Nature questions- Robins and nests


A fascinating event is happening outside our kitchen window.  A robin, maybe one who’s been here for several years,  is building a nest. It’s almost mesmerizing to watch this female build such an amazing structure when you consider the fact she’s only got her feet, beak, and wings to construct this engineering marvel.  And I don’t think she uses her wings for any of the construction chores, just the flying back and forth.

I think of what I could build only using my mouth and feet and I doubt it would be anything remotely approaching the sophistication of a bird’s nest. I certainly couldn’t build a shelter of any sort. That rumination got me asking a lot of questions about how and why birds build nests. In no particular order, here they are:

How does a bird pick a site for the nest?

How does she learn how to build the nest? From watching another bird? Or is it an instinctive thing?

How do they know what sort of material to use? Twigs, grass, string, other “human stuff”?

Does it matter what material they use to make the nest?

How do they know when to begin building? I figure it has something to do with the seasons, migration, etc., but do they wait until they get pregnant to start building?

I’ve heard that a bird builds a new nest each year? If true, why? Is each nest designed to be structurally sound for only one year?

Would other robins or even other bird species use a nest the year after it was first built and used?

How the heck do they keep all that information and instinctive programming in those tiny, tiny brains??

Makes me appreciate nature’s wonders all the more. My advice: take some time to really study and contemplate a small piece of nature in your yard or neighborhood.

What have you seen in nature that has been “small” but awe inspiring at the same time?

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