Bird’s Eye View: Burrow Nests On Abbott Street

A hedge on Abbott Street between Hastings and West Pender Street is home to many birds. I pass by it often, perhaps four or five times a week,  on my way to T & T Supermarket, Tinseltown, Chinatown, Strathcona, the seawall, well, you get the idea. There are some signs that this spot is cared for by someone in the neighbourhood.

An ornament hangs from a branch.

A handmade bird feeder is attached to the chain link fence by green twist ties.

One day someone trimmed the hedge and the ground was laid bare, revealing jagged holes in the uneven, hardened ground.

It turns out they are bird nests.

I did some sleuthing. I think these are bank swallows, migratory passerine birds in the swallow family also known as sand martins.  They are sociable birds and anywhere between a dozen to hundreds will nest close together.  Their nests are often found at the end of tunnels in sand or gravel and range from a few inches to three or four feet deep. These types of nests are called burrow nests.

A sand martin perched near burrow nests in Poland (Source: Wikipedia)

What, then, are “regular” nests called? The correct term for nests we are most familiar with is cup nest. They are hemispherical with a depression to hold eggs, and are made with mud, twigs and grass.

A blackbird happily sits in a cup nest. (Source: Wikipedia)

Baby woodpeckers peep out of a cavity nest. (Source: Wikipedia)

A hole in a tree as home is called a cavity nest.

Beady-eyed sand martin. (Source: Wikipedia)

I cannot write at length on the subject of birds because pictures of them frighten me (see above). The next time you are in the neighbourhood, walk down Abbott Street and look into the hedge. Some beady eyes might be staring back at you.


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One Response to Bird’s Eye View: Burrow Nests On Abbott Street

  1. Rebecca August 10, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    I had no idea that was there. It’s kind of neat. Do you think a homeless person is taking care of them?

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