What bird nests have taught me about adaptation and uncertainty

What bird nests have taught me about adaptation and uncertainty

Our home is holding who we are. Where we can truly be ourselves. It’s meant to be a place of restoration. We can completely let go and be our true selves.”  Lindsay Graham, The Centre for the Built Environment

When I first ran the Nest Adventure in 2021 with a group of wonderful adventurers and fellow odd kin we loved how learning about nesting birds also helped us reflect on our own lives, and the way that we want to be living.

Here are five things we learned about nesting birds, and how they helped us rethink how to live life:

1. Bird nests are diverse

Pigeons build rickety nests out of twigs at the top of trees. Great Tits create cosy, little circular nests with a tiny hole in them made from moss and twigs and leaves and spider silk (the spider silk helps the nests to grow with the chicks, like elastic). In the Adventure, we thought about the kind of nests that we would like to support our well-being; we decided we'd much rather have the nests that allow for growth, that are cosy and keep us warm and well insulated.

2. Birds improve their nest building over time

Birds have been shown to improve on their nests from one year to the next. The first year a bird builds their nest, they might not add enough insulation so the next year they'll add more moss. It shows that although the nest building must be innate, improving it is trial and error. We learned that just like the birds, we have to give things a go, see what happens and learn from it.

3. Birds create the cup shape using their bodies

Songbirds make their nests by pushing their breast repeatedly around the centre of the nest in a circle, eventually creating the cup shape that holds their eggs. This idea of nest being made to fit neatly the body of the bird was really precious. It made us think about how curating our own homes so they fit our bodies' needs will help us to live a life more aligned to who we are.

4. Birds adapt to their environment

In 2021, May was particularly cold, which meant that birds delayed laying their eggs for little while. We learned that when we're in seasons when we're feeling tired or exhausted that are happening around us, we can pause, and come back to things later. To go with the flows of the cycles and seasons.

5. Eggs are both protective and porous

Eggshells are both protective and porous. The chick inside needs to be able to breathe as it is growing and yet must also be protected by the shell. This made us think about our dreams, our ideas, our well-being and how we need to allow ourselves time to breathe as well as protect those ideas.

“The vulnerability we're experiencing in the pandemic is the vulnerability that songbirds feel every day of their lives." - Robin Wall Kimmerer in The Guardian

There are many ways of being on this planet, and by watching and learning, and observing and showing curiosity, we can begin to expand our idea of what it means to be alive in an uncertain world. The birds helped us realise that we can be adaptive, embodied, different, constantly learning and hold our dreams lightly and carefully.

I'd love to hear your birds nest stories and how they make you think differently about living life - let me know in the comments.


If you're looking for community, encouragement, tips and guidance in deepening your relationship with the wild within and without, Rewild Your Soul - A Year Of Seasonal Adventures is open for enrolment – sign up to the early access list to get 15% off.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.