Birds Build Nests in the Darndest Places

Seen a funky bird nest in your neighborhood? Celebrate Urban Birds want to know all about it.

Photo by James Zou, Flickr Creative Commons

Birds build their nests almost anywhere that’s conveniently located and safe from predators. Case in point, my dad has an eastern phoebe nest on the floodlight in his backyard and the nest of an unknown species in his garage. Yep, I’m not kidding. It’s in the garage.

Celebrate Urban Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s free, year-round citizen science project, has a new bird nest challenge: Find the funkiest nest in your neighborhood. Then, take photographs, draw a picture, create a painting, even write a poem and submit your entry for the chance to win some cool prizes.

But remember—and this is really important—look with your eyes, NOT with your hands. Do not move the nests. Birds won’t abandon a nest touched by human hands, as Frank B. Gill, former president of the American Ornithologists’ Union told Scientific American in 2007. But the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 makes it illegal to disturb native bird nests without a permit. (Here are some tips for safe observation of nesting birds, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)

To enter the challenge, e-mail with the subject line “Funky Nests in Funky Places.” Along with your artwork or writing, include in the body of your e-mail your name, mailing address, and why you’re submitting an entry. Celebrate Urban Birds must receive your entry by July 31, 2009.

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