Nature’s Architects

This week’s blog was written by Melinda J., a Bucktails alumni. Melinda has been interested in nature throughout her life, which is why she attended Wildlife Leadership Academy. She enjoys watching shows, reading books, and learning. Eventually, she would like to find a career in STEM.

When I walk around my neighborhood in winter, one of my favorite things to do is look up at the trees and see nests that would usually be hidden by leaves. It’s always amazing to spot a new nest settled between some branches above your head and think about the birds that made it. So many little architects fly through our skies and build homes out of twigs, leaves, and grass that are strong enough to support them and their families. These architects exhibit great workmanship, using only their beaks as tools to carry and weave their materials together.

The nests that I see in my neighborhood are cup or cupped nests, which are shaped like cups, as the name suggests. Of the many types of nests, cupped nests tend to be the strongest, warmest, and most complicated. These nests are situated on the tree branches; some are supported by branches beneath the nest while others are suspended by branches on the side of the nest. Usually, cupped nests are made of grasses, twigs, leaves, and other flexible materials, but some birds use mud, saliva, hair, or spiderwebs as well to build their nests in order to make them more sturdy.

A nest in a tree in my front yard.

Birds begin building their nests by bringing materials to the base and laying them on top of each other. A crucial part of this process is turning in the nest to tuck the material into the cup. As birds continue weaving new materials into their nest, a cup shape will form. The outer part of the nest tends to be more compacted to keep the nest durable, and the inside is usually made of softer material. Some birds such as hummingbirds will use saliva to help anchor their nests to trees and spider silk to keep the nest flexible and help it stick to branches.

Another nest by my house.

Birds are truly nature’s architects, creating sturdy homes and using materials that will best benefit them. Although I’ve seen dozens of nests around my neighborhood, I can’t wait until spring when I can see some birds building new nests and witness the architects at work.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.