I’m mad for birds, so much so, that I’ve been looking expectantly lately at the interactive migration maps on the BirdCast website and browsing reports coming in from ares to the south of me on eBird.com, wondering when my fair-weather, feathered friends will be joining me in livening things up in this strangest of springs.
That got me thinking about the reunion I most look forward to: a bird who uses shed snakeskins when building its nest. Yes, it’s true. And how seeing that bird collect a snakeskin in my yard led me to Brett DeGregorio, a wildlife biologist who studies, among other things, the interaction between birds and reptiles. I’m hoping this interview about what bird parents are up against, trying to keep their eggs and nestlings safe, will encourage you all to watch more closely and ask more questions this spring when you see nature doing its wild and crazy things.
Brett is at the University of Arkansas, where he’s Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit Leader. His lab there studies wildlife behavior, interspecies interactions, and conservation biology. His special interest? Reptile and avian conservation and behavior.
We talked about all the things birds incorporate into their nests—as status symbols, or as protection against predators—and how A species nest style is so true to form, Brett says, that, “You don’t even have to see the bird that built the nest to know what species it belongs to.”