Many thanks to everyone who participated in Funky Nests in Funky Places 2013! We’ve enjoyed receiving your stunning entries.
For this Challenge, we asked you to be creative and take photos, create some artwork, shoot video, write a story or a poem, or create a sculpture. The goal was to show a bird’s nest built in some out-of-the-way or out-of-this-world place. Your entries were fantastic!
Below you will find the Recognized Entries and Youth Recognitions. Enjoy!
A huge thanks to Fujifilm Digital Cameras and Optical Devices, Celestron, and Pennington. Prizes include binoculars, cameras, bird guides, bird feeders, bird apps, posters, books, bird sound CDs, and an iPad!
There’s an opening in the Saguaro
Large enough to be a home in the desert.
It’s a prickly entrance to keep away
Intruders, but it’s an abode from the heat
To the right kind of resident.
In the gloaming you can see the eyes
Of the Saguaro’s chosen resident,
Adjusting to the light. He knows how to
Responsibly peck at the Saguaro’s insides
For needed water, yet not harm the cactus,
So that she stays a Living Home. And when
That chosen resident makes ready to depart for
Feeding, he even fondly hoots to his Home,
Telling the Saguaro in symbiotic affection
That he will return after his work is done.
The Saguaro keeps her select resident’s
Downed feathers as mementos, like a
Military wife waiting for deployment’s end.
And with the Great Horned Owl’s regular
Homecoming the Saguaro is rejuvenated to
Perform daylight’s photosynthesis for
Their dual harmonious sustenance.
San Diego, CA
The Garage Door Opener
By I.M. Robin
Every year I built my nest in shrubs along their drive
And then this year the shrubs were gone!
Time to hatch a new plan to survive
Their garage will do
A top this box I’ll make my nest
And if by chance they close the door
I’ll give them little rest
It’s only fair
They took my bush
And now they wish that door could close
But don’t you fret
I’ll say good bye
The day my young have learned to fly
Highland Township, MI
It’s been over two weeks since we last were able to close our garage door. We first noticed The mother Robin waiting on our car out side the garage early every morning for three days in a row. Then she began flying into the window. When we spoted the nest a top the garage door opener we began leaving the door open all day and night. Hatching has begun… so only a couple more weeks of leaving the door open! Then I’ll just have to post an eviction notice for the chipmunks and other critters that have enjoyed having the door open!
This picture was drawn using colored pencils by an eight year old who is PASSIONATE about birds!
One especially “site challenged” Robin in my backyard has chosen – not once, but twice – a location at the end of a house gutter. This is a fine place for a nest as long as it never rains, but one eventually requiring flood insurance.
The first nest (picture no. 1) suffered the soggy consequences and prompted her to move to second identical gutter location (picture no. 2). Timing allowed for one egg deposit before it too suffered the fate of all things located within a rain gutter.
I have submitted some photos, a cartoon and ditty to go with this submission.
My submission is a picture of a blackbird made up of other birds that I printed out from the internet. The full image is supposed to be a blackbird in a nest.
Jane l. Ferraro
New York City, NY
I’m glad that the sculpture of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging on my terrace wall provided a safe, secure spot for these sweet birds. What a shock it was when I first saw the happy couple building this Very Funky Nest, which is just a few feet from my living room window. It’s been a joy to watch the miracle unfold. I was in the process of mourning the loss of my dog and this provided a much needed distraction. The photo was taken from inside my apartment since the few times I poked my head outside, Ms. Robin shot me a look as if to say, “please give us some privacy.” So I did. The result was three healthy fledglings who have since taken up residence across the street in the park.
My husband needed his utility trailer to haul some wood and had his pirogue turned on its side on top of it. When he turned the pirogue over and pulled it off the trailer, he discovered some "babies." Coming inside the house, he told me to get my camera ready cause he found some baby squirrels. I grabbed my camera and headed outside to see. When I looked at the tiny little things squirming around on their backs - all naked, I knew in an instant they were newly born baby birds...five of them! I looked for the nest and found it in the corner of the pirogue, but it was all toppled over. So I stuffed the nest back into the corner as best I could and one by one, gently picked up each chick and placed it back into the nest.
