The nest of the magpie lark provides a sturdy home on a branch because it is a bowl-shape, made of mud and reinforced with sticks, feathers, fur, and grass.

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"The magpie lark of Australia constructs a bowl of mud strengthened not only with grass but with small sticks, feathers, and fur. This creation is placed atop a branch, so it must be well secured. Not only is there less surface area between nest and substrate than the swallows and martins have to work with, but the branch can move abruptly, whereas cliff faces do not. One behavioral response to this greater challenge is that the birds seem to vibrate the mud more intensely, apparently to forge a better bond as it liquefies and runs between the straw and other reinforcing material. The birds also wrap the mud almost completely around the supporting branch, enlarging the area of contact…the individual mud pellets cannot be distinguished, so complete has been the flow of liquefied mud." (Gould and Gould 2007:184)

Book
Animal Architects: Building and the Evolution of IntelligenceBasic BooksMarch 6, 2012
James L. Gould

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