find birds' nests in many different places, from the surfaces of marshes to under the ground.
What do you think birds use to build nests? A bird's choice of building materials depends on where it lives and the types of supplies it can find in the area. Grass, moss, string, lichen, soil, twigs, feathers, rocks and bits of shells are all examples of nest-building items. Some birds make hundreds or thousands of trips to and from the nest to gather building supplies!
A bird's beak is an important tool, both for carrying nesting items and for nest construction. Birds may weave nesting materials or use mud, their saliva, or other sticky items like spider webs to hold their nests together.
Some nests are shaped like cups and bowls and rest in trees, while others hang like sacks from branches. Some nests are flat, while others are round like a ball. Some nests look like piles of leaves and sticks, and others look like dents in the ground.
Nests come in a variety of shapes and sizes, proving that birds are some of nature's true builders!
Further informationMost birds do not live in their nests but build them to hold their babies. Nests give baby birds a secure shelter and a safe place to hide from predators until they are old enough to leave. Most birds begin building their nests in the early spring, but not all birds build nests!
To get a sense of the work it takes to build a nest, try gathering supplies from around your home to build your own version of a bird's nest. Do you have extra pieces of paper,cloth or string? Pebbles, shells and plant pieces both real and faux would also make interesting nest-building materials. Now try to join them together using simple weaving or the help of a sticky substance like clay or play dough.
For more fun, read the whyzz story Blue Jay Builders!
Sources & links
Point Reyes Bird Observatory Education Program. "Activity 4: Building Bird Nests. "PRBO.org. 2010. PRBO Conservation Science. 14 June 2010. Kerchner, Jason. "Bird Nest Types." Homes for the Birds.com. 3 January 2010. Kaufman, Kenn. "Small Miracles." Audobonmagazine.org. March-April 2008. "Birds: Frequently Asked Questions." Smithsonian National Zoological Park. www.prbo.org/cms/docs/edu/activity4.pdf