We were out on a hunt for spring this weekend as we were up North. Rather ironic really. Travelling North to look for signs of warmer weather. We looked and really tried – but spring, on the 9th of March, was not yet to be found. No buds, or puddles, or even grass peeking through the snow. Apparently – despite my best efforts, we are still in the midst of winter.
But, as we were hunting, we did make a neat discovery. In a low tree, just off the side of a quiet road we spotted a birds nest. My kids went over to investigate – low and behold it was empty (due to it NOT being spring). The birds nest was quite old, and for the sake of science and learning we decided to bring it home for some investigation. *** most small birds do not return to an old nest, and as long as it is not an active nest with brooding adults, eggs, or endangered birds it is generally legal and safe to remove nests in Canada and the US***
Before we started to look at the birds nest in detail we had some guesses about what we thought the nest may be made of. The littler ones guessed hay and sticks and things that could be seen from looking at it. We then decided we should take it a part to get a better look.
It was very cold outside, so we brought our exploration inside (to my patient, supportive, and amazing) Mother-in-laws kitchen table. We laid down a garbage bag, got some tweezers, and started investigating this bird’s nest. We really should have used gloves as an added precaution in case of mites or bacteria.
At first my little explorers were careful taking little bits of hay off at a time. Then they decided to take bigger chunks off. It was a surprise to see how hard the center of the birds nest was. That mud was packed so very tightly. It was truly astonishing to think that a little bird could create such a nest. I even wondered how a bird could create such a thing. So we did some research.
As it turns out, most species of birds make nests in their own special ways. In general, birds use their beaks and talons to carry grass, mud, fibers, sticks, and the like to their nest. They compress and compress the nest, weaving the fibers and grass, creating a solid nest. They line the inside with soft grass, feathers, and hair to insulate the nest even more for their chicks.
Here is more information on removing a birds nest: http://birding.about.com/od/birdhouses/a/Removing-Bird-Nests.htm
And more information on how birds build their nests: http://www.biokids.umich.edu/guides/tracks_and_sign/build/birdnests/
I think we will do a bit more discovering about bird’s nests. Perhaps we will try to make one ourselves outside once spring (actually) arrives.
My kids were so interested in this bird’s nests exploration. It was such a simple activity and a great way to explore the natural world. This activity made me long for spring even more! Though I truly try to enjoy each season – this winter has been very hard. Record low temperatures, and amazingly long. Bring on the spring!!