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Birds of Australia - species that build basket-shaped nests

Back to the main page on different types of nest .

Note that we use the term "basket" here, while the terms "cup" or "bowl" are more commonly used. We choose "basket", because the strands of which nests are made are often intricately interwoven, i.e. reminiscent of a woven basket. There are various possible overall shapes a basket nest can take. Here we show a few examples. We present nests made from mud on a separate page on mud nests. Shallow depressions in the ground, which are also commonly called "bowls", are described here.

Basket nests are the type of nest with the widest range of shapes, materials used and sizes. They range from the flimsical constructions of some dove/pigeon species, via the proto-typical stick nests of species such as the Australian Magpie, to enormous "aeries" (nests of raptors/birds of prey which, in the case of the Wedge-tailed Eagle, can weigh up to half a metric tonne. There is also a great variety of locations in which such nests can be placed or how they can be modified to suit the user's specific needs. This is our attempt to compile a representative cross-section.

We distinguish here between the following types/configurations:

Supported The weight of the nest and its contents is carried either by the branch(es) or twig(s) of a tree or shrub or simply by the ground
Suspended Basket nests can be suspended from several fixture points, in a stable yet flexible configuration
Hanging Basket nests can be part of a larger structure, e.g. a bottle-shaped construction, that is hanging from a single point of support
Floating Basket-shaped nests can also be supported by the buoyancy of water, floating on the water's surface
Dome-shaped Nests with a dome (the base of which will be basket-shaped), whichever way they are supported, offer extra protection against predators

 

Supported

Mechanically the simplest configuration of constructing a basket nest is by supporting its weight from underneath. This can happen either in a tree/shrub, either on a branch or a fork, or on the ground. Other methods of construction are described farther below.

In a tree/shrub

For reasons of stability, basket nests in trees or shrubs are usually placed in a fork - this provides a nest with at least three points of support.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Cup-shaped Restless Flycatcher basket nest in a Cypress pine tree
[, NSW, January 2016]

Peaceful Dove nest in a bottlebrush tree, supported by the branches of a four-way fork
[, NSW, January 2016]

Australian Magpie on its stick nest
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

Wedge-tailed Eagle nest in the only tree worth its name in several square kilometres
[Flinders Ranges NP, SA, March 2008]

On the ground

There are a number of ground-nesting birds that build, in protected places, basket-shaped nests (rather than using a scrape in open country).

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Grey Shrike-thrush nest on the ground, hidden in dense growth under a wattle shrub
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, September 2008]

Suspended

We distinguish here between "hanging" and "suspended" nests. The term "hanging" is used for nests that dangle from a single point of fixture; "suspended" is used to describe nests that have more than one point of support.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Example of a "suspended" basket nest - Little Friarbird
[, NSW, January 2011]

Hanging

We distinguish here between "hanging" and "suspended" nests. The term "hanging" is used for nests that dangle from a single point of fixture; "suspended" is used to describe nests that have more than one point of support.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Example of a nest "hanging" from one single point of support - the domed nest of a White-throated Gerygone
[Pilliga NR, NSW, December 2011]

Floating

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Floating nest: Australasian Grebe nest on our small farm dam when it was full for the first time in 10 years; note how this nest has a flat top - the reeds are covering eggs
[, NSW, December 2011]

Dome-shaped nest

Domed nests provide the occupants with additional protection against predators and are therefore a popular design, especially amongst small bird species.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Look into a domed Double-barred Finch nest with three chicks (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Maules Creek, NSW, September 2011]