Many thanks to everyone who participated in Funky Nests in Funky Places 2014! We’ve enjoyed receiving your awesome 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! Your entries were fantastic!
Below you will find the Recognized Entries. Enjoy!
Prizes include Celestron binoculars, Pennington bird feeders, Inside Birding DVDs, Diversity of Sound CDs, posters, and much more.
Bird Center of Washtenaw County
Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Of all the places in a beautiful university town, this crazy little chickadee decided to make a stinky old athletic shoe its home. Even more ironic, these shoes are hanging right in front of the Bird Center of Washtenaw County, a non-profit wild bird rehabilitation center. This was posted on our Facebook page and has been a great source of amusement to all.
Photo by Jim Jurewicz
Submitted by Melissa Schroeder
Fort Eustis, Newport News, VA, United States
Black cormorant nest on an anchor chain in the James River Reserve Fleet, mid river between Ft Eustis and Surry VA.
Bridgeport, CT, United States
While walking along the shore, I happened to look up at the street lights lining the walk way and wouldn’t you know it – about 90% of them were being used by house sparrows for nesting! Talk about urban housing for an urban bird!
Baytown, TX, United States
While doing an MBTA survey discovered this nest in a dump truck. The bird (Mourning dove) was in the nest when I approached the truck but flew out before I could take the photo.
Littleton, CO, United States
I had a pair of great horned owls hanging around my yard for several years, but they never seemed to nest and raise young. So, knowing that great horned owls do not build their own nests, I decided that, since there didn’t seem to be any appropriate places for them to nest in my yard, I would help them out by building one for them. I bought a laundry basket that seemed like it would be a good size for them, painted it a dark brown color so it would blend in with the trees well, and climbed 25 feet up a spruce tree where they often hung around, and tied and wired it into place solidly. Then I climbed back up again with a bag of leaves and sticks which I used to fill the basket. I didn’t get this done until January 24th, though, and by that time the owls seemed to have gone elsewhere. But on a day late in February, they were back, and I knew they were back, because they spent the whole day calling back and forth, even in broad daylight! A neighbor even called to ask what all the owl noises were in my yard. I think they were celebrating coming back home and finding that the perfect nest had been built for them! A couple of days later it became clear that they had chosen to move into their laundry basket nest, and the female started spending a lot of time there. I often saw them hunting in the yard, and heard them calling back and forth. A few days after my last photo was taken, the young fledged from the basket and started branch hopping from there, and the parents followed them around and fed them. It was a most rewarding experience to find that they accepted my nest basket offering and managed to raise two baby owls there.
San Diego, CA, United States
This Anna’s hummingbird created her nest in the crook of a funky antique chandelier on my patio deck. So tiny, and precariously-perched, it was a marvel of rock-solid construction. Seated firmly within it, she looked as if she was riding her own private carousel. Over the next few weeks I watched her two babies hatch and grow, delighting in their daily feeding cycle. One fledged and flew off; the other—a runt— unfortunately did not survive.
Seattle, WA, United States
At Chihuly Gardens outdoor art glass exhibit.
Atlanta, GA, United States
This wren nest hung in a basket outside of a window on the back porch. I was able to secret a camera by the window and set it on record (all the while being careful not to disturb the babies or scare away the mother). The birds fledged quite successfully a few days after this video was made. By the time the wren babies fledged, the mother had grown very comfortable with having people nearby. In fact, she had probably been comfortable with it from the beginning, since she built the nest there despite us frequently reading and eating in chairs close by. It was always fun to see her dutifully bringing back large insects for her shrieking young. (The conversation in the background is speculation whether the camera is getting a decent picture.)
Avon Lake, OH, United States
Our black-capped chickadee birdfeeder was visited by a pair of chickadees. They removed all the seed, brought in the nesting material, and raised 4 chicks in a place that most resembled their species. How cute is that?!
Petersburg, IN, United States
Carolina wren (I think possibly a sparrow) nest inside the shed inside the spare motorcycle helmet
Cortez, CO, United States
Growing, Hungry, Insistent Juveniles,
Katydids, Lacewings, Mosquitoes Needed Often,
Pleasantly Quiet, Restful Slumber,
Tomorrow Up, Vivacious Wren!