Nightfall was fast approaching and we had to figure out how to put the pirogue back to the same height. I didn't want to leave it on the ground for fear of a raccoon or cat might eat the newly born chicks. After searching a while, we finally thought of the work saw-horses and propped the pirogue on top of them which brought it up to about the same height. I prayed the momma wouldn't abandon her nest due to all the disruption. Afterwards, I realized, with all that excitement, I didn't even take one photograph!
The next morning, I anxiously checked on the new baby chicks. I was happy to see them still in the nest and the momma coming to feed them. That is when I knew they were Carolina Wren's. This time, I took some photographs and video. I watched momma bird come to feed her hungry chicks...although they were pretty much silent the first day or two. Day two, momma bird plucked one chick out the nest and placed it on the bottom of the pirogue about two feet away from the nest. It was still alive and at first I thought it had tumbled out somehow...so I put it back in. The next day, the bird was out the nest again...and I put it back in again. The third day the same thing happen and then I realized the momma probably was doing that because something was wrong with the chick. Maybe it got hurt from the initial disruption or something else happened. So I put it back once more and vowed that if she did it again, I'd leave it to fate.
Well, fate happen when I was gone all day the following day out of town and was not there to see the chicks. The following morning, I discovered the chick dead in the same spot. I disposed of it so it wouldn't attract any unwanted company. However, the other four chicks were growing and getting their feathers...all bluish and pretty. Momma bird continued to feed her chicks and squawk at me when I got too close or was there when she was ready to feed them.
On day five, six and seven, it rained and rained and rained! The pirogue filled up with water and I was worried the chicks would drown. I built them a leaf umbrella from small tree branches on top of the point of the pirogue to help keep some of the rain off the nest. Luckily, the point where the nest was the pirogue was higher than the other point and most of the water stayed on the other end. Another plus was a knot hole about five inches down from the side so the water wouldn't go higher that that...cause it drained out! However, during those three days, I had to bail out the pirogue three times!
With being toppled over, raccoons and cats running around, Mississippi Kites flying above, rain storms, wind and the pirogue filling up with water three times, it was a miracle that these little birds were able to fledge. Although I missed them fledging for the first time, I spotted them in a nearby tree with some fuzzy mohawks still on top, momma bird still bringing them spiders and worms and larvae to feed their hungry little mouths!
I enjoyed watching these birds grow and helping them to survive as best I could. Now, I watch them hang around my porch, looking for bugs, competing with their own siblings for food. I hope they come back to nest again around my home, but not in the pirogue!
Carolina wren builds nest in pirogue and overcomes great obstacles to fledge four out of five baby chicks. Toppled nest, threat of raccoons, cats, and Mississippi Kites, rain and wind storms and almost drowning!
the sound of the roller coaster booms.
As we stand in line I look up and see a nest up high,
bumping with the ride in the booming Boomerang roller coaster.
I am surprised
the birds are still alive.
Its not a quiet place to rest,
the odd location of this nest.
I found this sparrow nest in my neighbor’s newspaper box. I guess the paper hasn’t been delivered in a while.
Green Bay, WI
This Mourning Dove laid her eggs in one of the ashtrays by the loading dock entrance to our plant. There is activity in this area from early morning to late evening. She didn’t seem to mind. She laid 2 eggs, but only one hatched. It was an exciting event for all our employees. I had to stand on the tire of a semi tractor to get these pictures.
House wren nesting in a shoe.
Cove Harbor South, Rockport, TX
A pair of great blue herons is raising one chick in a nest built near the top of a large crane in a boatyard. The area is adjacent to the intracoastal waterway, Aransas Bay in Rockport, Texas. Originally there were two GBH nests on the crane, but one was abandoned a few weeks ago.
