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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote® - Choosing Where to Nest

Air Date: Week of June 10, 2011

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A male Warbling Vireo sits on his suspended nest. (Photo: Tom Grey ©)

Home is where the nest is, at least for birds. And BirdNote’s Michael Stein says bird species have different specs for where to hang their home. (Photo: © Tom Grey)

Transcript

[BIRD NOTE THEME]

GELLERMAN: They say that home is where the heart is - but for some female birds, it’s where they decide to lay their eggs, as Michael Stein tells it in this week's BirdNote®


An American Robin sits on its nest. (Photo: Tom Grey ©)

[SOUNDS OF BUILDING]

STEIN: 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.

[CHIRP OF THE DARK-EYED JUNCO]

STEIN: Biologists call this “nest-site selection.” Birds find many different places to lay their eggs, from burrows and cliff edges 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.

[SONG OF THE AMERICAN ROBIN]

STEIN: 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.

[SONG OF THE WARBLING VIREO]

STEIN: The much smaller Warbling Vireo hangs its nest from the fork of a slender branch…

[SONG OF THE WARBLING VIREO]

STEIN: …a tiny sack suspended by grass fibers and spider silk. And a junco?

[SONG OF THE DARK-EYED JUNCO]

STEIN: It forgoes the branches entirely to build its cup nest on the ground, between the tree’s roots and concealed by overhanging ferns.

[MORE BIRD SONG]

STEIN: Different “nest-site selection” for sure. But the one thing these and most birds’ nests have in common? The female chooses the site.


Dark-eyed Junco eggs in the nest on the ground.(Photo: S. Kropidlowski ©, USFWS)

[SONG OF THE WARBLING VIREO]

GELLERMAN: That's Michael Stein with BirdNote®. For some photos, flit over to our website, LOE.org. And while you're online, check out our sister program, Planet Harmony. Planet Harmony welcomes all and pays special attention to stories affecting communities of color. Log on and join the discussion at myplanetharmony.com.

 

Links

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® - Choosing Where to Nest was written by Bob Sundstrom.

 

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