Under Construction

Under Construction

It’s spring, and that means there’s a lot of building going on. Birds are busy making little miracles called nests. They don’t go to school to learn how, and they don’t have blueprints to follow. God gave them instincts—kind of like feelings—that tell them exactly what to do.

Nest Shapes

Birds use their beaks, their feet, and their bodies to create beautiful “baby cribs” to keep their eggs and hatchlings safe, warm, and dry. Which one of these nests would you want to snuggle into if you were a bird?

  • Cup nests are shaped like bowls. Robins, cardinals, and blue jays make cup nests.
  • Cavity nests are holes in trees, cacti, or even telephone poles. Owls and woodpeckers make cavity nests.
  • Mound nests are piles of nesting material that sit on the ground. Swans make mound nests near lakes or ponds.
  • Pendant nests hang from branches and are shaped like bags. Baltimore orioles build pendant nests.
  • Platform nests are built high up in trees, on cliffs, and sometimes on chimneys. Storks and eagles create platform nests.
  • Scrape nests are scratched into the dirt. Ostriches make big scrape nests.

Nest Supplies

Just like people use lots of different things to build houses, birds use lots of different materials to build their nests.

  • Nature things: Twigs, grass, leaves, mud, and more. Visit tinyurl.com/BannerNest to watch a hummingbird adding spiderwebs to its nest.
  • Animal things: Some birds weave fur and feathers into their nests. One type of bird called a swiftlet makes a nest out of its own spit!
  • People things: Many birds add string, plastic, paper, yarn, and cloth to their nests.

Fun Nest Facts

  • The bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world. Its nest is the size of a thimble.
  • The largest bird nest ever found was built by bald eagles. It was 9 feet 6 inches (2.9 meters) wide and 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Eagles come back to the same nest every year and add new sticks to it.
  • African birds called sociable weavers connect their nests to each other like an apartment building. Up to 400 birds share the same nest structure!

About the Author

Sandy Swartzentruber serves as the resource coordinator for Faith Formation Ministries and is a member of Sherman Street CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.