All about birds' nests: different types and nesting materials
We’re starting to see the first signs of spring. And that means birds will soon be building nests where they can lay their eggs and care for their chicks through the coming months. You can give them helping hand at this important time of year.
Some birds make different types of nests
Nests made from twigs and mud
Some birds, such as blackbirds, robins and thrushes, go to lots of trouble. They build a neat little nest out of small twigs woven with grass, then plaster it with mud to help hold it together and line it with moss and other soft materials. Others, such as swallows and house martins, mostly use wet mud to make their nests.
Messy birds nests
Look up into the bare branches of tall trees and you may already see some rooks’ nests. They’re quite slapdash when it comes to nest building and just drop lots of twigs into the branches until they end up with a very messy nest!
Nests in hidey holes
It’s important that birds keep their eggs and chicks safe from predators, so many hide their nests in trees or bushes. Some, such as starlings and sparrows, prefer holes in roofs, while other birds such as owls and tits look out for natural holes in trees. Sometimes you’ll see birds carrying nesting materials to a particular place.
Remember: birds are easily scared, so stay well away from anywhere you think they might be nesting.
Be a builder’s mate by helping birds build their nests
Collect some luxurious nesting materials
Birds will use all sorts of things to build their nests, so why not help them make a really luxurious home? Collect things like pet fur, hair from brushes and combs, moss, bits of tree bark, strands of wool, feathers, bits of string, and small strips of cloth. Bundle them up together and hang them from a tree where birds can get at them easily.
Some clever birds use spiders’ webs to help stick their nests together so if you find any cobwebs in your house, you could put those outside too.
Make a muddy patch
It’s also a good idea to make sure there’s a muddy patch in your garden that birds can use, so tip some water onto dry earth and give it a good stir with a stick.
Why not make your own?
If you’re feeling creative, you could even try to make your own birds nest and hide it outside in some bushes. If it’s up to standard, it might even get used!
Provide some tasty treats
Building nests and raising chicks is hard work and birds need to keep their energy levels up at this time of year, so don’t stop putting out food now that spring is here. Take a look at our tips for feeding birds and have a go at making our brilliant bird feeder.
Birds need lots of calcium when they’re laying eggs and egg shells are a good source. Make sure you get rid of any germs by boiling them for a minute first, then crush them and spread them outside.
And remember that you can use our garden birds ID to identify all those extra visitors you’ll get in your garden.
If you fancy going all out and building a nest box for your garden, check out the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) website. You’ll definitely need some grown-up help with this one though!