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Is it common for different birds to reuse the same nest in one year?

Sent in by Stuart Nichols, Liverpool

Stuart said: 'We have a pair of robins who have set up home in an old blackbird nest in our garden. Both the blackbird and now the robins have had chicks in that one nest in one season. Is it common for birds of different species to reuse nests?'

That's a lovely story and not one we hear often, but birds can be very resourceful when looking for a place to lay their eggs.

Some birds have it easy and their nest is merely a small hollow scraped out of the ground, but others are intricate, woven structures.

Birds can use a variety of nesting material, from lichen and cobwebs to strips of metal of varying sizes. (The latter items, not regularly used I must admit, were bagged by a pigeon, nesting on a building site, taking advantage of some handy materials for its own construction work) Clearly though, if birds can reuse a nest built by others, it saves a great deal of time and effort.

Both blackbirds and robins have several lots of young each year. If they build fresh nests each time that's a great deal of hard work. Feeding and caring for lots of babies is extremely strenuous too, so it seems very sensible of these robins to use a nest that was already built. It's probably a des res in a sought after location!

Time saving, nest-building measures include stealing materials from other birds' nests and snatching twigs, moss etc already gathered. So watch out for house sparrows having a tug of war with some fluffy pampas grass - and the ultimate, be like a cuckoo and leave all that construction and parenting work to others!

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