Birds as Builders: Nest Variations

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Birds can be quite amazing builders. Much like humans, some of them are more skilled than others in nest construction. Nests can appear as messy piles of material or intricate cup nests that were carefully weaved, depending on the bird.

We are going to picture some of the common nest types and which birds use them!

American Goldfinch Nest
Cup nests are the most advanced kind of nest, their floors are solid and compact and the walls have a definite structure.
There are several types of cup nests:

  1. Ground Cup Nests, which may or may not be domed, common to passerine species 
  2. Adherent Cups, which are attached to vertical surfaces with saliva or mud 
  3. Cavity Cups, which are found in natural tree cavities, rock crevices or bird boxes 
  4. Arboreal Cup Nests, there are several different types depending on how they are supported by branches 
  • Statant: free extended rims that are supported from below by branches. Used by hummingbirds
  • Pensile: rims and sides are attached to branches, but bottoms are not supported 
  • Pendulas: attached to the branches at the rim, but the long, flexible woven neck of the nest allows the egg receptacle to swing freely, built by Orioles
Bullock's Oriole Nest
Platform nests are another type of nest, that is elevated above ground and consist of leaves, twigs and other local materials. You may have noticed Osprey platforms, which are provided in many areas for ospreys to use to create this type of nest. 
Osprey building a platform nest 
Birds may also nest on the ground or in cavities. Ground nests tend to be simple depressions in the ground lined with local materials such as stones, shells, leaves and feathers. Ground nesters tend to be water and shorebirds such as geese, ducks and killdeer. 

Red-Breasted Sapsucker at the opening of its cavity nest
Woodpeckers nest in cavities, as pictured above. Many other species also nest in cavities such as Wrens, who notably will nest just about anywhere.

The construction of different birds nests is as interesting as it is variant! A special mention to orioles who take up to 12 days to weave their nest. They can include upwards of 10,000 stitches and thousands of knots done personally by moms beak! 

All birds are home-builders and self construct the nests that will house their eggs, which is an amazing skill worth celebration. 



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