Backyard Chirper

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Bird nest decor may have hidden messages

An article in Wired Science reported a recent discovery that raptors use nest decorations as signals; biologists suspect that many other bird species may do the same.

According to researchers, black kite raptors were found to use white plastic to show territorial dominance.  Other combinations of trash and plastic may signify that a bird is preparing to lay eggs.

“It’s probably very common that other bird species decorate their nests in ways compatible with what we found,” said Fabrizio Sergio, a biologist at the Doñana Biological Station in Spain. “And not only birds, but fish and mammals.”

Serigo’s study, which contained observations of 127 black kite nests in Spain’s Donana National Park, was published on Jan 21 in Science magazine.

He is currently conducting a long-term study of black kite nest decoration in order to understand how it will change during the bird’s lifetime.