California, United States
I wrote an abecedarian poem about a day in the life of a Wren family that nested in a birdhouse just outside my kitchen window. Not only were they entertaining me while doing the dreaded dishes, it also provided an opportunity to learn about these feisty little birds. Hope you enjoy my poem.
Pasadena, CA, United States
Doves building a nest inside a garage.This requires them to fly through the door and into the back of the garage over tool benches, cabinets, and past my dogs who are guarding the door.
Why doesn’t the species tag work? It keeps giving me an error message using a pasted copy of your web page?
Revelstoke, BC, Canada
This nest is not in a funky place BUT it is most definitely funky! I study yellow warblers in Revelstoke, BC, for Simon Fraser University and recently found this nest. This female YWAR used pink (and some green) feathers from a boa to line her nest and it looks like she found some pink flagging tape to use as well!
Rio Rancho, NM, United States
A pair of Great-Horned Owls have a nest under the roof of a local school on top of the anti-bird spikes installed there. They have been there for at least 3 years.
Charlotte, NC, United States
Santa Fe, NM, United States
This bushtit nest, 35-40 feet up in a cottonwood tree, was constructed of shredded plastic. Warm, durable…and permanent! Who knew bushtits recycled plastic bags?
Fantails (Piwakawaka) enojoying the warmth of someone’s lost woolly cap (toque)!
you know me; I fly away
when you come out every day
to the car, with all your keys
I don't like you coming close
to my corner of the house
Makes me nervous. I take off
Fly to the persimmon tree.
Till you drive off down the street
I can't rest my hungry beak
take a nap or sip my sap
so i do my sucker rap.
Williamsburg, VA, United States
We hosted Sally the Sapsucker in the holly tree at the corner of our house…..until she disappeared shortly after my husband saw a hawk fly right into that tree. Sigh. We miss Sally.
Brockport, NY, United States
Nest on top of flood lights on garden shed.
The portal into life.
The cradle of a new bird's world.
Helping it bloom like the roses around it.
Securing fragile nestlings until the sky beckons.
Calling the young one's to take flight.
Fairfield, CT, United States
This poem was a collaborative effort with my son Aaron, age 10.
Tweeted across the playground.
Suddenly, tiny feet flocked to the abandoned plastic castle.
In a hole two brilliantly blue speckled eggs found a haven, a home.
Tucked away, close enough for us to see.
But, far enough to protect them from our clumsy touch.
South Carolina, United States
Austin, TX, United States
My neighbor and I were in the front yard hanging out with our kids when we noticed the baby birds were peeking out from the top of their birdhouse. My daughter was 7 years old when she received this birdhouse as a gift and lovingly painted it before I helped her hang it in the tree. We watched all 3 of the baby wrens leave their nest and learn to fly around the yard.
There were so many nests and birds on this nurseries’ sign, they seemed right at home.
Pensthorpe Wildlife Park
An autumn mist in tendrils floated,o'er the meadow's darkened hedge
A pheasant with a plumage rich, was hovering 'neath its shaded edge
I put my glasses on in haste, lest this chance should disappear
And just in time, the bird did dance, without the slightest trace of fear
It was the same throughout the park,the cheeky squirrel, bushy tailed
Kept darting through his leafy tunnel,contained, but far from being jailed
The swans were handsome and majestic even cygnets fluffed and grey
And multitudes of birds with freedom, flew along their merry way
A place where wildlife's natural beauty, captivates one by its charm
And shows us how its residents ,can blossom here away from harm
The kindest person brought me here, it was a day I will recall
Of God's Creation Undefiled, and peace lies ever over all.
Norfolk, United Kingdom
It is a poem of observing the wildlife in this park, on an autumn visit with my friend, I saw the animals in their almost natural habitat, and it was a most uplifting and humbling experience.
I felt the richer for it !
Adams, NY, United States
A large abandoned tractor tire, some hay and a comfy nest. Perfect shelter for a feathered family.
DuPage County, IL, United States
This Canada Goose built her nest on an 8th floor balcony out of the condo-owner’s fake flowers. Definitely a fashionable girl!
