GBP Notes 12/14/22 – Nests on the Ground

Nests on the Ground

Rebecca Bowater, our New Zealand Naturalist, has been combing the north end (Nelson area) of the South Island of New Zealand for shorebirds.  She shared some great pictures of the birds there but what caught my eye were their nests that were built on the ground.  Usually when we think of bird nests we immediately envision nests in trees, like a Robin’s nest or Oriole’s nest.  When you think about it there are several kinds of birds commonly found in North America that build their nests on the ground, including Sandhill Cranes, Killdeer, Canada Geese, and Hermit Thrush.  Many shorebirds nest on the ground and Rebecca has provided us with a glimpse into their nests.  Thanks for capturing the birds and their nests!

Below is a Variable Oystercatcher’s nest with two eggs in it.  The nesting material appears to be reed stalks from a nearby marsh.  Notice how the eggs blend right in with the nest making it harder for predators to see them.


At first glance this White-fronted Tern nest looks similar to the Oystercatcher nest above.  Look closer and you’ll see that the nesting material is more like wood chips rather than the sticks above.   Both types of eggs have mostly brown spots with some gray but the White-fronted Tern’s eggs have larger spots.


The Kelp Gull’s nest has a recently hatched chick next to an unhatched egg.  Note this bird prefers a dirt nest and the spots on the egg are paler and smaller than the previous two.


Our final picture is of a Red-billed Gull at its nest.  We can see the nesting material is mostly twigs from trees and the eggs have a greenish hue to them with dark, almost black spots on them.


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Fascinating look at nature. I wonder what the rate of successful survival is. I remember from visiting New Zealand that many areas were well protected but there was some sort of rodent predator. Great pictures indeed!