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.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Common Backyard Bird Nest Identification

The art applied to building a nest is very individual for each bird species.

Bluebird, Eastern – a neat, woven cup-shaped nest made mainly from fine grass or pine needles inside an old woodpecker nest or bird house.

Cardinal, Northern – Builds cup-shaped nest low in dense shrub from twigs, weeds, grass, and leaves.

Chickadee, Black-capped – Another cavity nester that starts building her nest with a moss base and tops it with animal fur or cottony plant fibers.

Cowbird, Brown-headed - Cowbirds do not build their own nest – Instead they lay one egg in several nests and let other birds foster their young.

Dove, Mourning – On the fork of a shrub or tree or sometimes on the ground or on an outside workbench or gutter. Doves are known for their inappropriate nesting sites. Nest is usually a fragile, shallow platform of twigs made by the male.

Goldfinch, American – Nests in August. At a fork of a deciduous tree the female builds a nest from grass and spider silk and lines it with plant down and hair.

House Finch – Messy cup-shaped nest made of twigs, grasses, plant fibers, leaves, rootlets, hairs, string and wool, lichens. Sometimes nest in wreaths on doors of houses or hanging plants.

House Sparrow – Tall messy nest made from a collection of loose litter, grasses, feathers and more stuffed into a bird house.

Hummingbird, Ruby-throated – Female alone constructs cup-shaped nests with a diameter about the same size as a quarter. They start to build with bud scales and spider webs and then camouflage the outside with lichen. To cushion the inside of the nest they use cotton or some other plant fluff like dandelions.

Jay, Blue – Male and female build bulky stick nest in a crotch of a tree or tall shrub.

Oriole, Baltimore – Nests high in deciduous trees. Female weaves a hanging pouch at the end of a branch from grasses, plant stems and grape vines and then lines it with fine grasses and animal fur.

Robin, American – Builds sturdy cup nest in coniferous or deciduous tree or shrub. Made from grass, moss and loose bark and cemented with mud.

Swallow, Tree – Inside a bird house they build a cup-shaped nest of grass or pine needles, usually lined with lots of fluffy feathers to cover the eggs.

Woodpeckers – Most of Michigan’s woodpeckers use their chisel-like bills to excavate their cavity nests in trees, and line it with woodchips. They will also use a bird house that is packed with wood chips.

Wren, House – Male fills a many bird houses full of twigs and lets the female choose. Females then take over building the nest with cottony spider cocoons, fine fibers and downy feathers.
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