Jul 18 2011
I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book about birds’ nests called Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer & Build (Princeton University Press, 2011) by Peter Goodfellow.
It’s not your typical bird-nest guide. Instead the book groups nests by architectural type, shows blueprints of their construction, and provides case studies and photographs of species who construct each type.
Did you know that…
- Female hornbills seal themselves into their cavity nests and must rely on their mates to feed them through a narrow slit until the chicks are ready to fledge.
- African Jacanas build nests that float.
- Spider silk and moss work like Velcro. The builder can stick them together, pull them apart and re-glue them elsewhere. Hummingbirds are masters at this.
- Some birds actually stitch their nests. The common tailorbird (nest pictured above) wraps a large leaf with a thread to make it curl, then pokes its bill through the leaf edges and uses spider or cocoon silk to sew it in place. When the curl is secure she builds her nest inside.
- Megapodes build compost heaps and lay their eggs in them. The heat of the decaying vegetable matter incubates the eggs.
If you’d like to learn about avian architecture this book is a great place to start. The photographs and illustrations are gorgeous. I learned something new on every page.
(photo of a Common Tailorbird nest by J.M. Garg at Wikimedia Commons. Click on the photo to see the original.)
p.s. Scott Shalaway recommended this book among his Wildlife Books for Summer Reading.