Birds can pick odd places for their nests

  • By Sharon Wootton Herald Columnist
  • Friday, May 10, 2013 10:32am
  • Life

In any group there are those who listen to a different drummer. Birds are no exception.

Some ignore their species’ traditional build-in-a-tree approach to nests.

I have a photograph of a bird’s nest precariously sitting on an electric meter attached to a house, just around the corner from the front door.

“You can find bird nests in the most surprising places,” said Karen Purcell, who created the Funky Nests in Funky Places contest several years ago as part of the Cornell Lab’s Celebrate Urban Birds citizen-science project.

“We’ve seen them in helmets, old boots, stoplights, store signs, car tires, clotheslines, mailboxes, potted plants and even a stuffed moose head!”

The contest goes beyond photographs.

Entries may be photos, videos, artwork, poems or stories. People of all ages are welcome to participate as individuals or with a class, community center or after-school program.

Prizes include binoculars, bird feeders, cameras, iPads and other rewards.

Find more information about how to find nests, how to approach nests without disturbing the birds, and to enter the contest at www.celebrateurbanbirds.org.

Celebrate Urban Birds is a free, year-round project that focuses on the arts, creating green spaces for birds and learning how birds use urban spaces.

Here are a few funky facts about nests, provided by the Cornell Lab:

  • Most common backyard birds lay two to eight eggs. Hatching usually begins about two weeks after the last egg is laid, and it takes another two weeks before the young are ready to leave the nest.
  • Even if a nest has been built in a somewhat inconvenient place (for you), be patient. In a few weeks the birds will be gone. Meanwhile, you get a front-row seat to a wonder of nature.
  • Baby birds have brightly colored beaks that help parents hit the bull’s-eye with food.
  • For their first three days of life, nestling pigeons depend solely on “pigeon milk,” a liquid loaded with protein and fat that is produced by both the mother and father.

Nearing the end: We recently caught a National Geographic lecture, “Birds of Paradise: Extreme, Bizarre, Extraordinary” by photographer Tim Laman and ornithologist Ed Scholes.

Before, I thought that the birds of paradise were fascinating and beautiful, but now I have a new appreciation. The two photographed (39,568 images) and wrote about all 39 species in their natural habitat of New Guinea.

The otherworldly images and bizarre (to us) behaviors caught on video were fascinating. One species could only be captured at the top of the rainforest canopy, about 165 feet up, at dawn or dusk.

During mating season, the birds of paradise are performance in motion. Since there are few predators, the evolution of the birds came through sexual selection rather than the survival of the fittest, according to scientists.

Complex courtship behaviors and looks play the largest role.

Lecture: The last of the National Geographic series at Benaroya Hall is “In Search of the Ancient Maya” For more than a decade, archaeologist William Saturno has searched for clues to Mayan mysteries, making important discoveries along the way.

Although the May 19 lecture at Benaroya is sold out, there are some tickets left for the 7:30 p.m. May 20 to 21 shows. Call 866-833-4747.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.

More in Life

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Slow-roasted vegetables make sumptuous sauce for pasta

Make the basic but good spaghetti with red sauce blissfully better with this recipe.

Mocking meatloaf: One man’s loaf is another man’s poison

Some don’t like it and some do. Here are six meatloaf recipes to try.

Roasted Brussels sprouts can be the apple of picky eater’s eye

Toasted sesame seeds and diced apple add flavors that compliment the sprouts’ earthiness.

Arlington eagle fest wants your nature-themed artwork, haiku

Local residents of an artistic bent are invited to submit… Continue reading

Dylan Farrow says she wants to bring down Woody Allen

The 32-year-old said in an upcoming interview that she is telling the truth about him abusing her.

Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith and U2 added to Grammys performance roster

Also unveiled is a performance by pop star Miley Cyrus and superstar piano-rocker Elton John.

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman listens to a guide at the Sci-Tech Complex in Pyongyang, North Korea, last summer. Rodman was arrested Saturday on suspicion of DUI in Southern California. (Kim Kwang Hyon / Associated Press file)
Rodman checks into rehab after DUI arrest

His agent says he’s dealing with his longtime struggle with alcoholism.

Hau Tran sings as Vietnamese seniors eat at Homage’s Center for Healthy Living on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. Each weekday the center offers its room for various cultures to get together for activities and lunch while speaking their native languages. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Seniors of four cultures gather for food, fitness and fun

Homage’s Center for Healthy Living offers a venue for programs in the seniors’ native languages.

Most Read