1. It was a clear and sunny beauteous spring day in the Sonoran Desert. Facing the Catalina Mountains, I watered the plants in the garden. When I thought the weekend could not get any better, a sudden buzzing sound demanded my attention. A tiny hummingbird buzzed her little wings in front of my face and flew away. I looked up. The marvelous engineer had built a nest anchored on a flat single spike of iron, a thread of metal hair on the head of the dancing amazon wind chime hanging in front of the front door. Immediately, I brought a hummingbird feeder and weeks later we had developed a bond. She did not feel the need to fly away as I water the plants. Miraculously, she left me photograph her whereabouts.
2. Too soon, an ethnography of urban nesting emerged. An earthy amazon wearing a glamorously designed hummingbird nest on her crown chakra, danced, danced and danced in the wind. Magic at its best! Who is the earthy Amazon wearing a hummingbird nest hat, head chakra in tune with the marvels of life? Two tiny eggs the size of jellybeans found a home in the nest. One baby hatched. A little breathing creature with pointy spikes emerged from the shell. The second baby did not make it and promptly the mother threw the egg off.
3. A beauteous morning I woke up and checked on the hummingbirds. Ms. Hummingbird stood on the rim of the nest, tiny claws holding tight, hovering her wings at high speed, showing Junior a new trick. Junior watched attentive. After few seconds, she began to hover mimicking her mom. Precious little wings covered with porcupine-like spikes hovered at high speed until Junior rose in the air. “I can do it, mom.” I heard a voice in the back of my mind. It made my whole body smile.
4. I could feel the vibrations of discovery emitted by little wings and the incessant joyful chirps. She softly embraced her young with both wings preventing a fall. Promptly, Junior tired up and returned to deep sleep. Ms. Hummingbird sat proud on top of her child and gently preened the miniature featherlike blooms beginning to sprout at the tip of each spike.
5. Today, Junior lost her balance while flapping her wings and fell off the nest. Maneuvering a first fly, she landed safely on a cactus. Mom got all agitated trying to get her back to the nest. "Junior!!!" I could hear her swear. I picked her gently and placed her back. Ms. Hummingbird promptly sat on top of her precocious child. “Mom, I can fly!”
6. Magic and Oracle, my two black Siamese cats stood at my feet at the other side of the glass mesmerized. Only a matter of days! We all thought. Only a matter of days! Ah the miracle of life. The gifts of nature seep in filling the heart with charming delights when we dare to pause. One breath at a time, the precious moment is all I have. And such exercise contributes more to world peace than any meaningless fight.
Copyright 2014 by Mariel Masque
Oro Valley, AZ, United States
What brings joy to my life.
Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
We watched these Anna’s hummingbirds hatch and grow. The mother reused the nest after they fledged, taking it apart bit by bit and flying to a new location.
Deltona, FL, United States
I was so happy to see the Cardinals building a nest outside of my sliding door. Smart birdies building it under a covered porch. My inside cats were loving the show.
Lebanon, CT, United States
Papa takes care of mama while she takes care of the babies
Sarasota, FL, United States
There was a barred owl nest in my neighbors yard and I was lucky enough to be able to photograph the parents and nestlings. This was one of the first times the chick came out of the nest. He did not look too happy about it either!
It’s hard to see, but these house sparrows made their nest in the back of the throat of this dinosaur at the mini golf course by Niagara Falls!
Windsor, ON, Canada
Three baby robins on the windowsill on the second floor of our house, outside my youngest son’s room.
Bracebridge, ON, Canada
An American Robin built a nest on my Grandmother’s light on her front porch. I thought it was rather picturesque and drew it.
Naperville, IL, United States
Janesville, WI, United States
Mary Kate Wilcox
Overland Park, KS, United States
Sigurd, Utah, United States
We found this nest in a house that no one was living in at the time.
Sarasota, Florida, United States
I noticed a Carolina wren around my house and followed it to its nest next door to me on my neighbor’s patio. When the chicks hatched they bounced around my patio for a few hours with Mom keeping watch, then they were gone for good.
Vacaville, CA, United States
This hummingbird decided to set up a nest in a wind-chime about five feet from my parents’ front door. I happened to be home on vacation just in time to catch the “before” pics, but had to leave before the eggs hatched. My mother made sure to inform me that they all hatched fine and flew off a few weeks after these were taken!
