25 Jun 2010

Going on a Nest Hunt!

I am sure that Jemimah and I are not the only ones to be fascinated by the variety to be found in birds' nests. Each bird has a different home, and the unique aspects to each type of structure are amazing: The Pied Oystercatcher, along with other shore birds, simply lays her clutch of eggs in a little depression in the sand of the seashore; parrots and cockies nest in hollow trees along the river banks; the Mallee Fowl buries her eggs in a huge mounds that can be over 1m high and 4m across; and the bowerbird...well their bowers need to be seen to be believed, while their nests are actually pretty boring.

While the variety of nests in our backyard is not quite so impressive as this, we still have a number of resident birds in our Peaceful Garden, and while finding bird nests during the summer requires patience,determination, skill and a good dollop of good luck, during winter it is a doddle. With the trees bare of leaves, nest hunting is merely a matter of looking up!

Of course a nest in spring complete with a clutch of chicks is the most interesting, but you can learn a lot from the nests you discover in winter. We always look at the position of the nest on its branch, as well as its method of attachment. How does it stay there? We also look at its manner of construction, as well as the materials that the birds have found to construct their home. Are they all natural, or are some man-made? Can we identify the species that made it? (Not often!)

We always do a drawing or two, and note our findings in our nature notebooks. It is terrific fun.


  1. We had willy wagtail nest and a pee-wee nest in our last home.

    We even saw the willy wagtails flying to and fro with materials to make the nest. It was so great to watch the litle birds hatch, and being fed by mamma bird. We even saw the little birds litle by littl go out on the branches and evetually fly on their own.

    As for the pee-wees? They are terrible mothers! We found several fallen from the nest to their death.

    Fascinating stuff!

  2. Yes Jeanne, we love a good nest hunt here too! For over a week now I have had a large one - blackbird's we think - sitting on our dresser. The children love the hunt and the fetching - especially if it involves climbing :)


  3. Love that birdie with the beautiful plummage at the bottom!

  4. Honeyeaters will pull together the leaves of the wild tobacco & nest just a metre above the high water mark. What I want to know is how they know how high that will be because it changes & I've never known them get it wrong.

    And I like weaver bird nests. So clever, so small & so very pretty. One of those on the waterfront too but so well hidden we never spotted it in use.

    We have found honeyeater nests with eggs & have been able to check for chicks. Chicks are pretty ugly but fascinating & I don't think any of the kids have ever forgotten. Oh, & doves nest on the ground too ~ well, some doves. Nearly stepped on a nest once bushwacking before it became urbanised round ehre.

  5. Nest Hunting is so much fun. It's amazing how many nests you can find when search for them.

  6. Can I come live with you? You always do the best stuff. :)

    I suppose I should be ashamed to admit that we have American bald eagle nests on a back road near our home that I have pointed at as we have driven by them but never actually stopped to let the children look at. Hmmmm, sounds like our field trip this week is now in order. lol

  7. Great photos! I miss nature study! Guess I'll go out alone!


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