The Ultimate Guide to Birds Nest | Types, Material, Facts

Did you know that birds are amazing builders? They create homes for themselves and their babies.

A bird’s house is called a nest. Birds build nests to lay their eggs and raise their young. Nests provide shelter and protection for bird families during the nesting season.

These nests are like cozy little houses in trees, bushes, or even on the ground.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about the ins and outs of nests, different kinds, how they build, the stuff they use, and clever ways they put them together.

The different types of bird nests

Natural nests

Natural nests

  • Natural cavity: These nests are built in holes that already exist in trees, cliffs, or other structures. The birds may excavate the hole themselves.
  • Cavity with entrance hole: Similar to natural cavities. The birds often make an entrance hole in the side of the cavity. 

Birds like Woodpeckers, owls, nuthatches, chickadees, and bluebirds use these types of nests.

Ground nests

  • Shallow depression: These nests are simply a shallow depression in the ground. The birds may line the depression with leaves, grass, or other soft materials.
  • Ground property: These nests are more complex than a simple shallow depression. They are made of mud, twigs, or other materials.

Quail, grouse, meadowlarks, killdeer, etc. use ground nests.

Constructed nests

Constructed nests

  • Cup-shaped nests: This is the most common type of bird nest. They are made of a variety of materials, such as twigs, grasses, leaves, and mud. The birds form a strong, cup-shaped structure with this material. The robins add feathers or fur as a soft lining to the nest.
  • Hanging/Pendant nests: They are made of woven materials, such as grasses or vines. The orioles build elaborate, basket-like nests.
  • Sphere nests: Sphere nests are round or oval in shape. They are often made of mud or clay. They are usually built on the ground or in trees. Example: Weaverbirds 
  • Burrow nests: They are built underground. The birds may dig their own burrows or use burrows that have been abandoned by other animals. Example: Kingfishers
Nest typeMade ofFound inBird species
Long-lasting large bird nestsSticks and branchesTreesBald eagle, woodpecker
Flexible, small bird nestsSpider silk and plant downTrees, shrubsHummingbird, wren
Oriole nestsHanging fibersTrees, shrubsOriole
No-fuss scrape nestsLeaves or grassGroundChicken, partridge
Precarious cliffside nestsSeaweed and mudCliffsAlbatross, gull
Floating nestsGrasses and other materialsLakes, pondsGoose, duck
Underground bird nestsGrass and other materialsBurrows in the groundSparrow, titmouse
Early bird nestTwigs and grassesTrees, shrubsRobin, bluebird
Cavity bird nestsWood chips and barkHoles in treesWoodpecker, swift
Reasons Why Birds Build Nests

Nest Construction Materials of Bird Species 

Common Nest MaterialBenefits
Twigs and grassesStrong and flexible, easily found in most environments
LeavesUsed to line nests, keeps eggs warm and protected
MossSoft and absorbent, keeps eggs dry and comfortable
FeathersKeeps eggs warm and insulated
MudStrong and durable, protects the nest from elements
HairSoft and warm, keeps eggs comfortable
Spider silkStrong and lightweight, binds nests together
Man-made materialsMore than 176 bird species use string, yarn, plastic, or any other human-made materials. It can be harmful to birds.

Top 5 Reasons Why Birds Build Nests

  1. To protect themself, their eggs, and young from predators.
  2. Use soft and warm nest materials to keep their eggs and young warm. 
  3. A stable and comfortable place for eggs to hatch
  4. Nests provide a safe and secure place for baby birds to grow.
  5. Some birds build nests to attract mates. 
Do birds protect their nests

Do birds protect their nests? (How do they do it?)

Yes, birds do protect their nests. They do this in a variety of ways, including:

  • The most common way is sitting on the eggs for long periods of time to keep them warm and safe.
  • Building the nest in a safe location.
  • Protection from predators: If a predator approaches, the parent birds will often attack it or try to scare it away from the nest.
  • Camouflage: The cuckoo lays their eggs in the nests of other birds. This is a way of avoiding predators, as the eggs will be hidden among the other bird’s eggs.
  • Additional protection: Some birds will build a roof over their nest to protect it from the rain.
  • Excellent protection: The bald eagle builds in tall trees, making it difficult for predators to reach. The kingfisher digs into a riverbank, making it inaccessible to most predators.
  • False entrance: Some nests have a false entrance apart from their actual entrance. The false entrance is to confuse predators and make it more difficult for them to find the real entrance. Example: Penduline tits

Nesting season and lifecycle of a bird nest

The nesting season for birds depends on the species, foods, predators, and climate.

