do birds make nests on the ground

A wide variety of birds nest on the ground, including game birds, shore birds, waterfowl and some song bird species. This allows the bird to make the best use of cover within the habitat. In some cases, the nesting occurs in areas such as open prairie of shorelines with few trees. In other cases, the nesting habits match the feeding and roosting habits of the ground-dwelling species.

Game bird species such as grouse, turkey and pheasants all nest on the ground. Typically the birds create a small depression in the ground lined with grass and possibly even feathers. Young game birds hatch more fully developed than the tree nesting variety and can run to escape predators almost immediately after birth. The young and hen continue to use the nest as a place of shelter.

Shore birds such as plovers, avocets, terns and sandpipers all nest on the ground near shore lines. Some shorebird species create relatively rocky nests while others choose grassy or weedy areas for nesting. Some species are known for mixed clutches or nests. In these situations, more than one female of the species deposits eggs in a single nest. Shorebird nesting success is adversely affected by rising waters that can flood the nesting sites.

Most waterfowl, with exceptions such as the wood duck, are ground nesters. This includes most of the duck and all the goose and swan species. These birds spend time on the ground, in the water, or flying, but never set in trees. Waterfowl nests are close enough to water to allow the female to lead the young to the water which ultimately is its best protection from predators such as raccoons or foxes.

A minority of song bird species nest on the ground. The wood and hermit thrushes, the northern junco, meadowlark and bobolink all nest on the ground, even in areas where trees and shrubs are available. These species commonly form grass-lined nests. The song bird young hatch without feathers or down and are unable to walk or run. This leaves these species vulnerable to predators in the period after they hatch.

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in “North Dakota Horizons” and “Cowboys and Indians” magazines.

Before their chicks can leave the nest, Eastern and Western Meadowlark parents tend to and feed their hatchlings for approximately two weeks. On the other hand, the Northern Bobwhite’s down-covered offspring quickly abandon the nest after hatching. Similar to meadowlarks, both parents care for their young Northern Bobwhites, but the small, fluffy quail chicks are able to feed themselves. Additionally, Bobwhite parents may engage in a short flight or distracting display to entice away predators in the event of a threat. Following the threat, the parents start calling to one another and the children to get everyone together. One to two weeks after hatching, young quail can make brief flights, but hatchling meadowlarks typically start flying at the age of one month.

Have you ever heard the old saying, “He, or She, has a bird nest on the ground?” It usually means that someone has found something that will allow them to make large sums of money with little work. When we literally find a bird’s nest on the ground, we typically think of it as a sign of bad luck for the birds—for example, a strong wind or storm that has blown the nest or the young birds out of a nearby tree or shrub. Interestingly, though, a lot of bird species build nests or just lay their eggs on the ground and raise them there. It doesn’t imply that there has been a recent disaster; it is entirely normal for them.

Though regarded as “shorebirds,” Killdeer are frequent visitors to our reservoirs, ponds, parks, golf courses, lawns, and other open areas (including even access driveways and roads). They have recognizable calls that resemble a variation of their common name. These adaptable ground-nesters will create a small depression in the earth for their nest. In fact, the parents may create multiple “scratch nests” in a given area, but they may only select one to lay and incubate their eggs in, possibly as a means of avoiding predators. One or both parents will then put on their well-known “broken wing” charade displays if a predator gets too close. The parent leads possible predators or threats away from the nest, eggs, or young birds while making piteous calls and dragging a wing across the ground. The Killdeer then “heals” and magically takes off when the threat is drawn far enough away to satisfy its parent(s); typically in a direction and pattern away from its actual nest. Even though it might occasionally seem as though nests are abandoned, watchful parents will shade the eggs with their wings and even soak their belly feathers to help maintain the right temperatures for egg incubation if the weather gets too hot during the egg brooding period. Soon after hatching, the long-legged, “puff-ball”-looking chicks leave their nest and are cared for and raised by both parents. They are about twenty-five days old when they take their first flight!

