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Nest Building and Bird Behavior

Nest Building and Bird Behavior

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 358
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  • Book Info
    Nest Building and Bird Behavior
    Book Description:

    This book is a comprehensive study of nest-building behavior in birds. A much-needed synthesis of the previously scattered literature on this central aspect of avian biology, it is organized by behavior problems and focuses on evolution as its unifying theme.

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5362-5
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-2)
    Nicholas E. Collias and Elsie C. Collias
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    The object of this book is to describe the biology of nest-building behavior among birds. A nest is a special construction forming a bed or receptacle in which the eggs and young develop. Nests occur throughout the animal kingdom (N. Collias and Collias 1976), and are designed by evolution to help the parents meet the needs of their young. The type of nest built gives important insights into the life of each species, since nests focus the essential requirements of animals for reproduction. Nests are therefore very relevant to the science of ecology if we define ecology as the study...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Diversity of Nests and Major Evolutionary Trends in Nest Building
    (pp. 8-40)

    The following classification of nests is based mainly on general trends or levels in the evolution of nest building. It is followed by a discussion of these evolutionary trends.

    A. Incubation by heat from the physical environment. Eggs buried in soil; heat from sun, volcanic activity, hot springs, or decomposition of vegetable matter. Mound builders, or megapodes (Megapodiidae).

    B. Incubation by heat from physical environment and parental body heat.

    1. Eggs buried in sand for part of incubation period. Egyptian Plover.

    2. Eggs in nest; parent does not incubate during heat of day. Many Australian grass-finches (Estrildidae).

    C. Incubation primarily by parent....

  8. CHAPTER THREE Speciation and Nest Building
    (pp. 41-56)

    The major steps in the evolution of bird nests were indicated in the preceding chapter. These important steps can be investigated further by comparing closely related species or populations of the same species whose nest-building behaviors differ from each other in some major way. At the same time, since evolution integrates all aspects of the biology of a species, one can study the interrelation of various factors in the evolution of nest building. Mayr (1970:12) definesspeciesas genetically distinctive “groups of interbreeding natural populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups.”

    In analyzing the evolution of nest building...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Mate Selection and Nest Building
    (pp. 57-73)

    Pair formation in birds is closely related to nest-building behavior as seen in the selection of the nest site and in the use of nest materials by many birds during the courtship and pair-formation process. To attract a mate the male often advertises a potential nest site, nest cavity, or a more complete nest that he has constructed. In some birds manipulation of symbolic nest materials by the male helps attract the female.

    Darwin (1871) advanced the theory of sexual selection to account particularly for the secondary sexual characteristics of animals. Unlike natural selection, sexual selection, he says, ʺdepends on...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Bowerbirds, Bowers, and Nests
    (pp. 74-85)

    We define a bower as a construction adapted to facilitate the mating relationship, independently of care of eggs or young, and providing some screening from possible interference.

    The relationship between nest-building behavior and the elaborate bowers that male bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchidae) build and use in courting visiting females has long been a puzzle. In relating this behavior and the evolution of bowers we discuss the theories of the origin of bowers, and we examine the evidence for the sexually stimulating effects of nest and bower materials. We consider the effects of the emancipation of males from nesting duties and the origins...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Nest-site Selection and the Physical Environment
    (pp. 86-100)

    The purpose of this chapter and the next is to describe the relationship of nest sites and of nests to the physical environment, including changes in temperature and humidity, strong winds, heavy rainfall, and different types of substrate. The energy demands of nest building in a species will vary with the physical environment. The apportionment of energy among needs for temperature regulation, nest-building activities, and other activities will vary accordingly.

    Time and energy budgets for the various activities of a species give an overall perspective on its life history (Pearson 1954, Orians 1961). One can also compare the relative energy...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Adaptations of Nest Building to the Physical Environment
    (pp. 101-121)

    Nest-building behavior is adapted to extremes of cold, heat, wind, and rain. The nest may also be adapted to seasonal changes in conditions.

    Ancestral birds may have kept their eggs warm, as the megapodes or mound builders do today, by utilizing heat from decomposing vegetation, or from soil warmed by the sun, hot springs or volcanic action (H. Frith 1962). On New Britain, the Scrub-fowl (Megapodius freycinet) digs a burrow for its eggs, selecting soil of optimum temperature near creeks heated by volcanoes (Bishop 1979–1980).

