Friday, August 26, 2011

The NESTING Series: Part One

This is the first segment in what will be a regular miniseries on NESTS. I started writing a post covering all of the most interesting branches of this fascinating subject, and it quickly began morphing into a dissertation of epic proportions. I instead decided to break things up into several shorter bite-sized posts that will be presented every three weeks until my nesting knowledge is thoroughly exhausted. Right now I think I’ve got about 7 posts in me. Maybe 8. So get ready. 

Admittedly, I am obsessed with birds. I just counted and we have no less than 34 bird decorations perched on surfaces throughout the house. That number is rather shocking, actually. Especially considering I did a major thinning out of my collection after Micky and I first moved in together and he turned to me and said, “Wow. There really are a lot of birds in here.”

So now that you know I’m a bona fide bird lady, you can probably imagine my excitement over a review I read recently in the New York Times for a book called Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build by Peter Goodfellow.

According to my online research (I've already put this bad boy on my Christmas list), the book provides 300 detailed step-by-step illustrations of the nest-building process for over 100 species, breaking down the different kinds of nests by type: scrape, hole, platform, aquatic, mud, mound, cup or dome, and hanging nests. I was interested to learn that scrape nests, probably the variety that takes the least amount of effort to make, are not much more than a dimple in the ground, without any soft lining, and no real concern with protection from predators. Then, of course, there are the iconic cup-shaped nests that we all know and love:  

I’ve always been fascinated by birds like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird for the way they use gathered cobwebs as the glue that holds the tufts of dandelion and thistle down together in their nests: 

This haughty little fellow was photographed by the Delaware Nature Society

An insider's view found on Le Petit Cadeau

So not only are these lovely flights of fancy decked out in beautiful feathers with their own distinctive markings (there’s something startlingly beautiful about a pigeon when you see that flash of iridescent feathers as they swivel their necks, am I right, folks?), but amazingly each species is also an ingenious designer and constructor of a perfect, unique home to keep their burgeoning young safe and warm.

Next up in the NESTING series: BEEEEES!

- Cathleen  

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