With all of this talk about birds I can’t forget to talk about where they live, lay eggs, incubate eggs and raise offspring. A bird’s nest is a common term and pretty much anyone who hears it knows exactly what it is but what’s not so common is the fact that a bird’s nest can vary greatly from species to species.
What do you think about when you hear “bird’s nest”? Do you envision a small structure in a tree made of twigs and leaves? Well, you would be partially correct but bird’s nest can also be made on the ground or inside a drilled hole in a tree. Some birds don’t even make nests so the idea of a bird’s nest, as we know it, can’t just rest in trees or on the roof of a house.
For example, seabirds like the Auk, Uria, and the Razorbill don’t make nests. They just lay their eggs on narrow ledges and within rock crevices along cliffs. This is the same area where they breed at as well. Mother nature thought of everything because the shape of these bird’s eggs are slightly different. They lay eggs that are drastically pointed at one end. This shape causes the eggs to roll in a circle and this is important because without this point, the eggs would easily roll off the side of a cliff or ledge. Because the eggs are so exposed and unprotected, the parent birds almost never leave their eggs unattended.
Another non traditional nest and probably the simplest one is the basic Scrape nest. This type of nest is a slight indention in the soil or vegetation and only deep enough so that the eggs aren’t rolling around. The parent bird usually will add a bit of debris, feathers, or shells to help keep the eggs from sinking in case there is rain. Sandgrouse, Ostriches, Bustards, Tinamous, Partridges, Many Ducks, Quail, most Shorebirds, Pheasants, most Terns, and some Falcons build this type of nest. This type of nesting leaves the eggs highly susceptible to predators so the parents are experts at camouflaging nests and have mastered diversion tactics to draw attention away from their nests.
Birds like the busy Woodpecker make their home in the cavity of trees. Actually, Woodpeckers will make a cavity in a tree and that will become its nest. Woodpeckers and just a handful of other birds are adept at making cavity nests. The whole process takes about two weeks to complete and the nests will be used for about a year. There are birds, such as Bluebirds, Tits, Parrots, and a few other birds that don’t make their own Cavity Nest. These birds will use old ones abandoned by other Cavity Nest builders. Usually, cavity nests are built on the downward facing side of a branch to make it difficult for predators to access the nest. Also, when the nest is built on the downward facing side, it reduces the chances of rain flooding the cavity.
A platform nest is a large nest usually built by birds of prey, or raptors. Depending on the bird, the platform nest can be on the ground or elevated but wherever they are, the nests are many times bigger than the bird. This occurs because the bird will just add to the nest over the course of many years instead of building a new one. These types of platform nests can easily damage trees if the nest is kept active by the birds.
Leaftossers, Puffins, Miners, Shearwaters, Crab Plovers, Motmots, Kingfishers, and Todies are among the birds that use Burrow Nests. Typically, the incubating parent, the young and the eggs are all sheltered by these burrow nests. Most birds who use these types of nests, excavate their own nest but there are a few that will just use leftover ones left by another bird or animal.