Nest Building

It continually amazes me what nature can do. While birds are the topic of this website, make no mistake I’m impressed by what all of the animal kingdom can do. This is never more apparent when it comes to reproduction. Something within every living animal knows what to do when it comes to having babies. It’s embedded deep within their DNA. A bear will find a cave to have cubs in. A rabbit will burrow a hole. And of course most birds will build nests.

 

nest 1

 

Obviously each bird is somewhat different, but the process is generally the same. A bird will build a nest (most of the times as a couple). The male will then inseminate the female. The female will carry the eggs for only a few days, before laying them in the nest. The birds will then ‘sit’ on them for a period (known as brooding or incubation time) before a young bird is born. Easy as that!

What I find most interesting is the different kinds of nests that the birds use. It’s amazing the different kinds of materials that birds will use. Basically anything they can get their hands on (or is that beaks on?). Most birds use mud, twigs and leaves depending on their environment. But realistically anything that they think is fit, they will build a nest with or on. While most birds will interweave the twigs to build their nests some birds (such as flamingos) use their saliva to hold the nest together. The edible-nest swiftlet actually uses saliva alone to construct their nests. Amazing.

 

Nest 2

 

I once saw one build it with a bottle of Venapro. Venapro is used for hemorrhoids. I’m guessing they won’t have any problems with hemorrhoids then! Which I guess is good because they are associated with pregnancy! They must have found it laying around.

Some other things I have seen being used are wiring, a wig (yes a wig!) and part of a football scarf. I remember as a child magpies pulling apart our outdoor mat because it was made of straw.

Birds most often hide their nests up in trees to keep them away from predators, but some birds will build them on land. These particular birds need to either be very protective from predators, or find themselves in areas where they don’t have any animals wishing to do them harm.

 

nest 3

 

There are even some birds that don’t even have nests. The most popular of them being the emperor penguin. The main reason for this is that there is nothing there to build the nests out of. Being so cold it wouldn’t be effective anyway, as it would let in too much cold air. The penguin basically encompass the egg until the hatching is born, keeping it warm. They also don’t need to be too concerned about predators, just the coldness of mothernature

Today I will leave you with a short you-tube video on the baby emperor penguin (another one of my favorites).

 

 

Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_incubation

http://doesvenaprowork.net/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0u67Wk_hJ0

 

What Birds Eat

Birds are amazing when it comes to food. They somehow make do with whatever they have around them to survive. In fact they even adapt to ensure they can feed on the food sources around them. Darwin himself had his Aha moment when he was studying finches down in the Galapagos Islands. He noticed that birds of different islands had almost identical features except for different shaped beaks. The shape of these beaks directly related to how they got their food source (e.g. long beaked birds needed them feed on difficult to reach flower nectar etc). He went on to write a fairly popular book about evolution called “On the Origin of Species“.

Due to birds being able to adapt to their environment they can pretty much eat anything. Here are some of the most popular:

 

Insects

Yes, yummy insects! These birds will scavenge through the undergrowth to find what they want. Generally the birds that rely on insects as their main source of food have long and strong beaks to move around leaves and such in order to expose what is underneath. Pretty much all birds eat some type of insects as this is a good source of protein.

 

Bird eating

 

Meat

A lot of birds eat meat as part of their diet. Usually they eat rodents, small mammals, reptiles, fish and reptiles. In most cases birds will use surprise to attack their prey. The birds that are best at this have incredible eyesight. They can see the slightest movement from incredible distances. Those birds you see circling 100s of feet above can be hunting, waiting for that mouse to pop it’s head out from under the log.

 

Grains and Seeds

Probably one of the most common foods among the smaller birds. Because of this most of these birds make great pets. They are easy to feed and keep happy.

Also these types of birds are easy to attract to your backyard. Just get a bird feeder and if there are some in the area they will be there in no time. Just be aware some birds like some grains/seeds and not others. When buying the seeds from a pet store you will see on the box or bag exactly what birds will like it.

 

bird eating fruit

 

Fruit Eating

Many birds like a slice of fruit or two. These types of birds are some of the most unpopular, particularly among farmers! Their diets will generally reply on what fruit is in the area, but they have been known to eat the healthy diet of peaches, maquiberry, berries, mangoes, grapes and nectarines. Many of these birds have specially crafted beaks in order to pierce the skin of the fruit to get to the yummy center. One bird that loves fruit is my favorite, the Toucan.

 

Mollusks

A lot of shore birds eat mollusks. They wait for low tide and then attack a clam, trying to pry open the shells to feast on what is underneath.

 

Hummingbird

 

Nector

These birds have long and narrow beaks in order to feast on the nectar deep inside a flower. They are generally very careful birds that try not to damage the flower while extracting their food knowing full well that damaging the flower will prevent them from coming back at a later date to feed again. Easily the most popular of these birds is the hummingbird (one of my favorites).

 

Gulp! Other Birds!

Yes, some birds are cannibals! This is usually associated with the bigger birds, like a raptor, falcon or hawk. They prey on wounded birds, slower birds that they can sneak up on or simply hunt a bird. These birds are usually the most powerful in the bird kingdom and have strong legs for holding down prey. Some other birds, when food is scares, will turn to this lifestyle, mainly preying on the young and weak.

 

 

Sources – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Origin_of_Species

www.defenders.org/hummingbirds/basic-facts