Nest watch – 1

Geetha Iyer

abandoned-nest Nests bring to mind the birds. They also raise visions of a home for them. Both these are incomplete and wrong presumptions. Nests are not built only by birds but by diverse fauna of the animal kingdom. Secondly they are temporary shelters built by birds and most other animals for the purpose of reproduction. A safe and secure place to lay eggs or give birth and then to rear the offspring till they are ready to lead an independent existence. Several textbooks still describe nests as bird’s homes which is not correct. Although the birds spend a lot of time and energy building them, even the most elaborately and creatively built nests are abandoned once the chicks have grown and departed.

Bird nests are interesting, more so when one can actually see them build it. One of the reasons for the decreasing numbers of sparrows is the non-availability of nesting sites among human dwellings. A small awning or a couple of sloping roofs with planks, a thick bush, a clump of long grasses are more than enough to invite birds to plan their family. Like the diversity exhibited in their size, colour, feathers and form, nests of birds too come in different kinds, forms, and built in different places The intricate weaver bird’s nest, the “leaf-stitched” tailor bird’s nest, the carved out barbet’s nest or the edible swiftlet’s nest made using its saliva, the creativity exhibited by birds in making temporary shelters is awesome! That they can abandon it when the job of raising a new generation is done surely has something for humans to reflect upon. The detachment exhibited by animals is worthy of discussion on ‘values’!

Nest types
Nests are quite diverse and are classified based on the location and/or form. They may be:

Ground nests which could be scrape, hollow depressions or mound nests made on the soil/vegetation; occasionally the bird might add a bit of leaf litter or a few stones here and there. Gulls, terns and other shore birds build this type. Ostriches too build this kind. It requires constant supervision by the adults as such nests are easily prone to predation.

The author is a consultant for science and environment education. She can be reached at

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