About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What bird makes a ground nest in Michigan?

As a backyard bird watcher in Lansing, MI, when someone says they saw a nest I automatically think cup shaped in a tree or cavity nester in a birdhouse. Of course the world is larger than my backyard, and interestingly enough, lots of birds have lots of different kinds of nests. Not all birds even build nests.

Some birds lay their eggs on a sandy surface. Other species will modify a nest site only slightly by scraping the surface of the ground or adding a few sticks or leaves around the eggs. Many birds dig a burrow in the ground to protect eggs from predators or keep them out of a scorching hot environment. A few birds even bury their eggs in decaying plant material and allow the heat of organic decomposition warm their eggs.
In mid-Michigan a lot of waterfowl (ducks, geese, loons, cranes, terns, gulls…) make nests or lay their eggs on the ground. And if you are near open farm fields, meadows, pastures, or prairies you may find meadowlarks, chickens, bobwhites, pheasants, or some species of sparrows raising broods on the ground. In forested areas some species of grouse, flycatchers, thrush, warblers, and more, are ground nesters and our Turkey Vulture will lay her eggs on the ground, on gravel of cliffs, or on logs or tree stumps in remote areas.

I've heard lots of customers' stories and have seen Killdeer and Mallards often coming into neighborhoods far from water to choose a nesting site. So a lot of birds will nest on the ground. I would need some more information to determine what bird made the nest you found.


RedTwigBrownTwig said...

Great post! I'm a long way away on the east coast of Canada but we have lots of killdeer on our rocky beaches and they are very protective of their nests. Lots of scolding and flapping of wings to chase off intruders.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Yes! You have to be very careful in the spring. Sometimes they nest in the most inconvenient spots. Glad you liked the post. Sarah

Marilyn said...

Thank you! There is a bird nesting in the rocks in our parking lot at work. A small number of people come and go, and she mostly stays on the nest, but if someone gets too close she pretends to have a broken wing to lure you away. I hope everything stays safe!

Marilyn said...

Forgot to say, and thanks to you, I have determined its a killdeer.

Robin Scurr said...

Another bird that nests on the ground in Michigan, though very rare to see, is the Kirtland's Warbler. It has a very small range in Roscommon and Crawford counties, nesting under Jack Pines of only a very certain height ...