Nest sites for birds are important, but just as important is places where birds can shelter.
A thick row of bushes or trees gives birds really good protection against wind, rain and snow.
We have a laurel hedge that has a wooden fence behind it. This gives two fold protection. The hedge stops the bad weather and the fence gives ‘double insulation’.
My laurel hedge is not as healthy as it was. I want to get it sorted, but it’s made me think about planting another hedge for the future.
Some of the hawthorn hedges nearby be are, I’m sure, older than me! They give shelter to a lot of birds.
When I was a youngster we played along the grass verges and hedgerows. The hedges were mature and old then – about 50 years ago. They were our playground. These same hedgerows are still there – just the same as they were 50 years. ago. So goodness knows how old they are. But it is certain that for over 50 years these hedges have been giving birds food and shelter. Whoever planted them should have got a medal.
If you plant a hedge it is there for years.
Birds use a lot of ways to protect their nest and so make it a safe place for its eggs and young.
Nesting materials such as lichen camouflage the nest, helps keep water out and also make the nest stronger. A nest made of twigs, leaves and mosses which is built among twigs leaves and mosses is very hard to see as it blends in with its surroundings.
Wrens are known to build a lot of nests each year. Most of these nests are empty but will attract any predator – only to find it is an empty nest with nothing in for the predator to eat.
Nesting birds try to lure a predator away from a nest – sometimes pretending to be injured and so attract the predator away from their young. I have seen this happen with a ground nesting bird.
Some nests are hidden away in some sort of cavity. This means there is only a small opening to the world.
If a nest is built in a thorny hedge or a tree cavity it will be hard to attack. Some birds build nests with a domed top
Birds often protect their nests from sun, wind and rain by having the nest opening away from the bad weather or take advantage of any shelter in the area.
Plants can keep pests, bacteria and parasites away from nests. Pests, bacteria and parasites can make young birds in the nest ill. Aromatic plants are used by birds and added to the nest.
So when a bird builds a nest it is not a random thing. A lot of knowledge, thought and heredatory knowledge goes into each bird nest.