Davis, CA, United States
Staying warm through the cold California winter (Anna’s hummingbird). Anna hung on through rain, frozen temperatures and high winds and hatched out two eggs.
When I look beyond the woods,
I see the Robin's nest.
Many little twigs intertwined
weaving the nest together.
I see that Robin,
swooping in to feed its young.
The Robin's nest is small,
it's shaped like a bowl.
It's home sweet home to the Robin.
Winnetka, IL, United States
This submission was done by Madeline Sheedy Age 10. She loves birds as well as poetry and was thrilled that you accepted poetry as a submission. We live in a suburban area of Chicago and have created a backyard for birds (running water, food, flowers, shelter).
Jim Roden Jr
Winter Haven, FL, United States
My wife and I didn’t notice this nest while it was under construction but as soon as it was finished we became all to aware of our new house guest. Our first clue was the bird droppings and smeared glass all around the side view mirrors on our cars. The second clue was the alerts that the birds would call out from nearby trees and bushes whenever we came and went through the garage. Finally, after seeing the female frequently hanging around the driveway and garage opening, I started looking for a nest. There is was on the top of the garage door opener itself.
The funny part about the female messing on the side view mirrors was at first I kept cleaning the cars and she kept messing them up again. I first draped hand towels over the mirrors but she would pull them off and go to pecking and messing all over again. She just couldn’t get rid of that intruder she was looking at. I finally used spring clamps to keep the towels in place and that solved the problem.
In case anyone is wondering, to accomodate the new family we leave the garage door open during the day and if we must leave the house we leave the garage door cracked open about a half a foot.
I’ve put this submission in the “most inconvenient” category for two reasons; for us we had to deal with the messy mirrors and droppings under the opener but for the poor bird(s) – the vibration that occurred every time that garage door went up or down for the eggs, then chicks and momma bird had to be a shock. I doubt she comes back to that spot next year!
Phoenix, Ariz, United States
The National Cemetery decorates the graves with flags every Memorial Day. This mother bird is adding her own.
Flower Mound, TX, United States
This is the first year we have had wrens nest in an empty candle lantern. I suspect they will come back every year now. I tried to keep an eye on them without disturbing them too much so the pictures are not exactly National Geographic quality, but the story has a happy ending with three fledglings leaving the nest, which makes me glad!
By Rebecca Strecker
Walter was a hunter.
In fact he was the best.
So good in fact that in his yard
no bird would build its nest.
Two years ago old Walter
left for 'Rainbow Bridge' on high.
If you squint you'll almost see him
lounging up there in the sky.
Fred became the garden cat,
but he wasn't very good.
A hummingbird saw little Fred
and she understood.
“I'll build my nest in Walter's yard.
It's not off limits now.”
And she scouted till she noticed
a geranium ivy bough.
“A perfect place to build my nest!
Forgotten and quite dry.
Protected from the rain and sun,
with food in large supply.”
And so the tiny hummingbird
set out to do her job.
And unseen by Fred or me
worked diligent and hard.
First Things First
Once the hummingbird decided
on the perfect nesting spot
she needed extra energy
and so she ate a lot.
She feasted on the nectar
in the pretty trumpet vines.
And then she searched for mosses
that hung on nearby pines.
Tiny sticks and bits of willow.
Dryer lint and small leaf hairs.
She glued them up with spider webs
taking the best of care.
The dark side in the shadows,
the light side towards the sun.
And after many, many trips
her tiny nest was done.
A week of work and all the while
inside her body grew
the tiny eggs that she would lay
once heavy work was through.
In a nest small as a walnut shell,
and fluffy soft inside
The hummingbird laid two small eggs
and cared for them with pride.
The eggs were not identical.
One was smaller than the other.
Perhaps one was the sister bird,
the other one, its brother.
The hummingbird sat gently down
atop the pearly eggs.
Her underbelly warming them
as they rested near her legs.
She sat so still as in a trance
and only left to eat.
Then returned to her nest and sat
in silence, most discreet.
The breezes blew the bough around.
An earthquake made it shake.
But Momma Hummingbird sat still
protecting through the quake.
