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Getting Grilled About Nests

2013 April 12
by Seth Inman

Photo by Sharon Obery, IL

As Karen pointed out yesterday here, in the past few years we’ve seen a fair number of nests found by contributors in their grills. And although at first it might seem surprising to learn that so many people are finding nests there (and, as you can see from their captions, the photographers are usually pretty shocked to open up their grill and encounter eggs or nestlings!), if you think a little about what certain bird species look for in a nesting location, grills actually make sense as nest homes. Why? Well, let’s review a couple facts that we’ve established in the past.

First off, many species will always nest in a protected hole, or cavity. The most common of these that you could find around your house include (but aren’t limited to) European Starlings, House Sparrows, House Wrens, and Eastern Bluebirds. Next, we should remember that the most important factor for a nest location is its capability to provide shelter and protection from predators. Does it sound like a grill would meet these requirements? Here’s some of their nest-worthy qualities:

  • They’re typically left out in the back yard with the top down (thereby creating a cavity).
  • A household grill normally isn’t used all winter or in the early spring, and so is seen by a bird as a good out-of-the-way cavity that hasn’t been taken yet.
  • Grills are raised off the ground and made of metal, meaning that they’re well-insulated and—especially since they’re often painted black—catch and absorb the sun’s rays, providing a little extra heat to keep eggs warm.

Photo by Debra French, PA

From this little list, the photos shared here, and our assumption that a majority of (sub)urban households own a grill, we can see that grills across the country can serve as perfect places for cavity nesters! One question that I still haven’t answered is why the birds in these photos often put so much extra nesting material all around the actual cup of the nest. There’s several potential explanations for this—but what do you think?

One Response leave one →
  1. Kathy permalink
    June 30, 2013

    We have a nest in our grill see the mother bringing food to the chicks. But it’s now June 30th and the weather is hot- several days at nearly 90! I cannot imagine how hot it must be inside the grill. Will these chicks survive?

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