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What can you learn about bird nests?

Updated on October 19, 2013

Spring is a good time to teach about nests and how they are built.

Each kind of bird has a very distinctive nest. The nests that are found most frequently are the ones in the form of a "basket"; they are often found hidden in trees at the fork of branches.

Often, birds use organic materials such as twigs, moss, grass, leaves, feathers, etc. to make their nest. Sometimes, birds also use wool, animal hair, or man-made materials like fabric, paper, etc.

Some nests are woven and suspended. Others are built under a roof, under a ledge or against beams. These nests are built from fine mud which birds get in puddles and on the banks of a pond or a river. The mud is strengthened by straw. Inside the nest, there are feathers which make it comfortable. These nests are inhabited by swallows. Swallows sometimes form colonies by attaching one nest to the next; that saves them some work!

Other birds built their nest in the hollows of rock walls or in the hollows of trees.

The cuckoo has a rather interesting behaviour because it lives as a parasite on the nest of other birds. The female cuckoo can lay from 8 to 25 eggs per season, and lays them in various nests. When the cuckoo chicks hatch, they throw the eggs of the foster parents out of the nest to be able to take full advantage of the food supply!

In an educational context, nests, their shape, the colour of the eggs, etc. allow the children to develop their sense of observation. You can borrow books in the library or do research on the internet to find illustrations of different kinds of nests.

Sometimes the wind or a storm knocks a nest down. Why not bring it to class and observe the elaborate work of the birds. In spring also, with some luck, it is possible to find fragments of eggshells that the bird parents throw out of the nest.

You can also speak about predators of the various kinds of birds, about migrations, etc.

Also remind the students that if they are lucky enough to have birds that choose to build their nest near their house, they should not touch the baby birds because the parents might not continue to feed them.

Teaching with art

In my experience, teaching can be more effective if it is combined with a hands-on activity like a visual arts project. I have created many art projects with teaching resources that make it very easy to do apply this method, even if you are not an art teacher.


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    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      What a neat idea, Crafty and very educational! Birds love to pick all kind of materials for their nest so why not gather them. But you made that even more easy by placing everything it the boots. I would have love to see the picture of this :-)

      Enjoy the rest of the day!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      My son loves birds. When he grew out of his rain boots when he was about 4, we stuffed them with trimmings from around the house. Yarn, cotton, dryer lint, etc., and hung them on a tree so he could see the birds making nests from the materials. We also brush our dogs outside. Birds love animal fur to build nests with.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Good idea! Thank you Sprickita! I should try that and make a video to complement this hub :-)

    • sprickita profile image

      sprickita 4 years ago from Reno

      A cute little trick; is to put a basket with little bits of yarn or string out when spring starts and watch as the birds take pieces from the basket to incorporate into their nest.