And so it went for several weeks
until two small eggs hatched:
Two living feathers wriggled out
a miracle unmatched.
Two Baby Birds
The mother bird sat in her nest
keeping the two chicks warm
and bravely took the beating
from an unexpected storm.
She left the nest only to feed
upon the trumpet vines.
Which climbed the wall creating
While baby birds crouched in their nest
in silence and transfixed,
the Mother Hummingbird returned
with nectar for her chicks
Even before their eyes could see
the baby birds could feel
when Mother Bird carefully lit down
to feed her chicks a meal.
So Mother Hummingbird began
a month of fledgling feeding,
providing all the nourishment
her growing chicks were needing.
The Trumpet Vines
The trumpet vines were sunset bright
and cast a golden glow.
Our yard was chosen for her nest
for Mother saw the trumpets grow.
She reached the vines and dipped her beak
down in the flower's cup
and like a straw she sipped the drink
of sweet warm nectar up.
She had to hurry on her way.
She needed to return.
Providing food for baby birds
was Mother Bird's concern.
But for this fleeting moment
she at least enjoyed the taste,
before her duty called her back
to peeping chicks post haste.
The baby hummingbirds grew large.
Their feathers replaced fuzz.
They each stood up upon the nest
flapping wings until they buzzed.
Their iridescent wings shined green,
and lavender and gold.
Preparing for their maiden flight
was a rare sight to behold.
They ventured but an inch or two
beyond their little nest.
To ivy leaves and branches
in a hummingbird contest.
“I can go further out than you!”
“Look how my wings can lift!”
And flight seemed to come naturally.
A miracle. A gift.
They knew that they were ready
to leave the nest for good.
Mother fed them one last meal,
and then she understood.
Mother darted back and forth.
Her babies felt the breeze
And up and up the young birds flew
high above the trees.
Once Mother Hummingbird agreed
that they had passed the test.
They all flew off together
leaving the little nest.
An emptiness engulfed the yard
once the hummingbirds had gone.
I said “I guess they're far away.”
Fred sighed and then he yawned.
He sat looking out the window,
towards the golden trumpet vines.
He hoped to see our hummingbirds
feeding where they intertwined.
I searched the sky and listened
to hear the whirring wings.
But the sky was still and empty.
I did not hear anything.
A week went by, and Fred and I
did not feel offended.
We simply thought it was the way
with birds we had befriended.
Then glancing through the window
as we dined at twilight time,
I saw a hummingbird dart by
and light upon the vine.
And then two smaller hummingbirds
followed in her wake.
Our family of hummingbirds!
Yes, there was no mistake.
They soared above their little nest
as if to say “Hello”.
And eager Freddie noticed
as they flew to and fro.
We hoped we'd see them yet again.
But in our hearts we knew
that home for them was not our yard.
Home was anywhere they flew.
Westminster, CA, United States
This is a true story of a hummingbird that built its nest in our backyard. Walter was our garden cat and Fred took Walter’s job after Walter died. Unlike Walter, Freddie was not a hunter, and so Momma Hummingbird felt perfectly safe building her nest in the garden. As a side-note, three separate hummingbird families used the same nest with minor renovation each year. This is the story of the first family of hummingbirds.
MA CARMEN ROSALES CARDENAS
Ciudad de México, México
HOY AMANECIO ESTA COQUITA EN UNA MACETA EN MI PATIO. TOM LA DESCUBRIO CUANDO LA IBA A REGAR.
ENCONTREN ESTE SITIO INVESTIGANDO A CERCA DE COMO PODEMOS AYUDARLA Y QUISE COMPARTIRLO CON USTEDES.
ESPERO QUE NO SE ESTRESE DEMASIADO CON NUESTRO IR Y VENIR Y LOS LADRIDOS DE NUESTROS PERROS Y PUEDA LLEGAR ESE NIDITO A BUEN TERMINO.
SOLO QUE TAL VEZ MI PLANTA SE SEQUE PUES NO ES POSIBLE REGARLA CON EL NIDITO ADENTRO.
Cheboygan, MI, United States
This robins nest was built under a lean-to next to our shed, wedged between the gas cans. The baby robin single picture was taken three days later. Amazing how fast they grow.