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Little architects


Joshua Carp/silive.com

We have a big dense magnolia bush in our backyard. It's great cover for birds' nests. This year, robins took up residence. Their nest was maybe 6 feet off the ground: just low enough so I could peer into it after I saw the adults running a nonstop food shuttle to their babies.

Somehow, the three baby birds left the nest when our two cats were indoors, and the adults left too. Last night, I pried the nest off the branches it was sitting on. I was surprised at how firmly it clung to the wood.

The inside walls, from top to bottom, were coated with a thin layer of smooth mud. The bottom of the nest was covered with an inch or so of down. And the walls themselves were intricately woven of twigs and straw. Just to see how strong it was, I tried to break a good-sized chunk. The nest was so sturdy that just a small piece came off.

I couldn't build anything nearly so neat, strong and functional—and I have hands and a bigger brain than the birds (presumably). I don't know how they do it.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
nodressrehersal
Sep. 1st, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC)
It's amazing, how structurally sound robins' nests are. Cardinals' nests seem to have the loosey-goosey-ist construction.

Maybe they wonder how you can drive a car as well as you do, or teach a class, or write a blog post.
patrick_vecchio
Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:28 am (UTC)
Why drive when you can fly?

The ways they prepare their fledglings for life are far superior to what my students and I accomplish.

I'm also certain that their calls to each other are much more profound than anything I write.

I hope that God's creatures have lives that are less anxiety-ridden than human lives, even though for many of them, life is a matter of eat or be eaten—and perpetuating the species, of course.



decemberthirty
Sep. 1st, 2015 08:40 pm (UTC)
I once had the opportunity to closely observe a vireo's nest over the course of a couple days--first when the nest was empty, then with one egg in it, and finally with several eggs. It was also a marvel of engineering, though it a different was from your robin's nest. It was built in two layers: an outer one of gray twigs and curling bits of bark, and an inner one of meticulously woven pine needles. The top of the outer layer had been woven around the branches so that the nest hung suspended at the point where one branch forked into two. Here's my photo:



All this is to say that I don't know how they do it either.
patrick_vecchio
Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:24 am (UTC)
Great photo! Thanks for posting it.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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