Types of bird nests

People live in different types of houses --- some made from lumber, some from concrete, some very large and some very small.

Birds also build different kinds of nests. Since there are about 18,000 species of birds in the world, so there are many, many different types of nests. Here are some common types:

Scrape nests

Some birds do not put a lot of work into a nest. Scrape nests are created by digging away a simple depression in the ground and adding in a few stones or leaves.

These nests insulate eggs and protect them from rolling over, but they are subject to easy accessibility by predators so you'll find parents work to distract predators from a nest's location.

Birds that create scrape nests include ducks, shorebirds, quail and pheasants.

burrowing owl by a burrow

Burrow nests

Different species will burrow into different materials for a nest. Some might be dug into vertical cliffs, some into tree trunks and some into the ground, like the burrowing owl in Iowa. Burrows are safe and warm for nestlings.

woodpecker in a cavity

Cavity nests

Think of woodpeckers nesting inside of trees and you're thinking of a cavity nest. Cavity nests can also be made in telephone poles, buildings or even cacti in the desert. Sometimes birds hollow out a cavity, and sometimes they are holes that exist naturally.

Birds that use cavity nests include woodpeckers, bluebirds, house sparrows and chickadees.

Platform nests

The osprey in Kenue Park use a platform nest, because they like to have a 360-degree view of what's around them to make sure they can spot predators and distract or attack them.

Platform nests are usually made of twigs layered together and softened with the addition of grasses or dirt. Many platform nests are large and used season after season by the same birds.

Common platform nesters include osprey, bald eagles, egrets and storks.

robins in a nest

Cupped nests

Probably the most common type of nest, cup nests are shaped like, well, cups. They could be made of a variety of materials and be a variety of sizes, from the tiny hummingbird nest made of lichen and spiderweb to mud and grass nests built by robins.

Some cupped nests are found in the forks of trees or bushes whereas some are adherent and are built on walls, like barn swallow nests.

Ground nest

Some birds nest right on the ground. They might build up sides out of grasses to create a cup-shape or even a partial roof. Bobolinks are ground nesters in the prairie.


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