Gallery of Wild Bird Nests and Eggs

Vermilion Flycatcher Nest
Photo © Clinton & Charles Robertson/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0
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    House Finch Nest

    House Finch Nest
    Photo © Bill Padgett/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

    Just as there are many variations among birds’ plumage, sizes and behavior, so too are there many different types of nests. Different bird species use different building materials to create nests of various shapes and sizes, and the eggs they lay have different shapes, markings, colors and sizes. Experienced birders can learn to identify bird species by nest type or eggs, and birders of all levels can enjoy the wonder of spotting a bird nest in the wild.

    The house finch is one of the most common...MORE backyard birds and can be found in nearly any habitat, and their nests show just as much adaptability. The cup-shaped house finch nest is constructed from twigs, grasses and leaves and can be found in any suitable location, including trees, shrubs, cacti, on the ground, under house eaves and in nesting boxes. House finch eggs are .75-.8 inches long with a very pale blue color and small, infrequent spots that are typically concentrated on the larger end of the egg.

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    Vermilion Flycatcher Nest

    Vermilion Flycatcher Nest
    Photo © Clinton & Charles Robertson/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

    The eye-catching vermilion flycatcher is a favorite among birders because of its brilliant plumage, and its nests and eggs are just as lovely. The cup-shaped nest is sturdily constructed of sticks, grass, rootlets and similar materials, and it is often decorated with bits of moss or lichen that help serve as camouflage. The eggs are approximately .75 inches long and are a creamy white with bold, thick blotches of lavender, brown or gray.

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    American Robin Nest

    American Robin Nest
    Photo © Mark/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    American robin eggs are among the easiest to recognize with their pale or medium blue color without markings. On occasion, robin eggs, which are just over 1 inch long, can also be white or lightly speckled. An American robin’s deep cup nest is constructed of grass and mud and lined with finer grass, and the nest is constructed in the crook of a tree, on a nesting shelf or in any sheltered location.

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    Northern Mockingbird Nest

    Northern Mockingbird Nest
    Photo © Donald Hines/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    A northern mockingbird’s nest uses an array of unusual materials, including sticks, stems, bits of fabric and string, and the birds prefer to build deep cup nests between 3-10 feet off the ground. The eggs of a northern mockingbird are just 1 inch long with a bluish-green color and dark brown speckles or splotches.

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  • 05 of 12

    Anna's Hummingbird Nest

    Anna's Hummingbird Nest
    Photo © Travis Rigel Lukas Hornung/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    All hummingbird nests are sturdily built, and the Anna’s hummingbird uses plant down, spider silk and similar fine materials to construct its cup-shaped nest. These nests are often balanced in precarious locations such as on thin branches or twigs, on a cliff ledge or even astride a wire. The nest is then lined with feathers and to gently cradle the .5 inch long white, symmetrically oval eggs.

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    Mute Swan Nest

    Mute Swan Nest
    Photo © Mike Scott/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

    Male and female mute swans work together to build a flattish, mound-shaped nest of assorted plant materials sparsely lined with feathers and down. Nests are often build on isolated islands, along shorelines and near sources of water while still being concealed and isolated from both humans and predators. The eggs are 4.5 inches long and a light gray or blue color, though they may have brown or gray stains from marsh material.

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    Rock Pigeon Nest

    Rock Pigeon Nest
    Photo © Simon Law/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

    Just as rock pigeons are amazingly adaptable to urban habitats, so are their nesting preferences. Pigeons will build a loose platform of sticks, leaves, weeds and grass in nearly any sheltered location, including gutters, building ledges, windowsills, abandoned boxes and planters. Pigeons generally lay two white, unmarked eggs that measure 1.5 inches long. Unlike many birds, rock pigeons may breed at any time of year so long as there are sufficient resources for them to raise their young.

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    Killdeer Nest

    Killdeer Nest
    Photo © Courtney Celley/USFWS/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    A killdeer’s nest may at first seem to be no nest at all, since they can be simple depressions lined with pebbles, twigs or no type of lining. Because killdeers lay their eggs in open ground, their nests are highly vulnerable to predators. Parent birds will often mimic injuries in order to draw predators away from a nearby nest with its light colored eggs with black and brown splotches. Eggs are usually 1.5 inches long and somewhat pointed so they do not roll easily.

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    Herring Gull Nest

    Herring Gull Nest
    Photo © John Haslam/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    The herring gull prefers to lay eggs in sheltered ground or roof locations with minimal nest construction, though parent birds will line the nest site with weeds, grass or seaweed. The eggs can vary from a gray or brown hue to a faint blue or green, and they are marked with brown, lavender or black streaks and spots. Gull eggs are larger and because they aren't in a deep nest, they are slightly pointed to minimize rolling.

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    Mallard Nest

    Mallard Nest
    Photo © Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

    Because mallards are the most widespread duck in North America, they have learned to build nests nearly anywhere, including beneath shrubs, tucked into thickets or even in planters and flowerbeds. Preferred locations are moderately concealed and each nest is a shallow depression lined with assorted plant material, down and feathers. The eggs are a buff, cream or grayish color and measure 2.3 inches long.

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    Black-Capped Chickadee Nest

    Black-Capped Chickadee Nest
    Photo © OakleyOriginals/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Black-capped chickadees are prolific nesters and have large broods. They are cavity-nesting birds and will use bird houses as well as snags and other natural nesting holes, including reusing woodpecker nesting sites. The nests are lined with moss, feathers and animal fur. The oval-shaped eggs are marked with brownish speckling.

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    European Nightjar Nest

    European Nightjar Nest
    Photo © NottsExMiner/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

    All species of nightjars, including European nightjars, nest on the ground or any level, open surface, including flat rooftops. They use very little nesting material and often the eggs are simply out in the open or in a very shallow depression dug into dirt or gravel. The oval-shaped eggs are pale whitish with brown and gray splotchy markings.