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structure for the reception and incubation of the eggs of birds, reptiles, insects, and some fish or for the parturition of mammals, and also for the care of the young during their period of helplessness. Chimpanzees, orangutan, and gorillas build nests to sleep in each night. Birds are the chief nest builders, exhibiting great variety and ingenuity among the different species. The type of nest depends on the environment and the condition of the young when hatched. Altricial birds, whose young are generally blind, naked, and helpless on hatching, usually build higher and more elaborate nests than do precocial birds, whose young have a downy covering and are able to move about and feed themselves soon after emerging from the egg. Most sea birds, shore birds, and game birds do not build real nests but lay their eggs directly on a rocky ledge or in a shallow depression scooped out of the earth or sand. Woodpeckers and parrots nest inside hollow trees, as do the Old World hornbills; the male hornbill seals the female into the cavity, leaving an aperture only large enough for him to feed her as she incubates the eggs. Sand martins and kingfishers dig tunnels into shore banks, with enlarged nesting chambers at the ends. The stork's nest is a simple platform of sticks, and the eagle's aerie, built in tree tops or on cliffs, may be 5 to 12 ft (1.5–3.7 m) in diameter; both birds add to their nests each year. As a general rule, the smaller the bird the more elaborate is the nest. Among passerine (perching) birds the male usually selects the feeding and nesting territory, while the female chooses the nest site. In many species the duties of nest building and incubating are shared. The nest is usually bowl-shaped and composed of twigs, grass, leaves, and (when available) bits of cloth and string; thrushes line their nests with clay. Intricately woven, pendent, arboreal nests give the American oriole its alternate name, hangnest; the Old World weaverbirds' nests are similar, with one species building immense communal structures housing up to 600 birds. Swallows, ovenbirds, and flamingos build nests of mud cemented with saliva, and an Oriental swift builds its nest entirely of a salivary secretion (used to make bird's-nest soup by the Chinese). The turkeylike megapode, or mound bird, of Australia leaves its eggs in a pile of decaying vegetation, which provides the heat to incubate them; it is the only bird to share this nesting method with the reptiles. Among the insects, ants, bees, and wasps are well known for their nests. Some fish (e.g., the stickleback) build nests of weeds. Most rodents (e.g., mice and squirrels) are nesters; rabbits line their nests with down, as do ducks and geese. The den or lair of the larger mammals (e.g., wolves and lions) serves the same function as a nest.


See P. Goodfellow, Avian Architecture (2011).



a structure built by animals for raising offspring, and less frequently, for protection.

Nests intended for reproduction are found among the most varied animal groups. Invertebrates make various nests: the octopus prepares a pit in the ground, surrounded with an embankment of rocks and shells; spiders make cocoons of spider web; leaf rollers make cocoons of twisted woody leaves; solitary wasps and bees make cells of earth bonded with saliva. Peculiar spun nests are constructed by the caterpillars of the pierid butterfly and the brown-tail moth.

The nests of vertebrates are also varied. The salmon buries its eggs in pebbles, the goby fish puts them in a nest made of stones, and the trident stickleback deposits them in a nest of seaweed. The Hylambates maculatus frog wraps leaves into a tube for its nest; the crocodile and the turtle bury their eggs in soil.

Bird nests are particularly diverse. Fowl and snipes have simple pits with scanty lining; gulls, merely a heap of plant residue with a trough in the middle. Many other birds build durable structures of cuplike form. Some birds native to the USSR (wrens, titmouse family) and many tropical types (particularly among the weaverbirds) have nests that are enclosed and circular, oval, or flask-shaped, with side entrances, and are frequently open at the end of an elongated neck. Bird nests are placed in a wide range of locations, and construction materials also vary greatly. For example, the swallow fastens pieces of earth together with saliva to make its nest, and certain swifts make their entire nests of saliva, which hardens on contact with air; inhabitants of southern Asia use these swift nests for food. Among mammals, it is chiefly rodents that make nests, and the most carefully done are the round nests made from grass blades and plant fluff by the harvest mouse; similar to these are the nests of the dormouse and squirrel. Beavers make their nests of branches and mud; muskrats use grass and swamp growth.

