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

Co-owner Jason Parzyk carries two growlers to fill as he serves up beer at Lake Stevens Brewing Co. The first brewery in the city is celebrating one-year anniversary this weekend. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Beer of the Week: Lake Stevens Brewing Co.’s Sour Imperial

The beer has a depth and a complex flavor profile that goes beyond just another barrel-aged stout.

Now is the perfect time to design the garden of your dreams

Find inspiration in gardening magazines, on the internet, in your neighborhood and at nurseries.

Around Thanksgiving, gardeners give thanks for the garden

What are they most thankful for? The pleasure they receive from spending time in their yards.

Great Plant Pick: Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroot’s Spire’

What: An exceptional selection of the eastern arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis “Degroot’s Spire”… Continue reading

AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

The older brother of bandmate Angus Young was the group’s key writer and leader.

Garden clubs in Snohomish, Island counties

Alderwood Garden Club: Cedar Valley Grange Hall, 20526 52nd Ave. W., Lynnwood;… Continue reading

Home and Garden calendar for Snohomish County and beyond

Printing workshop: with artist and naturalist April Richardson, 1 to 3 p.m.… Continue reading

Legendary bluesman Curtis Salgado to play Arlington show

The Northwest blues-soul-funk-R&B living legend performs with Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons Nov. 18.

This year’s Snohomish Blues Invasion has an all-star lineup

Proceeds send the CD Woodbury Trio and the Benton-Townsend Duo to the International Blues Challenge.

Most Read