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Species Specific Nests

Snow falling on abandoned bird nests forms distinctive white caps that are easy to detect. Because the builders of these nurseries are long gone, most with no intention of re-using their nest, we are afforded a unique opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of them.

There are many clues that help to identify the builder of a nest — habitat, size, and material used being the most obvious. A given species of bird builds a nest that greatly resembles the nest of every other member of that species, and builds it in a similar habitat. Thus, every American Goldfinch nest bears a strong resemblance to every other American Goldfinch nest, every Gray Catbird nest looks like every other Gray Catbird nest, etc. The two American Goldfinch nests pictured were both located in overgrown fields, they are both roughly three inches wide and a little over that in depth, and both are made of fine fibers and lined with thistle and cattail down.

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4 responses

  1. Alice

    When I used to walk a lot, I loved seeing nests with snow on the them. How birds instinctively know how to build their masterpieces is amazing.

    December 27, 2022 at 8:52 am

  2. Is there a guide to birds’ nests by species? I’d love to be able to identify more than the goldfinch and robins’ nests I find.

    December 27, 2022 at 11:12 am

    • Probably the best resource book is Peterson’s A FIELD GUIDE TO BIRDS’ NESTS by Hal Harrison, Kellyann. It has photographs and detailed information including nest dimensions, material, habitat, etc.

      December 29, 2022 at 9:40 pm

      • Thank you!

        December 30, 2022 at 10:10 am

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