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Build A Bird Nest

Goal: Students will learn about bird nests by building their own nests.

Grade Levels: Pre-K–6th grade

Time: 30 minutes

Audience: Up to 20


  1. Students will describe why birds build nests.
  2. Students will describe what materials birds sometimes use to make nests.


  • One brown paper lunch bag per student
  • Assorted sticks, leaves, etc.
  • A real bird nest or photos of bird nests
  • Craft clue
  • Optional: craft feathers, craft eggs, craft birds, jellybeans, Jordan almonds

At a very young age, many of us may have believed that bird nests were bird houses, but nests are more like bird nurseries. They exist only to protect eggs and raise chicks. Bird nests can have very different characteristics. For example, hummingbirds build tiny nests from spider webs and lichen. Turkey vultures don’t build a nest at all—they just lay the egg on a cliff. Chickadees and woodpeckers drill a hole in a tree to hide eggs. Orioles weave bag-shaped nests from grasses, and chimney swifts make their nests out of saliva. Today, we’re going to make our own bird nests. Most nests we are familiar with are cup-shaped nests. These types of nests are made by birds like robins and cardinals. The outside is hard and provides structure. The inside has fluffy, soft material to cushion eggs and chicks.


  1. Give each student a brown paper bag.
  2. Fold the edges of the bag down (as if you were rolling up a shirt sleeve) until the bag is bowl-shaped.
  3. After each student has their basic nest shape, offer craft glue and an assortment of twigs, dried leaves, craft feathers and mosses to furnish the nest.
  4. Encourage students to finish their nests by adhering natural materials to the inside and around the bag.
  5. When finished, you may use candy eggs or craft birds to put in their nests.

Most songbirds build a fresh nest each season to avoid build-up of mites or parasites, and it may only be a few feet from the previous year’s nest. Most songbirds get a new mate each season as well. You can make life easier for birds in several ways:

  • Wait until fall to remove nests from your property. The parents may lay more eggs that season.
  • If you find a chick fallen from the nest, put the chick back if you can do so safely. The parents cannot smell humans on their baby. If you cannot reach the nest, make a fake nest out of a milk carton and put him/her inside. Hang it near the original nest. The mother and father will continue to feed the chick. Only bring the chick to a wildlife rehabilitator if the chick is injured.
  • If possible, wait until late summer or fall to trim or cut down bothersome trees. In the spring, birds and squirrels could be nesting there and you may not know it.
  • Keep your cat indoors. Domestic cats are major predators of adult and juvenile birds. Both your cat and birds will live longer when your cat is indoors.
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