How Long Does it Take a Bird to Build a Nest?

We all know that birds are extremely skilled engineers when it comes to building nests. However, sometimes one might think about how long does it take a bird to build a nest.

Normally it takes from 2 days to two weeks for a bird to build its nest. Sometimes it may take longer than that because of various factors such as site selection, material gathering, and weather, etc.

That said, there are a few more things to learn. Bird nest creation is not less than human building design. In fact, it can be way more complicated than humans because of different factors.

In this article, we will talk about how long does it take a bird to build a nest. Along with that, we will also learn about the factor that may slow down or speed up the process.

If you are interested to learn all about nest building time for the birds then keep on reading.

How Long Does it Take Different Birds to Build a Nest?

How Long Does it Take a Bird to Build a Nest

As I mentioned earlier, it takes somewhere from two days to two weeks depending on various factors. 

However, during my study of birds and nest building process, I learned some interesting facts.

Different birds build their nest in different time frames. For your information, I have listed some birds along with their nest creation time below.

Different Birds and Their Nest Building Time (Average)

Bird Specie Nest Building Duration
Sparrow2 days
American Goldfinch5 days
European Robin1 week.
Eastern Bluebird3 days.
European Starling14 days.
Barn Swallow21 days
House WrenAbout a week.

I hope the list was helpful for you. Now let’s talk about how these birds create their nests in different time frames.

How Do Different Birds Build A Nest?

Different birds have different techniques when it comes to building their nests. However, the main thing that they need at first is material for creating their homes.

Once they get the necessary materials, then it becomes easier for them to create nests. Materials are very important because, without them, there won’t be any nest building process in progress.

Now if we talk about how long it takes to build a nest then let me tell you that the time totally depends on the method that these birds are using.

For example, barn swallows use both mud and straws for building their nest while Bluebird doesn’t use mud at all.

Now let’s talk about the material gathering.

Materials Used in Nest Building by Different Birds

A male bird building its nest

Different birds use different materials for building their nests. Some of those materials are listed below:

  • Straws
  • twigs
  • leaves
  • grass
  • fur
  • rootlets
  • feathers
  • mosses
  • plant materials, etc.

By the way, some birds don’t use any material for their nests. That said it is possible to find nests with no material at all which are called “scrape nests”. Most of the time these nests are created by ground-nesting birds like

Weather Factors Affecting Time it Takes To Build A Nest

As you all know, the weather is one of the most important factors that affect everything around us. That said, the same holds true when it comes to the bird nest-building process.

Different kinds of weather affect different kinds of birds in different ways depending on their behavior. Now let’s talk about the effects of weather on how long it takes for a bird to build its nest.

For example, the Cardinals normally take more time to build nests during the winter months because they are unable to find the proper material for building nests at that time.

On the other hand, in the summer months, Cardinals take less time to build their nest because they can easily find proper material to use for creating nests. That’s why you can see many birds build nests during the spring and summer seasons.

Barn Swallows also speed up their nest creation process when it comes to the summer months.  They do that by building their nests quickly and efficiently without wasting time.

Now let’s talk about how the changing seasons affect different birds in different ways when it comes to building nests.

Nest Building in Summer and Winter

One of the most important things mentioned above is that birds usually build nests during the summer and spring seasons. However, this doesn’t hold true for all types of birds.

There are few species like House Sparrow and European Robins which start building their nests in early winter and may even continue to do so in mid-winter.

However, there are also species like Tree Swallows which normally start nest building in the late winter months after the arrival of spring.

As for our topic of how long it takes to build a bird nest, you can find nests being built during summer by some birds while others take their time during that period to gather material for nest construction.

However, birds like Bluebird and Tree Swallows can build their nests quickly in the summer months. This is because these types of birds gather material for building their nests during spring by picking grasses, straws, etc., from the ground.

A sparrow gathering material for building its nest

That said it is possible to find different species of birds which take more time to start nest construction during the winter months. That’s because they can’t find material that easily at that time for building nests.

That said, the changing weather also affects the bird’s ability to build their nest quickly or efficiently.

According to scientists, if climate change continues then it will affect birds in different ways which may have a major impact on them and ultimately affect other creatures like humans as well.

That’s all about the material gathering and how it affects the speed of nest building by different birds.

Once again, you can find different types of nests built by different kinds of birds for their young ones such as Sparrows’ nests, Bluebirds’ nests, Swallows’ nests, etc.

How do birds decide where to build a nest?

Now let’s talk about how different kinds of birds decide where to build their nests?

For instance, when it comes to the Tree Swallows and House Sparrows, they usually pick high locations for building their nests. On the other hand, most of the ground-nesting birds like American Goldfinches choose low locations for building their nests.