Some birds that are sometimes referred to as “upland” ground nesting birds are the Northern Bobwhite quail and meadowlarks (of which there are both Eastern and Western species). In recent decades, the number of natural populations of these species has decreased, despite their continued status as common and fairly widespread. Disease, habitat loss, and the spread of non-native fire ants are just a few of the many variables that have led to the decline of these birds throughout their original ranges.

The varied group of birds known as ground nesters includes both Eastern and Western species of Meadowlarks, familiar birds like Killdeer and Northern Bobwhite quail, and some waterfowl, like Mallard ducks. These birds have evolved numerous strategies for successfully raising their young in environments that would seem to be hostile or unfavorable. For instance, compared to “tree-nesting” species, the majority of ground-nesting birds lay larger eggs. Additionally, the parents usually select vegetation or soil substrate colors that closely resemble the colors and patterns of their eggs. Furthermore, preening parents produce oils that minimize scents around their nests, as discovered by scientists. Additionally, compared to many other species, the chicks that hatch from the larger eggs are more developed, precocious, and active, and they can typically leave the nest and follow their parent or parents very soon after!

After graduating from Valley City State College in 1979, Keith Allen has held a number of positions, including manager of a medical clinic, host of a radio talk show, computer operator, and potato sorter. He has been a newspaper reporter and historical researcher for more than five years. His writings have been published in North Dakota’s local newspapers as well as the magazines “North Dakota Horizons” and “Cowboys and Indians.”

With a few exceptions, like the wood duck, the majority of waterfowl nest on the ground. This comprises all species of geese and swans, as well as the majority of ducks. These birds never settle in trees; instead, they spend their time flying, swimming, and on the ground. The best defense against foxes and raccoons is provided by waterfowl nests, which are near enough to the water for the mother to guide the young there.

A minority of song bird species nest on the ground. Even in places where there are trees and shrubs, the wood and hermit thrushes, the northern junco, the meadowlark, and the bobolink all build their nests on the ground. These species commonly form grass-lined nests. The young songbirds cannot walk or run after they hatch because they lack down and feathers. Because of this, these species are susceptible to predators during the time following hatching.

Many different kinds of birds, such as shorebirds, game birds, waterfowl, and certain species of songbirds, build their nests on the ground. This enables the bird to utilize the cover in the habitat to its fullest potential. There are instances where the nesting takes place in places like open prairie or shorelines with few trees. In other instances, the feeding and roosting patterns of the ground-dwelling species coincide with the nesting behaviors.

Sandpipers, plovers, avocets, and terns are among the shorebirds that build their nests on the ground close to the coast. While some shorebird species prefer to nest in grassy or weedy areas, others build nests that are relatively rocky. Some species are known for mixed clutches or nests. In these circumstances, a single nest contains the eggs laid by multiple females of the species. Rising waters that can inundate the shorebird nesting sites have a negative impact on the success of shorebird nesting.


What bird builds its nest on the ground?

Ground nesters are a diverse group and include the familiar birds such as Killdeer, Northern Bobwhite quail, Meadowlarks (both Eastern and Western species occur in our area), and some waterfowl such as the Mallard duck.

Why would a bird make a nest on the ground?

Some birds build their nests directly on the ground. Often these nests are very simple hollows that birds make in which to lay their eggs. Birds that nest on the ground are vulnerable to predators so these nests are well-camouflaged to blend in with their habitat.

What should you do if you find a birds nest on the ground?

If you find a surprise nest, leave it be. “You’re not supposed to mess with it,” says avian ecologist Caren Cooper from North Carolina State University. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, a federal law, protects roughly 1,100 native bird species, including eggs and nests.

What builds nests on the ground?

A wide variety of birds nest on the ground, including game birds, shore birds, waterfowl and some song bird species. This allows the bird to make the best use of cover within the habitat. In some cases, the nesting occurs in areas such as open prairie of shorelines with few trees.