The Marginalian
The Marginalian

Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them

As home improvement shows continue to plague the primetime airwaves, photographer Sharon Beals offers a refreshing perspective shift in the powerful reminder that birds, with their incredible ability to build delicate and sturdy homes from scratch with wildly innovative materials, are the ultimate DIY homebuilding masters. In Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them, Beals takes a rare and intimate glimpse of these remarkably crafty creatures, drawing from the collections of the California Academy of Sciences, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley, and the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology to showcase the most astounding avian architects from around the world.

During the 1800s, the mass killing of barn swallows for decorative hat feathers inspired one of the first organized conservation movements. Today, the barn swallow roams free, building nests from mud and twigs on the walls of barns, sheds, and bridges in North America, Europe, and Asia. This nest comes from Manchuria.
House Wren
House wrens are born into a do-or-die life, leaving the nest as early as two weeks after hatching, followed by their parents who take care of them as they learn to fly. Those who fail to take off are left behind and, without parental care, die.
Caspian Tern
Caspian terns parent on equal terms, taking turns incubating the eggs and feeding the hatchlings in nests that range from simple holes in the beach sand to elaborately constructed homes made of seaweed, pebbles and colorful shells.
Pine Siskin
Masters of camouflage, these cold-loving birds make their nests exceptionally well-hidden, beginning the mating and nesting process in the dead of winter.
House Finch
For house finches, courtship is a pregame aptitude test: The male pretends to regurgitate food, while the female imitates the begging behavior of a hatchling. Females are known for erecting nests in odd locations ranging from old hats to Christmas wreaths.

Stunningly shot and thoughtfully captioned, Nests is a poetic reminder of nature’s spectrum of creativity and scope of practical wisdom.

HT @paulrauber; images courtesy of Sierra Club

Published March 29, 2011




Filed Under

View Full Site

The Marginalian participates in the and affiliate programs, designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to books. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book from a link here, I receive a small percentage of its price, which goes straight back into my own colossal biblioexpenses. Privacy policy. (TLDR: You're safe — there are no nefarious "third parties" lurking on my watch or shedding crumbs of the "cookies" the rest of the internet uses.)