Birds can pick odd places for their nests

  • 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

The ‘Whimsical Woman’ shares what she learns on the trail

Jennifer Mabus came here from Nevada and Hawaii. She leads hikes and blogs about them.

Branch out: ‘Tasting Cider’ recipes call for hard apple cider

Top cider makers share how they like to make hush puppies, bread pudding and the pear-fect cocktail.

‘Tasting Cider’ a sweet resource for hard apple cider fans

Erin James, the editor-in-chief of Cidercraft magazine, wrote a book all about the fermented drink.

For Texas BBQ, look for the school bus at the reptile museum

This husband-and-wife team has been serving up brisket and more for a decade in Monroe.

You won’t be able to stop eating this colorful chicken salad

The slaw of bell pepper, cabbage and carrot holds up well overnight in the refrigerator.

Raising grandkids can feel like the second time around

The responsiblities of serving as a parent can compete with the joys of being a grandparent.

Commentary: Community Transit to keep up with regional growth

Snohomish County’s bus system prepares for more people — including more older residents.

Fur & Feathers with energetic Lincoln and big-attitude Chase

One dog is not a fan of cats or men. The other definitely prefers adults only.

Almost everyone has questions about Social Security

The most frequent guestion about retirement benefits: ‘When can I start receiving them?’

Most Read