THE NESTS OF BIRDS
 IF you want to know how cleverly nests are made, you
should collect a few which the birds have deserted, or
from which the young birds have flown.
You will find a Hedge-sparrow's nest in many a hawthorn
bush, and though it is a simple nest, I think you will
find, if you pull it to pieces, that you cannot put it
together again as well as the bird did.
A Chaffinch's nest is more finely woven. You will most
likely find one in the apple trees in the orchard. It
is made of dry grass and moss matted together with wool
in the shape of a deep cup, and lined with hair and
feathers. Outside, the bird will most likely have stuck
pieces of grey or white lichen. Lichen is the
papery-looking plant which grows on apple trees, and
which children call grey moss. The pieces woven in
help to hide the nest in an apple tree. When the
Chaffinch builds in a green hedge she often uses green
Now try to find a Thrush's nest. It may be in a
laurel-bush or a fir-tree. It is large and quite firm,
not soft like the hedge-sparrows nest. For the thrush
plasters the inside with mud, or cow-dung, or rotten
wood, till it is almost as hard as the inside of a
When you have looked at these nests, you will want to
see one built next spring. But this is not so easy. For
birds try to hide the cradles of their
 little ones, and do not like to work when anyone is
Rooks are the easiest to watch, for they build in high
trees, and therefore are not shy. You may see them
flying along with pieces of stick in their mouths, and
bringing mud and clay to plaster them together.
Sometimes you may see the old rooks staying behind in
the rookery, to steal the sticks from the nests of the
young rooks while they are away, instead of fetching
them for themselves.
Birds do not all make the same shaped nests. The Lark
makes her nest of grass in a rut or a furrow of the
field. The green Plover or Peewit, whose cry you know
so well, "pee-weet, pee-weet," lays a few bits of
grass, or rush, in a marsh or in a rough field. Her
little ones run about as soon as they come out of the
The Swallows build their nests of mud and straw on the
rafters of barns, or under the ledges of chimneys, in
the shape of a shallow basin, and line them with
feathers. But the Martins build under the eaves. They
make their nests of clay stuck against the wall like a
bag, with only a small hole at the top. It is very
funny to see the tail of a martin sticking out, when
she puts her head into her nest to feed the young ones.
The Woodpecker makes a hole in a tree for her nest, and
lines it with chips of wood. The Nuthatch looks out for
a hole in a branch, and lines it with flakes of bark
and dry leaves. Then, if it is too big, she fills up
the opening with clay, all except one little hole.
 Rooks and Pigeons build coarse nests. The rooks build
theirs of sticks and turf lined with grass and moss.
The pigeon leaves hers so loose that the eggs almost
Then the little singing birds, the Warblers, the
Thrushes, the Nightingales, and the Robins build lovely
cup-nests. Reed-warblers weave their nest round two or
three reeds, or other plants, near the water. It is
made of blades of grass and lined with water-weed. The
Wren, the long-tailed Titmouse, and the Chiff-chaff,
build nests in the shape of a ball, with a hole in one
side. The chiff-chaff lines hers with a beautifully
soft layer of feathers.
Wrens build in all sorts of strange places, in walls
and trees, in holes of rocks, on the tops of hedges and
on the banks of rivers. If you look about near the nest
in which the wren has laid her eggs you will often find
one or two other nests built exactly like it, but not
 feathers. They are called "cock's nests." We do not
know why the birds build them. Perhaps one day you may
find out if you watch. The chiff-chaff hides her nests
in the hedges or banks, and the long-tailed titmouse
loves to build in the gorse bushes.
Once two Wrens were watched building their nest in a
juniper tree. They began at seven o'clock in the
morning. The mother wren brought some leaves from a
lime-tree. She put one leaf in a fork of the tree, and
laid the others round it. Then she went back for more.
So she went on all day, bringing in leaves, and matting
them together with moss, and all the while the
cock-wren sang to her from the top of the tree.
By seven o'clock in the evening she had made the
outside of the nest, in the shape of a ball with a hole
in one side.
Next day the two birds began work together at half-past
three in the morning. They worked for eight days,
carrying in moss and feathers. When they had done, the
nest was a firm little ball, lined with a thick layer
of soft feathers, for the wee wrens to lie in, when
they were hatched.
Then the mother wren laid five small white eggs with a
few red spots upon them, and sat for a whole fortnight,
while her mate sang to her, and brought her insects to
Examine nests. Mud-built—swallow, martin.
Woven and mud-lined—thrush.