Springtime Nesting: How do Birds Build a Nest?
Around March and April you may see your garden birds carrying items back and forth as they work to build a nest. Usually the process only takes a few days. But the finished structure is always something of a marvel. These homes are strong enough to hold eggs, hatchlings and their parents. But they’re built using just a beak. So just how do birds build such impressive nests?
Who’s Job Is It?
On the whole, its female birds who build a nest although they may sometimes get some help from their mate. In contrast, it’s the male wren who builds a nest. He gathers moss, dry grass and dead leaves to make a number of dome-shaped homes. Then he hands over responsibility to the hen, who will select the nest she likes best and work to line it with feathers.
Mud and Moss
Robins, song thrushes and blackbirds all nest in hedgerows where they can be safe from predators. They all use a similar nest building style too. They weave grasses and small twigs together to create a structure. This is then made more stable (and more camouflaged) with mud and moss.
A collection of twigs isn’t so steady. Some birds use sticky spiders’ webs to hold their nests together. Chaffinches nest in trees so spider webs help to anchor the nest to branches. Long tailed tits create an elaborate enclosed nest where moss is held together with cobwebs.
Other birds take life a little easier and make use of pre-existing structures. Tits and owls like to set up home in tree trunks, where a handy hole provides the perfect base. Starlings and house sparrows find spaces in rooves. With a structure like this to work with, it doesn’t take much to make things cosy. Adding a little grass or moss will do the trick.
Birds work hard to make their nests comfortable. And they’ll make use of almost anything they can lay their beaks on. Wool, clothing fibres, animal fur and human hair are all commonly found in birds’ nests. Blackbird nests are often found to include materials like string and even sweet wrappers.
We include wood shavings in our gift boxes as filling, simply pop this in a fatball feeder and watch the birds come and collect bits as they build their nests!
For many nesting birds, privacy is a priority. They want to be safe from predators. This means it’s not always possible to see nest building in action. But keep your eyes peeled this spring and you may see your garden birds collecting the materials they need to make their home sweet home.
- Nikki Boxwild