How do birds make a nest?
Tuesday, 24th January 2012
They’ll have to learn what’s acceptable as nesting material, and the location of its whereabouts. It’s not like they can hop out to Sainsbury’s! Unless, of course, someone kindly puts out a nest box and makes life easier for them. But I’ll go into that later…
From what I’ve observed the process is very much a process for two, and the male and female appear to each play their individual role in the self-build. I once read that it’s generally the female who chooses the nest site. (I have no further comment to make on this point, as my wife regularly reads this blog!)
I won’t explain the self-build process but suffice to say that it looks like very hard work! It would be interesting to measure the amount of work involved and, for me, that measurement would be the metabolic cost – the loss of calories etc as the build progresses. A bird may make thousands of trips, back and forward gathering nesting materials. And this is just the preparation – the beginning of the process.
Once the nest is complete, the show starts and the hunt for nesting materials is replaced by the hunt for food…
On the point of food – you may think you’re helping birds by placing nest boxes near feeders, but that can paradoxically make matters worse.
Bill Oddie explains, “If you also have lots of feeders in a relatively small area, it may be less likely that the birds will use nest boxes. The coming and going may well be an invasion of territorial space that potential nesters simply won’t put up with. Certainly don’t put feeders and boxes alongside each other!”
However, I’m mindful that a good supply of fresh bird food and water, within easy flying distance, might be the difference between life and death; therefore, I move the bird feeder slightly out of view: on a wall, by the shed, around the side of the house, wherever! Just not close together, and certainly “never” alongside each other.
I hope that’s enough for now to get you thinking about nest boxes and National Nest Box Week? When love…quite literally…will be in the air and all around us!
National Nest Box week dates: 14- 21 February 2012. But there’s never, really, a bad time to put up a nest box.
Click here to view our range of nest boxes
Written by Simon H. King