Birds are so busy nest-building at this time of year and can be observed transporting building materials to their construction sites. Nests are so well camouflaged for obvious reasons but spotting them can make a walk out-and-about with children very exciting.
There are 6 main types of nest:
Cup nests: these are usually built by songbirds e.g. song-thrushes, blackbirds, robins, sparrows and seagulls. They are usually positioned in trees, attached to branches. Cup nests are made with twigs, grasses and leaves on the outside and then lined with soft mosses, fur and feathers. The birds use dung, spider’s webs, caterpillar silk and mud to stick the nest together and build new ones every year.
Platform nests: built mostly by raptors (birds of prey),and pigeons high up in the tree tops or on cliff tops, these nests are re-used many times and can be huge. Made from twigs and branches they take a long time to make. Some water birds such as grebes build floating platform nests on the water anchoring them to reeds.
Adherent nests: most commonly made by swallows and swifts these nests are made from clay which sticks to walls. The birds take little balls of mud into their mouths and mix them with their saliva which acts as a very effective glue to make the clay. It dries rock-solid. These nests vary in shape and can be cup-shaped or jug-like with a small entrance hole.
Ground nests: these nests are made by many ground nesting birds such as ducks, geese and quail. They hollow out a shallow bowl and line it with grass and feathers. They are very well hidden.
Burrow nests: dug into the ground and often with a tunnel leading to a chamber, these nests are built by puffins and kingfishers.
Cavity nests: bird such as sparrows and tits use natural cavities in trees or gaps in the eaves of houses or telegraph poles to construct their nests. Sometimes they are lined with soft bedding material and sometimes not.
Children will love spotting these nests and also having a go at constructing them themselves. Maybe omit the saliva! If you want to make it a real challenge give them a pair of tweezers to resemble a beak - their respect for birds will grow…