Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

How bird nests differ

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Nesting Updated: December 16, 2013 - 10:25 AM

Shortly after I was given the Chimney Swift nest last month (see previous post), I found the nest of a Northern Cardinal. Compared to the craftsmanship of the swift’s, cardinals build with less precision. Ragged comes to mind, although in defense of the cardinals their work weathered for several months before I found it. This nest is made of sticks and leaves, grape-vine bark, unidentified vine pieces, and strips of cellophane. I found it in a Buckthorn tree (Buckthorn should never be allowed to grow to tree size). It’s the first nest I’ve seen in Buckthorn, and that put it rather in the open. The other two cardinal nests I’ve seen were tucked in the middle of large and thick bushes, almost impossible to see. Above, the cardinal nest. Below, for comparison, the swift nest. Cardinals twist and weave their materials, while swifts use their saliva for glue. 

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