Most of the birds in North America start nesting in the spring when the weather is warmer and there is more food available. The Robins start nesting in the winter.

The lifecycle of a bird nest can be divided into four stages:

  1. Nest building: The birds gather materials and build their nest. Robins use twigs and grasses, while hummingbirds use spider silk.
  2. Egg laying: The female bird lays her eggs. The robins lay 3-5 eggs, while ducks lay 10-12 eggs.
  3. Incubation: The female bird sits on the eggs to keep them warm. The robin eggs hatch after 12-14 days, while duck eggs hatch after 28-30 days.
  4. Fledging: The nestlings leave the nest. The young birds are initially unable to fly, but they will learn to fly within a few weeks.
How birds select nesting sites

How birds select nesting sites

Birds choose their nesting sites carefully. They consider a variety of factors.

Nesting habitats

The nesting habitat of a bird is the type of environment where it builds its nest. 

  • Trees
  • Ground
  • Cliffs
  • Under bridges

Environmental factors

  • Climate
  • Food availability
  • Predators
  • The type of vegetation

Nest site considerations

  • The size of the nest
  • The materials available
  • The time of year

Bird Nesting Hotspots in Your Backyard

  1. Trees
  2. Shrubs and Bushes
  3. Eaves and Roof Overhangs
  4. Hanging Baskets
  5. Birdhouses
  6. Gutters
  7. Potted Plants
  8. Balconies and Ledges
  9. Vents and Chimneys
  10. Garages and Sheds
  11. Hollow Trees
  12. Open Rafters
  13. Nesting Platforms
  14. Deck Railings
  15. Fence Posts
  16. Garden Trellises
  17. Utility Poles
  18. Rock Gardens

Artificial Bird Nests 

Nest box: A nest box is a man-made structure that is designed and made of wood or plastic. They can be placed in trees, on buildings, or even in the ground.

Bird house: A bird house is a similar structure to a nest box. It is typically larger and more elaborate. Birdhouses are often made of wood. They have features such as a perch, a roof, or a nesting chamber.

Platform nests: These are flat platforms that are made of wood or other materials. They are often placed in trees or on the ground. Platform nests are often used by swallows and other birds that build open nests.

Mud nests: These nests are made of mud and other materials, such as grasses and leaves. They are often built by swallows and other birds that nest in cavities.

The different types of bird nests

Balloon nests: These nests are made of plant fibers and are attached to trees or other structures. They are often used by orioles and other birds that build hanging nests.

Dovecotes: These are large structures that are built to house doves. They typically have many compartments for the doves to nest in.

Unique nest structures

Nest typeDescriptionBird species
Dome nestMade of interwoven grass.Weaverbirds
Bell-shaped structureMade of hanging fibers.Orioles
Bulky structureMade of sticks and mud.Hornbills
Ground scrapeA simple scrape in the ground.Chickens

Birds Nesting Interesting Facts

  • The oldest bird nest is about 2,500 years old in Greenland. 
  • The most elaborate bird nests are built by weaverbirds. These nests can be up to 6 feet long and 3 feet wide.
  • T cuckoo do not build their own nests. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds.
  • Young birds learn how to build nests by watching their parents.
  • Birds that live in cold climates often build their nests in sheltered locations.
  • Forest birds use twigs and leaves while birds that live in the desert use mud and grass.
  • Some nests are camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings. Some are brightly colored to attract attention.


Which bird makes the beautiful nest?

The baya weaverbird makes beautiful nests. 

What happens to bird nests after the eggs hatch?

Some birds abandon their nests after the eggs hatch. Some birds may continue to use the nest to raise their young. Other birds may reuse the nest in subsequent years.

How long does it take a bird to build a nest?

The weaverbirds build their nests in a matter of days. The eagles take weeks or even months to build their nests.


Bird nests are an important part of the natural world. They provide a safe and secure place for birds to raise their young.

They also play a role in the ecosystem. We need to raise awareness to save the nest and create birds bird-friendly environment in the backyard. 

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