According to scientists, the main reason behind this is that these birds usually build their nests on low locations because those areas are safer from ground-based predators as compared to high places.

It’s because the predators find it difficult to catch them when they are in high locations.

That said, when it comes to picking locations for building nests, Tree Swallows and House Sparrows prefer to stay away from woodlands. They do so because those areas have lower availability of the material required for building their nests.

In contrast, ground-nesting birds have a high preference for woodlands as compared to other locations. This is because they can easily find material for building nests in woodlands.

What’s more?

There are few other factors like temperature and humidity which also affect the location where birds build nests.

For instance, Barn Swallows prefer building their nests near water bodies or rivers because of the increased availability of material for building nests during the summer months.

This is due to birds like them needing mud for building their nests.

On the other hand, there are some birds like Ospreys who also prefer to build their nests on the edge of cliffs instead of trees. This is because they need high places for building their nests.

That said, it’s interesting to note that Barn Swallows aren’t comfortable building their nest near bodies of water during the winter months.

Why do birds build nests?

Now let’s talk about why different birds build nests?  It’s because those who migrate, use the nests as a resting place during summer and as a safe location for their offspring during winter.

In addition to this, they also use those structures for keeping their eggs warm throughout the incubation process.

For instance, some birds like Wood Ducks and Ospreys build nests for keeping their eggs safe from predators during the incubation period. On the other hand, there are some birds that don’t migrate and use those nests to protect themselves from harsh weather conditions.

In addition to this, some birds also breed in their nests which is another primary reason why they build nests for their young ones.

Another interesting thing about how birds build nests!

It’s because most of the time we find some birds building their nest in a hurry at the last moment and leaving it behind incomplete while migrating.  This is why sometimes we see some bird’s half-built nests in trees.

Do birds build a nest before they mate?

Many people believe building a nest before mating is an instinctive behavior in young birds. In some species, both the male and female adults build separate nests to attract each other.  

This is why you can find males carrying nesting material like grass on their heads or tail feathers during courtship rituals. For instance, male Red-winged Blackbirds often gather nesting material for their mates.

In contrast, there are some species of birds that don’t build nests before mating. In addition to this, they also breed in holes or other structures available to them. In fact, they don’t even have a single nest and instead, they breed in the nests of other birds.

Another interesting thing is that some female birds prefer to mate with males who built better nests for them and their offspring. This means it’s the male bird’s responsibility to build a nest before mating.     

Do Birds Return to the Same Nest Year After Year?

Swallow building its own nest with its intelligence

As far as the same nest year after year is concerned, not all birds return back to the same nest. Some of them build new nests each time they breed while others prefer to reuse last year’s nests.

For instance, some birds like Ospreys are known for reusing their nests from one year to another. However, there are other birds like Black-capped Chickadees that build new nests each year.

That said, there are some other species that also return back to the same nests after winter migration. This is because they prefer the warmth of their previous nests during cold weather conditions.

What month do birds build nests?

The interesting thing is that different species of birds build their nests during different months.

For instance, some bird species like American Robin and Osprey build nests in March while others do it in April.

In addition to this, not all birds choose to breed during the spring or summer seasons.

In fact, there are some birds who prefer breeding during the winter months.

For instance, birds like Painted Buntings breed during winter in the southern parts of the United States.

Do birds build nests instinctively?

Now that we know how birds build nests, let’s talk about whether they build them instinctively or it’s learned behavior.

Of course, like other animal species, birds also learn to build nests while growing up. In fact, some bird parents even teach their offspring how to build a nest before leaving them alone.

Who builds the bird nest male or female?

In many species, the male bird’s skill at nest construction is an indication of his suitability as a mate; he puts a lot of effort into it. To attract females, males of the European house wren build up to 12 nests. They will continue to build new homes until a female is a content with the architecture.

There are some bird species that build their nests with the help of both male and female adults. However, there are many other species that only build nests with the help of one sex.

For instance, only the male adult builds a nest in House Sparrows while both males and females do it in Mourning Doves.   

That said, as far as the nests of most birds are concerned, males build them while females only help in lining it. This is why it’s not always possible to tell which sex built a nest just by looking at it.

In addition to this, there are many bird species that neither build their nests nor care for their young after they hatch. In fact, these birds only lay their eggs in the nests built by other bird species and then leave them immediately.   

Last Minute Thought

I hope after making it this far, you have learned how long does it take a bird to build a nest. I have also explained some other facts such as the impact of weather on the bird nest building process.

Apart from that, the selection of sites and gathering of materials is another issue. Therefore, there is no exact duration in which birds build their nest completely. 

All I can say is that on average it takes from 2 days to 2 weeks in which birds to build their nests.

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