BY Donna Parham
ILLUSTRATIONS BY AMY BLANDFORD
HIGH AND DRY
A flamingo’s single, chalky white egg hatches atop a pile of mud. Both male and female construct the tall nest, heaping and packing soft mud into a volcano-shaped mound. The high nest protects the precious egg from changes in water level.
A floating mass of aquatic plants provides the perfect platform for a pair of red-necked grebes. Anchored to nearby vegetation, the nest is situated to protect eggs and chicks from mammalian predators.
For the semipalmated plover, the best nest is little more than a shallow depression in sand, among rocks, or in sparse vegetation. A female lays three or four mottled eggs that are pointed at one end. This pyriform shape keeps the eggs from rolling away.
Using strips of palm, rice plants, or grass, a male baya weaver knits together a hanging nest with an entrance tunnel.
SOFT AND STRETCHY
With spider webs, a female hummingbird binds together twigs, moss, soft plant fibers, and bits of leaves and lichens. The tiny, cup-shaped nest is soft and spongy, stretching and expanding as chicks grow.
In some places, burrowing owls dig their own burrows,
but they more commonly settle into a burrow abandoned by a ground squirrel or other rodent, badger, skunk, armadillo, or tortoise. The female owl stays underground with her eggs and chicks, while the male hunts and feeds the family.
COOL AND DRY
A monogamous pair of Gila woodpeckers work together to excavate a nest cavity in a dry cactus or palm. The pair reuse the same nest for several years.
A sociable weaver nest is a busy place as year-round shelter and warmth for up to 200 birds, with separate entrances and chambers for each family unit.
Ovenbirds build a sturdy, enclosed nest of mud mixed with plant matter.