    The open cup-nest is typical of most passerine birds, especially in the North Temperate...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Nest Competitors and Parasites
    (pp. 122-141)

    Competition for nest sites, or for nests, has had a profound influence on the evolution of nest diversity, as well as on the general life history of birds. There is much evidence of direct competition for nest sites among birds, and competition as a cause of nest diversity follows by implication. Adaptations of nest-building behavior against avian and invertebrate nest parasites have also evolved.

    During the present century the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), with improved feeding conditions, has been expanding its breeding range southward along the Atlantic coast of the United States, displacing the smaller Laughing Gull (L. atricilla) from...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Predators and Nests
    (pp. 142-163)

    The major evolutionary force determining the form and structure of nests has probably been predation. Lack (1954:77) thought it likely that predation causes over three-fourths of the losses of eggs, and young of open-nesting song birds. Also, much of the variation in location of birdsʹ nest sites is related to avoidance of predation. Birds have evolved a variety of anti-predator adaptations in their nest-building behavior (Koepcke 1972, Skutch 1976). The following classification gives an overview, with examples, of these different adaptations. After the classification is presented, each category will be discussed and exemplified in greater detail with evidence that the...

  15. CHAPTER TEN How Birds Build Their Nests
    (pp. 164-189)

    Mechanisms of nest building involve problems of selecting suitable nest materials, fastening the nest to the substrate, binding nest materials together, and shaping the nest to a durable and species-specific pattern. Nest building often takes much work, involving problems in economy of effort.

    The significant cues whereby different species of birds recognize suitable nest materials need more investigation. Some birds have been known to build their nests of an artificial or atypical material—wire, glass, cotton, string, or cement. A pair of Rock Doves (Columba livia) near a factory in Michigan built a nest basically similar to normal Rock Dove...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN The Analysis of Nest Building by Weaverbirds
    (pp. 190-210)

    This chapter attempts to illustrate the basic external forces that guide a bird at each stage of nest building. For this purpose, the analysis will be illustrated by the Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) of sub-Saharan Africa, since no other species of bird seems to have been studied from this viewpoint to a comparable degree. After this analysis in one species, we compare weaving by birds and human beings. Tinbergen (in Thorpe 1963: 39–42) gave an interesting theoretical analysis of nest building by the Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) of Europe, but without any experimental verification.

    The following description and illustrations...

  17. CHAPTER TWELVE The Development of Nest-building Ability
    (pp. 211-224)

    There have been very few systematic and experimental studies of the development of nest-building ability in young birds. Nest building by weaverbirds has been considered a classical example of ʺinstinct,ʺ but we found that a weaverbird must practice a great deal before it can build its complex nest. We carried out the experiments that are summarized below in a colony of captive Village Weavers of the West African race (Ploceus c. cucullatus) (E. Collias and Collias 1964, 1973). We have also described the breeding behavior of this West African subspecies in its natural habitat (N. Collias and Collias.

    The young...

  18. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Internal Factors in the Control of Nest Building
    (pp. 225-244)

    For a more complete understanding of nest building, it is necessary to consider the role of the internal factors that control motivation to build. The role of brain mechanisms in nest building is not known; but, fortunately, there is information on the important role of the endocrine glands. Hormones, secreted by endocrine glands, play a major role in the control of two aspects of nest building: first, sex differences in nest building, and, second, the timing of the different phases of building—starting, stopping, and integration of nest building with other aspects of breeding behavior. Each of these two problems...

  19. CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Evolution of Gregarious Nesting
    (pp. 245-274)

    The object of this chapter is to discuss the ecological forces that have led to the evolution of gregarious nesting, including communal building on one nest by three or more birds, and also including building of many nests close together. These two categories are not mutually exclusive.

    In gregarious nesting, we meet the problem of the relationship between natural selection of individuals and of groups. There has been much controversy and misunderstanding about this relationship; different viewpoints are reviewed by Krebs and Davies (1978:8–9), by Wright (1980), and by Wade (1982). Communal nesting by several birds attending one nest...

  20. APPENDIX ONE. Bird Families of the World and Their Nest Types
    (pp. 275-284)
  21. APPENDIX TWO. Where to Find Photographs of Bird Nests
    (pp. 285-286)
    (pp. 287-318)
    (pp. 319-326)
    (pp. 327-336)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-337)