What Do Birds Use To Build Their Nests




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In the article “What Do Birds Use To Build Their Nests,” you’ll explore the fascinating world of bird nest construction. Nests are not just a safe place for birds to incubate their eggs and raise their young, but they also serve as protection from predators and harsh weather conditions. Different bird species have different nest designs and use a variety of materials to build them. From sticks and twigs to feathers and mud, discover the intriguing materials birds rely on to create their cozy homes. You’ll also learn about some unique nesting habits, such as the use of snakeskin and spider silk. While providing nesting materials can be beneficial, it’s important to ensure they are safe and appropriate for birds to use. So, dive into this article and uncover the secrets of bird nest construction!

Types of nests

Cup-shaped nests

Cup-shaped nests are one of the most common types of nests found in the bird world. These nests are constructed in the shape of a cup and provide a secure and comfortable space for the birds to lay their eggs and raise their young. Many bird species, such as robins and cardinals, create cup-shaped nests using a variety of materials.

Dome nests

Dome nests are another type of nest that birds build. These nests are typically constructed using twigs and other materials, and they have a dome-like shape that offers protection and shelter to the birds. Birds like the American goldfinch are known for building dome nests.

Floating nests

Floating nests are unique in that they are built on or near bodies of water. These nests are designed to float on the water’s surface and are often constructed using materials such as twigs, grass, and feathers. Birds like the grebe and coot are known for building floating nests.

Pendulum nests

Pendulum nests are a fascinating type of nest that hangs from branches or other structures. These nests often have a distinctive pendulum shape and are built using materials like twigs, grass, and moss. Orioles are known for building pendulum nests.

Basket-shaped nests

Basket-shaped nests are built by birds using a variety of materials in a basket-like structure. These nests provide a cozy space for the birds to lay their eggs and raise their young. Birds like the song thrush and blackbird are known for building basket-shaped nests.

Materials used for nesting

Sticks and twigs

Sticks and twigs are commonly used by birds to create the framework of their nests. These materials provide structural support and stability to the nest.

Dead leaves

Dead leaves are often used as lining material in bird nests. The leaves provide insulation and help keep the eggs and chicks warm.

Bark strips

Bark strips are used by some bird species, like robins and red-eyed vireos, to construct their nests. These strips of bark add strength and durability to the nest.


Feathers are used by birds as soft lining material for their nests. The feathers provide comfort and insulation for the eggs and chicks.

Dry grass

Dry grass is commonly used by birds to fill in the gaps in their nests. The grass helps create a cozy and secure environment for the eggs and chicks.

Plant fluff

Plant fluff, such as the fluffy seeds of cattails, is used by some bird species as lining material for their nests. The fluff is soft and provides insulation for the eggs and chicks.

Pine needles

Pine needles are used by certain bird species to add a layer of protection and camouflage to their nests. The needles help blend the nest with its surroundings.


Mud is a common building material for birds that build cup-shaped nests. Birds like barn swallows and cliff swallows use mud to create the foundation of their nests.


Moss is used by some bird species, such as chickadees and cedar waxwings, as lining material for their nests. The moss adds softness and insulation to the nest.


Straw is used by birds to create a soft and comfortable lining for their nests. The straw provides cushioning for the eggs and chicks.

Unique materials used by certain bird species


Certain bird species, like the great crested flycatcher, use snakeskin in their nests. The snakeskin is woven into the sides of the nest and acts as a deterrent for predators like squirrels.

Spider silk

Some small birds, like hummingbirds, use spider silk in their nests. Spider silk is stretchy, sticky, and tough, making it an ideal material for nest construction.

Artificial fibers

Birds like Baltimore orioles incorporate artificial fibers, such as strips of twine and fishing lines, into their nests. These materials are used to create unique hanging nests.

Birds that use twigs for nests

House wrens

House wrens use twigs to create the foundation of their nests. They also use twigs as a barrier between tree cavity entrances and their nest.


Cardinals use twigs to shape the cup of their nests. Their nests have four layers: twigs, a leafy mat, grapevine bark, and a final layer of stems, grasses, and pine needles.

Birds that use moss for nests


Chickadees mostly use moss to build the foundation of the cup shape of their nest. They then line the cup with soft materials, such as rabbit fur.

Cedar waxwings

Cedar waxwings line the outside of their cup-like nests with moss. The moss adds insulation and protection to the nest.

Birds that use bark strips for nests


Robins use mud as the foundation of their cup-like nests and layer the exterior with bark, twigs, and leaves. The bark strips add strength and durability to the nest.

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireos build hanging cups made from a structure of birch bark and wasp paper. The bark strips provide support for the nest.

Birds that use mud for nests

Barn swallows

Barn swallows use mud to construct the foundations of their nests. The mud provides a sturdy base for the nest.

Cliff swallows

Cliff swallows also use mud to construct the foundations of their nests. The mud is used to build the characteristic jug-shaped nests.


Phoebes use mud to create the foundation and walls of their nests. The mud provides strength and structure to the nest.

Where to hang nesting materials

Mud pools

For birds that use mud in their nests, you can create mud pools by watering a mound of loose dirt.

Ground piles

You can pile nesting materials on the ground for birds to pick up and incorporate into their nests.

Mesh bags on fence posts or tree trunks

Hanging mesh bags on fence posts or tree trunks is another option for providing nesting materials to birds. The mesh bags allow birds to easily access the materials.

Vegetation draping

Draping nesting materials over vegetation, such as branches or bushes, can make them easily accessible to birds.

Open-top berry baskets

Placing nesting materials in open-top berry baskets can provide a safe and secure space for birds to gather materials for their nests.

Tree crevices

Pushing nesting materials into tree crevices can create hidden spots for birds to find and use in nest construction.

Why not to put nesting materials in a birdhouse

It’s best to keep birdhouses clear of nesting materials. Different bird species use different materials to build their nests, and you don’t know what type of bird will be using the birdhouse. Leaving nesting materials in the birdhouse may require the birds to remove the materials they don’t want, causing them unnecessary work.

Safe materials for bird nests

Animal fibers

Animal fibers, such as fur from dogs or sheep, are safe for birds to use in their nests. These fibers are durable and don’t soak up water as much as other materials.

Natural fibers such as raw cotton, wool, or hemp

Natural fibers like raw cotton, wool, or hemp can be used by birds in their nests. However, it’s best to avoid synthetic cotton, as it can contain unsafe toxins for birds.

In conclusion, birds use a variety of materials to build their nests, including sticks and twigs, dead leaves, bark strips, feathers, dry grass, plant fluff, pine needles, mud, moss, and straw. Some birds even incorporate unique materials like snakeskin, spider silk, and artificial fibers. It’s important to provide safe nesting materials and avoid putting materials in birdhouses. By understanding the materials birds use and offering appropriate options, we can help support their nesting efforts and create a welcoming environment for them.

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