What is a birds nest? Bird nest is important for bird because it is the spot where a bird lays and incubates its eggs and also raises the young. Bird nest mostly made of twigs or branches and located up in the tree.
In most species, the female bird is the builder. The female usually does most of the construction, and the male often helps. They can do all the things from collecting the materials, choosing the best site, until building the construction. Besides, building a nest is also a form of “show-off”, where the males try to make the nest as pretty as possible, so the females will choose them to be their mates.
We usually picture the bowl-shaped of birds nest in a tree, while actually, it’s only one from many types of bird nests, such as the hanging nest, chamber nest, burrow nest, and more. Each of them is unique. They have different structure, materials, and complexity, which are strongly influenced by topography and vegetation of surrounding. So now, how do they do it? Here is some information about their nest making the process, the steps and the speed, and also the materials that they use for each type of nest.
Birds And Their Nest Making Process, The Steps, The Speed, And The Materials
1. Cup nest
This type of nest is the most common birds’ nest (that’s why we often see it). Just like its name, the cup nest is a nest shaped like a cup or a bowl. The nests usually can be built in the tree branches; between the joints or just simply stick to it. To keep the nest from falling, birds like to use lots of materials such as mud, spider webs, dung, rotten wood, caterpillar silk, or even their own saliva mixed with food as a sticky glue. For example, the hummingbirds, as their nest is the smallest cup nest of all birds, use their thick, quick-drying saliva to stick their nests into the tree.
Besides the glue materials, the bird usually builds the shape of their nest from twigs, grass, leaves, and moss. For comfort, the put the hard or scratchy materials as the outer side of the nest for protection and camouflages, and put the softer materials like fur, feathers, or moss as the inner side for protecting the eggs like a carpet. The speed of the making process can be different from each species, depending on how fast they collect the materials.
2. Cavity nest
The cavity nest is a chamber nest that usually found in trunks of tree ferns or large cacti. Some type of birds like woodpeckers and trogons can excavate their cavities, while the other type of birds like parrots, owls, or ducks use natural cavities or the abandoned one. Those who can excavate on their own are called primary cavity nesters, and those who aren’t and need to be excavated by other species are called secondary cavity nesters.
Woodpeckers, for example, use their bills to excavate their cavity nest. This process can take about two weeks on averages and use the nest for a year.
Trogons bird, on the other hand, excavate their nest by chewing cavities into a soft dead wood for several months. Not to mention that a pair of trogons can start more than one excavations before finding the right tree or woods! So yes, it’s a long, long of a process.
But now as long as the red-cockaded woodpecker, though! The red-cockaded woodpecker which is now endangered, can take far longer, about two years, just to excavate the nest, and use it for more than a decade.
3. Platform nest
Most raptors like eagles and haws make their nest in a form of platform nest. The nests are usually high up on a tall tree or even sides of cliffs.
Eagles’ nest, or aerie, is a large nest, about 5 until 9 feet in diameters and can be up to 2 tons in weights. They made the outside nest with large sticks and the inside with dry moss, feathers, or stubbles. Some of their species even like to decorate the nest with animal bone and wire.
The process of adding the branch by branch and building the structure can occur for 1 and up to 3 months. They also often return to the same nest for every year and continue to build it.
4. Burrow or earth-hole nests
Burrows or earth-hole nests are nests that are inside the earth. That has tunnel or burrows on the ground or in the sides of cliffs. The birds mostly dig a horizontal into a nearly vertical tunnel with a chamber at the end as a site for laying eggs. Some of the birds, like the owl, use the abandoned holes from other animals like rabbit holes, some others use their beaks and feet to excavate the burrow nest on their own.
5. The ground and mound nest
Do you know that there is also the type of birds, who don’t even bother to make a constructed nest, and just lay their eggs directly on the ground? Yes, ducks, gees, penguin, and quail is one of the birds who like the ground for nesting. The birds likely to carve out a little hole, line the nest with softer materials like grass and push rocks around it to prevent their eggs from floodwaters for extra, and… that’s it!
In most mound-building species, males tend to do most of the construction, using his strong legs to scrape together material of the nest that he found from their surrounding, and gradually building a conical or bell-shaped pile.
The birds usually need five to seven hours a day for more than a month to make the mound nest. They come back to the same spot for every breeding season with new materials to maintain the optimal level of heat which is important for the female to lay the eggs.