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When it comes to building a house, one of the first decisions is where to put it. The same is true for birds. It's called "nest site selection." And one thing most birds have in common? The female chooses the site. A robin builds its nest on top of a stout branch. This Warbling Vireo hangs its nest from the fork of a slender branch.
Choosing Where to Nest
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Sounds of a construction: skill saw and hammering]
When it comes to building a house, one of the first decisions to make is where to put it. The same is true for birds. [Dark-eyed Junco] Biologists call this “nest site selection.”
Birds find many different places to lay their eggs, from burrows and cliff ledges to cavities in trees. Most familiar is the cup-shaped nest of plant material that most songbirds build each year.
Yet even among these cup-nesters there is great variety.
Picture three species, and one tree.
[American Robin song] A robin builds its nest on top of a stout branch. It weaves together twigs and grass stems and even discarded string, then lines the cup with mud.
[Warbling Vireo song] The much smaller Warbling Vireo hangs its nest from the fork of a slender branch, [Warbling Vireo song] a tiny sack suspended by grass fibers and spider silk.
And a junco? [Dark-eyed Junco song] It forgoes the branches entirely to build its cup nest on the ground, between the tree’s roots and concealed by overhanging ferns.
Different “nest site selection” for sure.
But the one thing these and most birds’ nests have in common? The female chooses the site.
You can hear any of the BirdNote shows again and read the transcripts when you come to birdnote.org. Even subscribe to the podcast or the weekly email preview of next week’s shows. [Warbling Vireo song] That’s birdnote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. American Robin recorded by G.A. Keller; Warbling Vireo 110999 by T.G. Sander; Dark-eyed Junco 118692 by G.A. Keller.
Suburban ambient recorded by C. Peterson
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org June 2014/2021 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# nest-04-2011-06-03 nest-04b