Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Detailed Look at Chickadee Nests

From Cornell University's NestWatch Program

At NestWatch we are often asked what materials birds use to build their nests. A recent study in Ohio focused upon the construction of Carolina Chickadee nests.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Chickadee
After chickadee chicks had fledged, researchers collected nests, dissected them, and identified their components. They found that only 10 of 215 locally available species of moss and 2 of 85 local liverwort plant species were actually utilized in nest construction.

The most commonly used species typically were those that anchor tightly to tree bark and are known to cause skin rashes when touched by humans.

It is theorized that even though these particular species are difficult for chickadees to harvest, they are specifically selected because they produce an irritating chemical that repels nest parasites, although further research is required to confirm this.

Andreas, Barbara K. 2010. Use of Bryophytes by Carolina Chickadees (Poecile carolinensis) in Nest Construction. Evansia, 27(1): 23-29.

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