There is evidence that some dinosaurs built primitive nests on the ground and even cared for their hatchlings there. Today many creatures besides birds—from wasps to mice to alligators—shelter their young or their eggs in nests that they construct themselves. But for variety of placement and material, and for sheer complexity of design, nothing can compare with birds’ nests. Especially among smaller birds, nests are often remarkable for their inventive use of local materials to provide support, shelter, and camouflage. The nests are tiny marvels of disposable architecture.
The finest nests are crafted by smaller birds, however, and the majority are never reused, not even by their original builders. It seems all the more remarkable that birds should create these intricate structures for such ephemeral use. It seems ironic, too, that most of us are not legally allowed to possess these nests, even after they have been abandoned. But when we are lucky enough to find them in the wild, or see them revealed in works of photographic art like the ones reproduced here, we cannot avoid holding them and the birds that made them in absolute awe.
Text: Audubon Magazine Photos: Sharon Beals
(i have a nest obsession, myself)