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Cup-shaped Nests

The next step up from a simple platform nest is a cup-shaped nest. These are the most numerous form of nest and one that most people consider a typical nest. They are distinguishable because they have a definite inside as well as an outside and the inside is normally lined. They require more effort to make but convey more protection to the eggs and young birds.

Cup-shaped nests can be built in a variety of places, but normally they are built in trees. Often the simplest form is wedged into a 'Y'-shape division of a branch, but many birds bind or cement them directly to a bough.

The smallest cup-shaped nests belong to the Humming birds and Woodstars which build perfectly shaped thimble sized nests of moss and cobwebs. Often the female bird flies during the whole construction, hovering here and there while building up the shape. Different birds' nests take different lengths of time to build. Some are completed in a day, others take 2-3 weeks to complete.

Cup-shaped nests are often built of a mixture of substances. Redwings (Turdus iliacus), build nests of leaves, grasses and fine twigs cemented together and then lined with moss and feathers. The Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis) includes lichens and cobwebs in the building material fro the nest. Not all cup-shaped nests have a soft lining though. The female Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) lines her nest with mud, dung and rotten wood all of which is cemented together to form a very hard inner surface.

The other extreme to the delicate nest of the Humming birds are the large scraggly looking structures built by crows. The initial outside of the nest, built of twigs and grass cemented together with mud, is larger than the adult bird. Within this rough exterior a deep cup lined with moss and feathers is made. Crows' (Corvus corone) nests often look rough and ready, but inside they are warm and comfortable. Crows build very well and their nests last for several years, but unlike the closely related but larger Raven (Corvus corax), they never reuse a nest. Other birds, like Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), are happy to use them once the crow has finished with them.

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Last updated: 01 January 2003