Cle Elum, WA
Years ago, a Northern Flicker (red-shafted) was attracted to the figurehead that is mounted on the corner of my work shop. So he decided to hollow out a nice deep cavity, starting at her belly button. It served as a nice protected place to escape from bitter winter cold. But because the location is right next to the shop door, my coming and going always disturbed its peaceful respite and it would bolt. Well, this year, I haven’t been able to work in the shop, so not causing any disturbance to the avian domestic tranquility. And the Flickers chose the lady’s belly as the prime place to start a family! Pictured is the male flicker, who seems to be doing most of the support work as any good dad would do. The female is rarely sighted, occasionally showing up to relieve the male from his duties. My wife was able to get a photo just before he entered, not easy since they arrive and depart in a flash. The juniors have not been sighted yet, should be soon.
Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter School, Ms. Wallstrum\'s 1st Grade Class
San Luis Obispo, CA
A collection of stories, poems, and art created by the children after observing nesting Red-tailed Hawks via the Cornell webcam and also via binoculars, as there is a nesting pair at the edge of the school’s playground. They were also inspired by a House Finch nest on their classroom’s windowsill, and the Funky Nest Contest video.
Salt Lake City, UT
Hummingbird built its nest on the head of this statue of a bird on the front porch.
We spent summer school learning about birds and how to bird watch. The students loved it….it was great sitting on blankets on the lawn and waiting for birds to land and to discover their unusual places for nests. Students were excited and came back to school eager to share what birds they had seen at home and to report on their own Funky nests in their neighborhoods.
We hung a plastic owl to keep the swallows out of the covered boat lift on our lake. It was not there yesterday, but was a full nest with eggs today.
My 12 year old son, Scott, is undergoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at McMaster Children's Hopspital in Hamilton, Ontario. Our family has to spend a lot of time at the hospital (his treatment plan is over 2 years long!) - so we tend to use the small outside play area at the hospital quite a bit. Last week, while we were waiting for Scott's blood work results, we sat outside in the play area. We heard lots of chirping, and kept looking around for the birds. There are no trees in the area - only concrete and buildings - but we finally got a glimpse of a house sparrow with some dry grass in its mouth, heading into a small crack underneath the windows of the hospital. After a few minutes, we saw another sparrow coming and going from the crack under the windows. When we looked closer, we could see that there was obviously a nest in the wall. We look at the hidden nest everytime we go to the hospital - but we still haven't seen any baby birds - only one or two adult sparrows flying into or out of the crack.
Bird watching has become a fun activity for everyone in our family. It's relaxing (and educational) for Scott and his younger sister Christen to sit by the window at our house and try to identify the birds that they see. Thank goodness we have many trees in our neighbourhood, as well as a nearby creek - so we do get a lot of birds flying around our house. We have a small bird identification book that we consult everytime we see a new type of bird. Both Christen and Scott amaze me when they correctly identify a bird that they've seen - they're getting good at it! We have also enjoyed watching the live cams of the hawks and great blue herons. We saw a few eggs being hatched, and we love to watch the babies being fed.
Thank you so much for your great website and live cameras - they have given us an opportunity to realize that this world really is a wonderful place (even though Scott is sometimes feeling very sick). Watching the birds have helped us put things into perspective and have helped us get through this crazy time in Scott's life.
Hamilton, ON, Canada
Please see story below.
This Funky Bird Nest is nestled within the depths of a binary computer code sculpture which is six feet in diameter made up of aluminum numbers 0 and 1 welded together. The sculpture is named “Thought-Rise in Vacuum 1” by Hans-Christian Berg of Finland.
South Chatham, Chatham, MA
A 45 year old doll house stored in the loft of the barn. Carolina Wrens made the appropriate choice of the nursery for their nest.
Hummingbirds nesting on, rather than in, a birdhouse.
Couldn’t believe my eyes some years ago when I saw that a European Starling chose this very literal spot to build a nest and raise her brood.
Santa Cruz, CA
These Bewick’s wrens built their nest in the brain cavity of the bison skull on our front porch. There are three nestlings keeping both parents very busy! We haven’t figured out how to get enough light into the brain cavity to be able to photograph the nest itself, but these photos should give you the idea.
