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Swans with nest and eggs on Lake Constance

Nest (from pre-Germanic nizdo , 'branch', and related to Latin nidus , 'nest', and German down ) is a name for burrows that are made by different animal species and that serve them as sleeping, living and breeding grounds. Egg-laying animals usually look for a protected place to lay their eggs, many birds build nests for this purpose , and this is often additionally designed, especially when it comes to subsequent brood care . Species specific different one finds among others, birds and mammals padded nests in fish plant ( sticklebacks ) and foam nests in insects , for example, honeycomb or ants and ant nests .

The nest is used for the clutch, the brood , the storage of food and to protect the nestlings during rearing . Some bird species, such as the pond claw, build several nest forms during their breeding season , including a nest in which the actual breeding takes place and which is defended extremely aggressively during the breeding season.

Nests of certain groups of animals


Most bird nests are only used for rearing (at least the eggs are incubated). Since bird eggs with their calcified shell can roll well, a particularly important reason for the birds to build nests is to prevent the eggs from rolling away and to hold them together so that they can be incubated at the same time.

The open construction of the residential building, which is typical for birds, results from the fact that a complete conversion would obstruct the escape route for an animal capable of flying. There are numerous exceptions (particularly artful hanging nests are built by weaver birds ), these can serve in particular to ward off dangers from the air.

Another protective strategy for nest building for mostly smaller birds is to build nests so far away from the trunk with a load-bearing capacity that is safely guaranteed for the nest and residents, but is not sufficient for the approach of climbing carnivores (e.g. weaver birds).

An additional measure is to rappel down the nests to make them more difficult to reach for climbing snakes (e.g. weaver birds).

The nests of large birds hardly have a protective function, they rather serve to provide clutches and brood with a hold (in the eagle's nest, the difficult-to-reach nest position of these very powerful animals takes on the protective function).

In the case of birds of prey or certain other large birds, the nest is called eyrie , such as eagle's nest or stork's nest , which can be built in inaccessible places such as steep rock faces or on towers ( storks ).

There are edible bird nests suitable for human consumption .


Some primates - such as chimpanzees and gorillas  - can set up temporary night nests. Other tree-dwelling rodents (squirrels, dormouse) also set up tree nests, often for a longer period of time.

Foam nests

Foam nest of the dwarf gourami

Some bony fish and frogs (female Wallace flying frogs ) produce foam nests to house the fry.


Climbing an eagle's nest to remove young birds or eggs was often mythologically exaggerated in alpine folk literature, as was the case with Ludwig Ganghofer , for whom it served as evidence of manhood and manliness.

In the film Rapa Nui - Rebellion in Paradise it goes. a. about being the first to bring a sooty tern egg from a rocky island to Easter Island in an archaic competition . The presentation may be fictional customs.


The largest collection of nests is housed by the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (WFVZ), where 18,000 nests are kept.

Cultural and metaphorical adaptations

The term "nest" is also used metaphorically as a designation for security and pleasant homeliness as well as for a security and warmth giving community (e.g. family, community, community, group) or a warmth and security giving environment (e.g. an apartment or a room or a place where people feel comfortable, protected and secure).

The motif of the nest - aesthetically inspired primarily by the bird's nest - appears culturally adapted as an Easter custom, namely in the custom, for Easter eggs , chocolate eggs , chocolate Easter bunnies and other sweets, etc. a. to present or give away arranged in Easter nests . Such Easter nests can be designed in different ways, often they consist, for example, of round, bowl-like baskets that are padded with hay, wood wool or Easter grass (green colored wood wool). Eggs and sweets are arranged in it.

In the architecture, the motif of the nest appears at the Beijing National Stadium , the Olympic stadium for the 2008 Summer Games, which is popularly known as the “bird's nest” because of its appearance.

See also

Natural bee nest


  • Rosamund Purcell, Linnea S. Hall, René Corado: Egg and Nest . Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2008, ISBN 978-0674031722 .

Web links

Commons : Nest  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Nest  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th ed., Ed. by Walther Mitzka , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 508.
  2. ^ Nicholas E. Collias: The evolution of nest-building in birds. In: Am. Zoologist , Volume 4, 1964, pp. 175-190, [1]
  3. Karin Stämpfli et al .: Influence of nest-floor slope on the nest choice of laying hens. In: Applied Animal Behavior , Volume 135, No. 4, 2011, pp. 286–292, [2]
  4. Richard Tenaza: Behavior and nesting success relative to nest location in Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). In: The Condor , Volume 73, 1971, pp. 81-92 [3]
  5. Birds online.CH - chaffinch
  6. ^ Richard W. Wrangham: Chimpanzee cultures . Chicago Academy of Sciences, Harvard University Press, 1996, ISBN 9780674116634 , p. 115 (Retrieved July 2, 2011).
  7. Fabian Krause: Chronobiological studies on space-time use in an orangutan pair in the Osnabrück Zoo. Bachelor thesis 2008, chapter 3.3 [4]
  8. Alexander Nortrup, Winfried Schumacher: Tapati Festival on Easter Island: Vogelmann in the Schleudergang In: Spiegel online , February 18, 2013, accessed February 1, 2015.