Early bird nests: where and how are they built?

Blue tit looking out from a tree hole
Birds make nests in lots of different places (Photo: Amy Lewis/WTML)

At this time of year, some birds are already starting to think about building their nests, ready to lay their eggs and raise their chicks in the spring. Here are a few early nesters to look out for – you may spot them flitting around your garden or the woods with bits of nesting material in their beaks. If you have a nest box in your garden, keep your eyes peeled for birds like blue tits checking them out!

Robin nests

Robin looking out of its nest in a watering can
Robins often build nests in odd places! (Photo: WTML)

Robins can start nesting as early as January, although it’s usually a month or so later.

Their cup-shaped nests are built by the females from leaves and moss, and lined with hair. They like to build in hidey-holes in climbing plants, tree roots, hedges and piles of logs, although they sometimes build their nests in more unusual places – they’ve been found in hanging baskets, coat pockets, and even underneath car bonnets!

Want to know what to feed the robins in your garden? Find out what they eat!

Wren nests

Wren looking out from a crack in a wall
Wrens sometimes nest in holes in walls (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

Wrens are a bit different as it’s the male that does a lot of the work.

Around March, he starts building up to twelve basic nests in trees, bushes and holes in walls to show off his skills. He then sings loudly to invite some lady wrens round for a viewing.

If a female bird thinks one looks like a des res, she moves in starts putting the finishing touches by lining it with feathers.

Blue tit nests

Blue tit collecting hair
Blue tits use things like wool in their nests (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

Female blue tits also tend to build their nests in March, although it’s not unknown for them to start much earlier, especially in the South West of the country.

They build nests of leaves, moss, wool and spiders’ webs in holes in trees and walls, as well as in nest boxes, although they sometimes nest in more unusual places, such as letter boxes.

Have you spotted blue tits nesting in strange places? Tell us in the comments below!

Blackbird nests

Female blackbird
Female blackbirds build their own nests (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

Female blackbirds are on nest-building duty too but they usually wait until early March to get started.

Their rather messy nests are made of grass, twigs and straw stuck together with mud.

They like to nest in bushes and hedges, although they’ve been known to build their nests on shelves in garden sheds.

Long-tailed tit nests

Long-tailed tit in its nest
Long-tailed tit can take weeks to build their nests (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

It can take three weeks for these little birds to create their intricate homes so they need to get started early!

The male and female work together to weave a dome-shaped nest out of little pieces of moss and lichen stuck together with cobwebs. They leave an entrance hole at the top.

The nest, which sits in a bush or the fork of a tree, is extra-cosy as it’s lined with up to 2,000 feathers – the birds can fly a total of 600 miles collecting them all!

You can read about other early nesters on our blog.

How to help nesting birds

Birds have to do an awful lot of flying around to collect all the nesting materials they need – it must be exhausting! Give them a helping hand by putting out things that they might use, such as pet fur, hair from your brush, and pieces of wool or string – cut them to lengths of around 5cm though so the birds don’t get tangled up.

And why not put up a nest box to encourage feathered garden visitors to stay a while? We’ve got a super one available in our shop for just £19.99!

Which early birds have you spotted?

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