Nest construction behaviour: Nests, Eggs, and Incubation

S.D. Healy, K.V. Morgan, I.E. Bailey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There is quite a lot of evidence demonstrating that birds will choose the location in which they build their nest and they will even modify nest location choice based on decisions made by conspecifics or heterospecifics. We know considerably less, however, about whether birds learn which materials with which to build or how to manipulate that material into an appropriate structure. This seems surprising, given how important the nest is to most birds’ reproductive success. There is some evidence that birds will learn about materials during their early development and, recently, that they will change their material choice in response to the reproductive outcomes of those choices. This experience-dependence is at odds with the still-predominant view that nest building is genetic. The most likely explanation for this view, however, is that we have so few data, observational or experimental, concerning nest-building decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNests, Eggs, and Incubation
Subtitle of host publicationNew ideas about avian reproduction
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198718666
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • experience
  • habitat choice
  • material choice
  • nest-building behaviour
  • nest composition
  • nest structure


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