Birds build their nests in many different places, from holes in trees to rock faces and even on the water. Some birds are highly skilled at constructing their nests, while others have a more straightforward home.
In this guide, I’ll take you through some of these bird nests, including the largest and smallest.
Which Bird Builds The Biggest Nest?
The Bald Eagle is the grand champion bird nest builder. A nest of bald eagles was found near St. Petersburg in Florida. It measured nearly 10 feet wide by 20 feet deep, weighed over 4,400 lbs, and was almost 10 feet wide.
This nest was unusual due to its vast size. Most bald eagle nests measure 5-6 feet in diameter and are 2-4 feet high.
Bald Eagles often reuse the same nest yearly, adding new parts to it every season. Males and females build the nests from interwoven sticks lined with grass, stalks, and moss. The nests are constructed carefully and can take three months to make, and if the couple has been successful in breeding, they will return to the same nest year.
Which Birds Make The Largest Communal Nest?
The social weaver builds the largest communal bird’s nest. Some species create single nests, while others make entire complexes. The social weaver builds the latter. The social weaver is the most prolific builder of communal nests in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.
The most prominent structures can house more than 100 breeding pairs and offer refuge for other birds like lovebirds, falcons, the pygmy falcon, and finches after the breeding season.
Each chamber of the vast nest is made with feathers and soft grass, making it very comfortable. A nest can weigh 2,000 pounds and contain more than 100 chambers.
The nest’s entrances are approximately 250 mm long and 76 cm wide. The social weavers are clever birds, and the entrances are equipped with sharp sticks to deter snakes and other predators from entering the nest. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop all predators, and Cape cobras and Boomslangs can decimate a nest, eating up to 70% of the eggs.
Nests of sociable weavers are semi-permanent structures that multiple generations use over three to four decades. They include advanced ventilation and insulation systems that keep their interior cool in the scorching African sun. The nests provide shade so the birds can live in hot, dry areas. The central chamber retains heat and is used by the weaver to rest during the night and winter.
Which Bird Makes The Smallest Nest?
Hummingbirds are the smallest birds on the planet and make the smallest nests. Hummingbirds create nests on the top of tree branches using plants, soft material, and spider webs. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds decorate the nests with lichen flakes.
The nests are highly flexible but also very small. The nests of female hummingbirds are about the same size as a quarter, about an inch. They usually lay two eggs, each the size of a coffee bean. The nest grows as the baby Hummingbirds mature, making it tighter and cozier.
Other Amazing Bird Nests
The ovenbird is named because some nests resemble primitive cooking pots with lids. The most distinctive nest is the red ovenbirds, a sturdy, thick structure made of clay. Their nest is constructed by both males and females and takes about six weeks to complete.
The Rufous Hornero, found in South America, thrives in urban environments and can adapt quickly to human encroachment. Many red ovenbirds now prefer man-made structures for sheltering their young. This allows them to leave their nests open to other bird species like the saffron finch, which can use their sturdy nests.
Their nests are seen on fenceposts, telephone poles, and many buildings.
Hamerkops, also known as the umber bird, hammerhead, or anvilhead, is a medium-sized wading bird from Madagascar to Arabia and Africa.
The nests are over 1.5m wide and can support a man’s weight. Nests are usually made of over 10,000 sticks and constructed in the forks of trees but can also be built on a wall, cliff or dam.
To protect their nests from water, Hamerkops cover the nests with brightly colored objects and line them up with mud. The nest can be built by both sexes and can hold up to four eggs annually.
Bee-eaters are well-known for their distinctive nests. These nests are made of sharp holes in the ground or along the sides of cliffs where they raise their young.
Breeding pairs work hard to dig out nests. They use their hands to scrape the ground with their fingers and then kick the dirt or sand out with their feet. This process can take many false starts until they have created a hole large enough for four to five eggs.
Bats, snakes, and other birds use the nests of bee-eaters after the hatchlings are gone.
The Southern Masked Weaver
The Southern Masked Weaver needs to have a great nest as, without it, no females will be interested in breeding with him. They construct intricate nests from wide strips of grass, palm blades, and reeds. Male weavers can build up to two dozen nests each season, taking between nine to fourteen hours each.
Once built, they proudly show their work to any interested females. The male will build an entrance tunnel into the nest if a female is impressed enough with the nest. Then, his mate will add her distinctive touch by covering the inside with feathers and soft grass.
The Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
It is difficult to imagine a more unpleasant place to nest than inside a Saguaro Cactus. However, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl manages this feat. Although the owl does not carve the hole for the nest, its feathers offer adequate protection from painful needle sticks.
The Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl doesn’t only construct his nest in cactus. They will use most trees as nesting places as long as it has a suitable cavity.
The Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl is now endangered, with only a handful of individuals seen each year in Arizona. Saguaro Cactuses are also under environmental pressure and often subject to fires caused by invasive buffelgrass.