An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Bird Nests Revealed

Deciduous leaves have fallen, revealing bird nests that were right under our noses all summer without our even knowing it.  In addition to building in specific habitats and constructing different sized nests, each species of bird uses a combination of building material that is slightly different from every other species. Because of this, the material a bird uses to construct its nest can be diagnostic as far as determining what species built the nest.  Is the nest lined with rootlets? Are grape vines incorporated into the nest? Is moss covering the outside of the nest?  Is there a shed snake skin woven into the nest? The answer to these questions and others can help narrow down the list of possible builders.

This is the time of year to look for nests and try to determine, with the help of a good field guide such as Peterson’s Field Guide to Bird Nests, the identity of the birds that built them.  (Be aware that possession of a bird nest, egg or feather of most migratory birds, even for scientific research or education, is illegal if you do not have a Federal Migratory Bird Scientific Collecting Permit.)

Sometimes you’ll find material in nests that surprise you — some contain man-made, as well as natural, materials. Among the most unusual examples of this are a nest built solely out of barbed wire by a Chihuahuan raven in Texas and the pictured clothes hanger nest built by a crow near Tokyo and photographed by Goetz Kluge.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button

6 responses

  1. mmoore53

    Look at this!!

    On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 8:56 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Deciduous leaves have fallen, revealing bird nests > that were right under our noses all summer without our even knowing it. In > addition to building in specific habitats and constructing different sized > nests, each species of bird uses a combination of bui” >

    November 20, 2019 at 9:50 am

  2. mmoore53

    Dear Mary,

    Please ignore my previous email which was intended for my ornithologist husband!

    I am a long-time fan of yours and Naturally Curious!

    Cheers, Marianne

    Dr. Marianne Moore Frost Professor Emerita in Environmental Science & Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences Dept of Biological Sciences Wellesley College Wellesley, MA 02481-0832 USA

    On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 8:56 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Deciduous leaves have fallen, revealing bird nests > that were right under our noses all summer without our even knowing it. In > addition to building in specific habitats and constructing different sized > nests, each species of bird uses a combination of bui” >

    November 20, 2019 at 9:53 am

  3. Alice

    Beak ‘handy’ work is so amazing! I’m trying to picture a Crow flying with a coathanger….maybe the nest was near a dry cleaners. As for a barbed wire nest, that’ll prevent the ‘kids’ from escaping! Many nests around here have long horse-tail hairs woven in.

    November 20, 2019 at 1:49 pm

  4. leaf04

    Clothes hanger nest! (see photo)

    On Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 8:57 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Deciduous leaves have fallen, revealing bird nests > that were right under our noses all summer without our even knowing it. In > addition to building in specific habitats and constructing different sized > nests, each species of bird uses a combination of bui” >

    November 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

  5. Ray Mainer

    The “coat hangers” look more like plastic fibers pulled from a brush.

    November 20, 2019 at 2:41 pm

  6. Jean Harrison

    Astonishing! Crows are amazing.

    November 20, 2019 at 9:07 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s