Do birds reuse nests?

Every bird fancy the use of a nest to contain and shelter its eggs until they become fully fledged. The question here now is do birds reuse nests?


Don’t be in a hurry for the answer. We are about to know if a bird truly makes use of an old nest or settles to build new nests. Continue reading to find out more about how birds deal with their old abode. Some birds don’t see the need to reuse their nests not even when it is well built probably because bird species of their kind are designed to take to the hard work of sourcing for nesting materials to be used to build their nest.

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While this goes for some bird species, many other related ones would settle to make do with an old nest either because of its large size which gives them enough space that is required to build their new bird nests on.

Do birds reuse nests?

There are factors that could influence birds to always want to build new bird nests and one of these factors you will find to be durability. How long a nest can last is one major reason why many birds build their own space and do not take up old nests to be reused.

Season comes and goes but not all nests can last after a period of time or when a particular season has begun. So it will take them to continue to build new nests every year to house its eggs. Another possible factor as to why many birds don’t reuse their nests is more like a preventive measure to keep their chicks safe from predators and parasites as a degrading nest may harbor microorganisms that could lead to parasitic infections to the young ones.

There are few other questions that have been raised by people who may want to know how a bird uses its nest. Read on to find out the answer to how birds have received high recognition by their style of nesting.

How often will a bird reuse its nest?

Not many birds fancy the use of their nest more than once. Especially Woodpeckers that build their nests every year, this they do for as many years as possible. Their abandoned nests can however be utilized by other birds as they will occupy it to breed.

Think of birds that have to fly to the same site every year or at a certain season of the year to breed. Certain swallows will have to exercise patience in allowing their previous nest collapse before proceeding to build a new one. This shows how they prioritize and appreciate the use of new nests and trying to force through is like sending a mail to the wrong email address.

Do birds reuse nests?

In the case of certain swallows, if it happens that the old nest does not fall, the swallow may have to shift its nest year for the following year. This can happen if the winter season is too dry, swallows are prone to suffer this fate.

The Hummingbird will not build a nest until it has used the old one for up to three consecutive years without having to make a new one. The Hummingbird will have to add one or two materials to the old one so that it is stronger than it used to be and more convenient for raising little Hummingbirds.

Birds like blackbirds would raise their broods in a new nest every year for as many years as possible. This can be carried out on the same spot where the former nest is or in the same area but on a different tree or environment. Blackbirds do themselves some good by saving time to pull down deformed nests and other related things to salvage useful pieces of it to build a new nest.

Birds that reuse their nests - The recyclers

How about we talk about big birds with big nests? The major class that use their previous nests are predatory birds like the hawk, eagle and several others. The simple logic behind this is that firstly, their nests are large and require a lot of hard work to make.

Let’s study the eagle for an example. The eagle will reuse their nests year after year possibly because it requires effort and it is very large when compared to other bird’s nests. The eagle often return to the same nesting site every year and when they do, they spruce up the rough nest and raise young ones. This is the reason why it is not good to assume, when you see an empty eagle’s nest, that it is abandoned. The eagle could return at any time.

Why do birds reuse old nests?

The possibility of birds taking up abandoned nests is dependent on some factors. Swallows use the same nesting site, even if the nest belongs to a different owner.

For birds like the robins, they may look out for some environmental factor which will determine if they get to reuse the same nest. If a robin successfully raises its chicks, it is likely to consider that same place to nest on again.

Do birds reuse nests?

But if the eggs of a robin or any other bird gets disturbed on the tree where it is or attacked by predators or any other external factor, the bird will not return to that spot but will resolve to another in a more conducive environment.

The possibility of returning to a nest to be used again is also dependent on the nesting spot. If an eagle does not succeed in raising young eaglets due to discomfort that is owing to the spot where the nest is located, she is not coming back, or many not anytime soon.

Can a bird reuse another bird's nest?

Some birds are fond of using nests that belong to another bird when the bird (owner) migrates and then they leave once the owner returns. This act of occupancy could even be a way of seeking temporal shelter in a particular season.


If a bird has several batches of broods, it makes no sense to keep building several nests. That is why the bird will always check into available nests then use some material to try to amend any distortion made to the structure so as to make the place more suitable to raise her chicks.

The danger of nesting

Nesting is very fundamental to a large species of birds in their breeding process so as to protect their nestlings. While some of them prefer to construct their nest in the same area, at the same spot where they made the former, there are negative effects that this could have on the eggs which is one of the reasons why you won’t find some species of birds nesting in the same area.

When birds consistently nest in the same spot, they stand the risk of predators memorizing that area and then, attacking their eggs. Reused nests are also filled with parasites that can be harmful not the chicks.


Most birds occupy other bird’s nests when empty as a means to save the time it takes to get theirs built.

Some male birds attract females with completed nests to attract them without the intention of using it.

This is not a common situation as they can choose to start a separate life once they are grown to maturity. Yet it is possible.

Not all of them do but if a bird is to reuse the same nest, they clean it and add some material to give it a clean look.


Birds are part of intelligent animals not to be ignored and as a result of their lifestyle, they have gained so much attention from wildlife researchers and other scholars.

They are one of the animals that will not settle for a second best and thereby not breed in the same nest twice. They could decide to rebuild it or add some other things on top of the nest in order to get rid of the aged look, more comfortable for breeding their chicks in which they have their own way of carrying out the work.

Before birds use a nest, they ensure to clean up the place and give it a good look just like you would do to give an apartment a different look from what it used to be. And as part of the breeding process of birds, they will only settle or raise their young ones in an area where both the bird and her brood are free from predators and disease.

Birds do not want to waste their effort trying to set up a new nest so they will prefer to return to the same area where their old nest is and raise broods but they don’t just return so their old nest can be reused, they add nesting material on top of the deteriorating one each time of the year they are ready to breed so that the old material acts more like the foundation of the new nest.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

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