Nest building, the forgotten behaviour

Lauren Mary Guillette, Susan Denise Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In the last decade tool manufacture in birds has transformed
the landscape of animal cognition. As tool manufacture,
however, is rare and practised by species that are not
commonplace it is not a particularly useful model for
investigating the evolution of physical cognition. On the basis of
recent evidence, we argue that nest building, which bears
considerable phenotypic resemblance to tool making, is more
useful for examining not only the role that cognition may play in
construction behaviours, but also the neural underpinning of
those behaviours and, ultimately their evolution. We
substantiate our view with recent evidence that building by
birds involves changes in dexterity, is experience-dependent
and involves activity in, at least, motor, reward and social
network brain regions as well as in the cerebellum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-96
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Early online date1 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Animal cognition
  • Building
  • Construction
  • Nests
  • Physical cognition
  • Tool making


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