We found this series of Robin’s nests on the ladder that hangs on the back of our shed. It appears the Robins began building a new nest in each rung, each time making it a little more complete than the one before, until, at the furthest to the left, you can see that they completed the nest. It’s as though they wanted us to see each step of the process!
We used to have a stoney roof top which the gulls loved. A couple years ago we had to replace the roof and now it’s a flat surface so the gulls took a fancy to nesting in our potted plants! Evolution at work and it must feel much nicer overall.
South Bend, IN
Our homeschool class found this gutter behind our garage on the gutter. We watched it with the baby robins for what seemed like just five days and they were grown and out of the nest. We still see them flying about but never in the nest. My husband was trying to replace the gutters but he had to wait until the baby robins were grown and gone but now we don’t want to get rid of the nest.
I’m a firefighter and have watched this mother robin build her nest in the protected area underneath the helmet of the firefighter statue at my fire station.
C. F. Jensen
Pleasant Grove, UT
I drew this picture of a mother bird flying with a worm to give to the baby. The nest is on top of the bird house, hanging from the tree.
the red is the flag, the blue is the mailbox, the black is the darkness, the brown is the nest, and the blue is the blue jay. then there is a house with a road. by David, age 5
Huntington Beach, CA
A mother Anna’s hummingbird has build a nest right next to a busy trail at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, CA.
San Vito, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
My husband noticed this long-billed starthroat nest and pointed it out to me. I was completely confused when he kept pointing at the shoes dangling from the cables over the busy street… until I saw that there was a little hummingbird sitting on a nest carefully constructed on the tip of the shoe. I watched as bus after bus passed just under the nest and the bird didn’t even flinch. It fledged one chick.
one day as I was taking my laundry off the line I felt something in an oven mitt I had washed, and discovered a wren had started building a nest!
Salt Lake City, UT
I took this picture at an aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah. The little guy was moving so fast it was hard to keep the camera focused on him.
The back screen door hinge was broken,
the wind kept whipping it open and banging it,
night after night, like a drunk friend
who finds his way to your door to ask
to take him in “just one more time”.
So we tied it to the railing
with twine and wire and an old
electric cord, and stayed inside
for the long, white winter.
You can get used to something
not being there when you never use it,
you can forget that all things
have a beginning and an end,
you can forget that the winged ones
find a home wherever there is space
for twig and grass and mud, and so
it was Talia who spotted them one
spring day, coming home from second
grade: between the tied down door,
the safety lights we need to replace,
and the eave that leans down to earth
more each year: a robin bringing words
to three little mouths, a winged mother
who knew enough to know that when people
forget to look up, they won’t remember how to see.
Natalie, Age 6
Why is that bird living in my hair?
A funky nest in a funky place,
A home is a home, no matter the physical space.
Houses are for more than just wrens, finches, and sparrows,
Unfortunately, less common for Bell’s vireos.
Let’s stop raven for a second and take a break from Sibley;
This tail begins with an egg in a nest on a branch on a tree.
O’ hatchling, the fascinating places and friends you will meet!
Some advice, keep looking afar, passed the leaves
But do not forget your roots.
First off, tell me, where is home for you?
Hopefully you are not a creeper, or kind of a loon?!
And please refrain from robin nests like your Uncle Cuckoo,
Or quail like your friends, Anna and Allen!
Life is not all about the lek and the plumage you will be wearin’.
And no matter what mood, rosy or blue, please never consider heron.
Forget about the mimids, no need to be fake though.
So swallow your pride, it’s not all about your eagle,
Because I heard you got moves like a jaegar and fly like a kite,
Thus, it is ultimately your choice of where to reside,
And these choices are vast, extending to the land, the ocean, the sky!
Indeed, his, her, my, your home is always the nest,
Where you will live the high life and roost and rest.
Los Angeles, CA
Rhyme that un-defines home.
Luis Angel Nino Barreat
Un recorrido fotográfico que ilustra parte de la vida de un colibrí verde-azul y sus adaptaciones al medio urbano.
