Bird Nests

There is only one time of the year when bird nests are needed.

Almost the first thing every bird thinks of, when they return to us in the spring, is the making of nests.

For summer is the only time in their life that a bird needs a home.

Birds do not need bird nests to live in. They care nothing for a roof to cover them, because when the sun is hot, they have the green leaves on the trees to shade them. And when it rains their feather coat is waterproof, letting the drops run off, leaving them warm and dry under it.

They do not need a dining-room, because they eat wherever they find food, and they want no kitchen, because they eat food raw.

They have no use for a bedroom, because they can sleep on any twig; the whole world is their bedroom.

The Only Time Bird Nests Are Needed;

Mother bluebird feeding babies

A bird has really no need of a house, — except when they are a baby, before their eyes are open, or feathers have come, or wings have grown.

While they are blind, naked, and hungry, they must have a warm, snug cradle.

As the birds come in the spring the first thing they do is to find good places and build nice cradles, for they are very fond of their little ones.

They spend the spring and summer in working for their bird babies, keeping them warm, feeding them till they are grown up, and then teaching them to fly and to take care of themselves, so that when summer is gone they will be ready to go with the other birds to their winter home.

Each bird mother has her own way of making the nest, but there is one thing almost all of them try to do, and that is to hide it.

They cannot put their little homes out in plain sight, because so many creatures want to rob them. Squirrels and snakes and rats, and some big birds, and cats, like to eat eggs and young birds.

So most birds try, first of all, to find good hiding-places. Some tiny warblers go to the tops of the tallest trees, and hide the nest among the leaves. Orioles hang the swinging cradle at the end of a branch, where cats and snakes cannot come. Song sparrows tuck the little home in a tuft of weeds, on the ground, and bobolinks hide it in the deep grass.

After a safe place is found to build the bird nests, they have to find things to build it of. They hunt all about and gather small twigs, or grass stems, or fine root hairs, and pull narrow strips of bark off the grapevines and the birch-trees, or they pick up strings and animal hair, and many other things.

Barn Swallow Nest

Robins and swallows use mud to build their bird nests.

As they go on building, the mother bird gets inside and turns around and around to make it fit her form, and be smooth and comfortable for her to sit in.

When a nest is made, it must be lined. Then some birds go to the chicken yard, and pick up feathers, and others find animal hairs. Some of them pull off the soft down that grows on plants, or old leaves from the woods, and make it soft and warm inside.

Some bird homes are only platforms, where it seems as if the eggs must roll off, and others are deep burrows, or holes in the ground, where no one can get in. Some are dainty baskets hung between two twigs, and others are tiny cups of felt with lichens outside.

Each species of bird builds its nests in its own way. There are as many different ways to make nests as there are kinds of birds to make them.

Then after all the trouble birds have taken to build a nest, they seldom use it a second time. If a pair have two broods in a season, they almost always build a new one for each family.


Return from bird nests to A Home for Wild Birds Home


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