Most animals place their nests separately. Nesting colonies are peculiar to social insects, such as wasps, bees, ants, and termites. Their extensive nests with many chambers are very complex. Wasps have several single-staged combs, enclosed in a common cover of “paper” made by the wasps out of masticated wood fiber. Bees make their nests of wax, and ants of plant residue and earth. Termites construct enormous nests, as high as 7 or 8 meters, from earth and masticated wood. Nesting in colonies is found among auks, gulls, rooks, and herons, which place their individual nests in close proximity to each other in unified colonies. Some tropical birds, such as the sociable grosbeak, build nest colonies in the form of large structures in which individual pairs place their separate nests. Mixed nesting by separate species is a relatively rare phenomenon. It is found among red and brown wood ants, which live in a single nest, and also among eagles and sparrows; the latter sometimes make their nests in the walls of eagle nests. An extremely rare occurrence is symbiotic nesting, found among termites and ants—for example, aphids and other insects live in ant nests as symbionts.

Nests ordinarily serve for one reproductive season, but termites, bees, wasps, ants, and certain large birds which make their nests of branches return to the same nests for many years. In a number of species, nests also serve as places of protection—for example, for birds that build in hollow trees or build insulated enclosed nests, such as sparrows and wrens. The same is true of dormice, squirrels, and musk-rats. The winter nests of field mice, built under the snow, serve only as protection.


Shvanvich, B. N. Kurs obshchei entomologii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Formozov, A. N. Sputnik siedopyta, part 3. Moscow, 1952.
Mikheev, A. V. Kak ptitsy stroiat gnezda. Moscow, 1968.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vols. 1-5. Moscow, 1968-71.


What does it mean when you dream about a nest?

To see a nest or to be building a nest may indicate that a new home is being prepared or built. A strong sense of homemaking, or having the “nesting” instinct, occurs when a woman is pregnant. A desire to go home may be expressed by this dream symbol.


(computer science)
To include data or subroutines in other items of a similar nature with a higher hierarchical level so that it is possible to access or execute various levels of data or routines recursively.
A concentration of some relatively conspicuous element of a geologic feature, such as pebbles or inclusions, within a sand layer or igneous rock.
(vertebrate zoology)
Abed, receptacle, or location in which the eggs of animals are laid and hatched.


1. a place or structure in which birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, mice, etc., lay eggs or give birth to young
2. a number of animals of the same species and their young occupying a common habitat


(1) (Nest Labs) See Alphabet.

(2) (NEST) (Novell Embedded Systems Technology) Extensions to NetWare 4.x that provided networking to office machines and consumer products. Originally touted as a connectivity protocol for everything from a VCR to a TV, NEST was primarily used in millions of print servers and some fax servers, implementing Novell's QMS printing protocol. See QMS.
References in classic literature ?
Never did any bird flying back to a plundered nest, which it had left brimful of chirping young ones, express more complete despair, in its anguished cries and flutterings, than she by her single 'Oh
The old ones turn 'em out o' their nest an' make 'em fly an' they're scattered before you know it.
So I begged the one who owned the nest to which I had been carried to take as much as he would of my treasure, but he contented himself with one stone, and that by no means the largest, assuring me that with such a gem his fortune was made, and he need toil no more.
They all wished her joy, and the swallow sat above in his nest and sang the wedding march, and that he did as well as he could; but he was sad, because he was very fond of Thumbelina and did not want to be separated from her.
continued he, exultingly; laying the nest on the ground, and standing over it with his legs wide apart, his hands thrust into his breeches-pockets, his body bent forward, and his face twisted into all manner of contortions in the ecstasy of his delight.
and sometimes he played the birth of birds, and then the mothers would turn round in their nests to see whether they had laid an egg.
Together they spied out the sparrows' nests and watched the tiny nestlings as they grew, the big rough boy learning much from his tender-hearted, gentle sister.
It would be easy to show that several distinct mental actions are commonly embraced by this term; but every one understands what is meant, when it is said that instinct impels the cuckoo to migrate and to lay her eggs in other birds' nests.
Out of the four nests which I saw, three contained twenty-two eggs each, and the fourth twenty-seven.
When Captain Sleet in person stood his mast-head in this crow's nest of his, he tells us that he always had a rifle with him (also fixed in the rack), together with a powder flask and shot, for the purpose of popping off the stray narwhales, or vagrant sea unicorns infesting those waters; for you cannot successfully shoot at them from the deck owing to the resistance of the water, but to shoot down upon them is a very different thing.
In the neighborhood of three hundred years ago the Swallow's Nest and the larger castle between it and Neckarsteinach were owned and occupied by two old knights who were twin brothers, and bachelors.
So they took stock of the hole where the nest lay, and trotted away.