This cat found a nest that had been blown down in a storm and made a home of it for awhile.
Here, there was once a farm
Green in gloam
Grass and loam
A white pepperbox house on a hill
Worm fences zig-zagging afore
Here, there was once a battle
Gray men in revolt
Blue men to uphold
A steady rain of blood and tears
Dress the open fields
Here, there is a landmark
Cannons in silent watch
Weeded wheels unmoved
The copper barrels drip
with cascading patina green
Here, there are bluebirds
Her back is gray
His back is blue
Their necks tawny, like dried blood
and in the green bore their quiet nest
I visited a Civil War battlesite in Virginia and looked into the barrel of a cannon and there was a bluebird nest in there.
Trabuco Canyon, CA
This hummingbird (I believe it is a female, black-chinned) decided to stop our basketball workouts for awhile. We did not mind at all as we were able to peek in on one of nature’s great events.
Mercer Island, WA
In this drawing, a bird and its nest are on a bicycle seat. It is evening, and the bicycle is leaning against a buliding.
Braydon, age 6
Colored pencil drawing of a Steller’s Jay
Ariyanna, age 9
Colored pencil drawing of the Red-shouldered Hawk
The robins started a nest on the lights beside our back porch door. This is a highly travelled area in our home, so I removed the beginnings of the nest and placed a license plate on the light resting up against the house to discourage rebuilding. Fast-forward a few days later and the determined parents had a new nest complete with eggs! We of course had to accept our new residents and use alternative routes to the porch. This little hatchling popped up when I came close to the nest determined to get his gobble first!
This Robin made 3 nests atop of this Birdhouse that already had a family (5 babies) of Carolina Chickadees in it. The first 2 nest fell off on the ground…the 3rd nest, she was finally able to successfully attach it to the top of the birdhouse. Each time a nest fell…she would laboriously get fresh nesting material..instead of using parts of the nest that fell !! A very determined Robin !!!!
Pigeons dot the peak of a church roof
and line the edge of a building’s square tower;
Motionless, patient, unheard as I pass on my bus.
I imagine the chortling coos they exchange
‘til one passes in front of my 41B.
In a graceful, free arc down the canyon of
Pittsburgh’s darkened-at-dusk street
it sails, gray.
One or two perch with pink feet
on sills of blank windows over
storefronts sporting neon or for-sale signs.
The city belongs to the pigeons at night
since people stream out to suburbs
where doves live, comfortably feasting
at seed-filled feeders put out
for “wild” birds.
A poem about the ubiquitous pigeons gracing our city streets
I was looking through a bird field guide and saw a picture of a Western Grebe and her chicks so I decided to draw a picture first with a pencil and then with colored pencils of a Western Grebe and her two chicks.
Gig Harbor, WA
Barn Swallow nestlings being fed, series of still photographs choreographed into a video.
A robin nesting on the head of a 6′ tall chainsaw bear.
Russia, Kaliningradskaya oblast, Sovetsk
The statue on top of the orphanage where we adopted our son once held a large globe that was knocked off by lightning. Storks built a nest in its place which is considered good luck. The orphanage director told us once in the 1960’s they lost the storks and several waves of flu and sickness swept through. The storks soon came back and have been there ever since. We feel very lucky for the special delivery we received from there in 2004.
St. Charles, IL
20″x 24″ mixed media on canvas.
A female American Goldfinch protects the eggs in her nest. I used a mosaic collaging technique to apply stained eggshells (after enjoying omelets and chorizo and eggs!) to the surface of the canvas to form the bird’s lower wing and the eggs. The nest and the upper wing were textured using gel medium.
More of my artwork can be seen at www.jenniferrossart.com.
This robin comes back every year even though we throw the old nest away and move the truck! She usually has at least 3 babies.
This little bird tried to nest in a miniture University of Tennessee helmet/windchime on our front porch. “Go Big Orange,” said the bird!
After a few days he decided too many Tennessee fans kept going in and out the front door of the home and he had to move on.