Birds create nests to raise their young in. Building a nest is an involved and time consuming process but birds abandon these nests after their babies leave.
With so many empty nests you may wonder if other birds take over. Do birds use other birds’ nests? This article looks into it
Certain birds will use the nests of other birds if the nests are still suitable enough to use. The nests of migrating birds will also be used by other birds.
Do birds use other birds nests?
Making nests is quite an involved and laborious process. Birds start off by collecting the nesting materials that they need, that being mud, sticks, linchen, leaves, twigs, and anything else they need to create the nest.
The nest is then constructed within 2 to 14 days, the babies are hatched and raised in the nest and then the nest is abandoned.
One reason why birds will build a new nest for each clutch is that nest building is a part of the mating process for certain birds. Nest building attracts females to males.
Birds who never build their own nests will use the old and discarded nests of other birds.
If a bird finds a used nest soon after the nest has been abandoned, and the nest is still in reasonably good shape, then the bird will take over the nest.
If the nest needs some sprucing up, then the new birds will add to the old nest as they see fit
The nests of migrating birds are often used by other birds as well. These nests are usually left in good shape and will be used and maintained by the new birds until the migrating birds come back.
Some birds will use the materials from another bird’s old nest to make new nests. This is an easier way to build a fresh new nest that suits the recycling bird.
That being said, old nests will not be reused by new birds if the nest has parasites like mites and lice. These parasites can be detrimental to the new bird’s hatchlings.
What birds use other birds nests:
Barn owl: Barn owls can choose to lay their eggs in the nest of Hamerkop birds.
Spotted eagle: These birds can deposit their eggs into the old nests of other birds. If they do deposit their eggs in another bird’s nest, they will likely choose the nest of a hamerkop Scopus umbretta.
White-rumped swift: It is common for these birds to lay their eggs in the nests of greater striped swallow Hirudo cucullata birds. These birds may even drive the swallows out of their nests in order to nest in there
This is different than using the old nests of other birds. These birds will lay their eggs in the active nests of other birds, these types of birds are called brood parasites.
Interestingly enough, brood parasites will even allow the host birds to raise their young
Brood parasite birds will sometimes mimic the color and shape of the host bird’s eggs. This makes the host parent think that the parasite eggs are their eggs.
The parasite bird will even go as far as killing the host bird’s original eggs by pushing them out of the nest, in order for the host bird to raise the parasite eggs.
Interestingly enough, in some cases, some brood parasite birds will not mimic the host’s eggs or chicks but the host parent will still raise the parasite chicks as their own.
The size difference of the parasite chick and the host parent may be massive but the parents will raise them all the same.
Sometimes, if the host parent figures out what’s going on, then it will leave the nest and not raise the parasite birds’ young, but they will sometimes raise the parasite chicks and their own chicks if they have the ability to.
Some birds that are brood parasites include Asian Koel birds, brown-headed cowbirds, Square-tailed drongo cuckoos, honeyguides, common hawk cuckoos, indigobirds, shiny cowbirds of South America, jacobin cuckoos, and black-headed ducks.
Do birds reuse the same nest?
Birds generally do not use the same nest more than once, but some can.
The smaller bird varieties will use a nest once then move on, regardless of how good the nest looks, other birds will have to abandon their nests because the materials and construction methods used cannot support another clutch of eggs and another brood.
Birds that do reuse their nests usually have nests made in strong structures like tree cavities.
If a nest is reused, then more materials, like mud, is often added to the nest
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other baby bird related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: How To Help A Choking Bird, Bird Bleeding From Bottom, Stunned Bird Symptoms, Why Did My Baby Bird Die?