9 Unusually Detailed Animal Habitats
See how birds, oysters, snails, caterpillars, moths, and more rely on their inventive natures to create the perfect nesting place.
Male Baya Weaver
A male Baya Weaver in Namibia builds a waterproof nest from blades of grass that dry in the sun. Then his intended mate decides whether it’s good enough. If she rejects it, he might tear it apart and start over.
Carrier snails make mobile castles by mounting pebbles and mollusk shells on their cases. It can take a snail ten hours to mount each new object, with the help of sticky secretions.
Lime (a calcium compound) is used in human-home construction, but sea creatures such as this thorny oyster in Thailand rely on it as well; in fact, sea organisms have been building body shells from lime for estimated 600 million years.
Moths have their own artistry. Buff-tip moth larvae in Hungary live together and build a protective web around their fodder plant.
This Eurasian Penduline Tit nest, made with poplar and willow seeds, is nearly predator-proof because of its shape and tight weave.
A Steely-vented Hummingbird nest in Central America is made from plant fibers, moss, and animal hair. It’s well camouflaged in a shrub, bush, or tree, and is built to stretch to almost double its size as the chicks grow. Only the females are involved in nest-building.
True to her name, the Eurasian Reed Warbler builds her cup-shaped nest on reeds; both mom and dad incubate and feed the babies. Unfortunately, these elegant dwellings attract unwanted house guests: European cuckoos like to deposit one of their own eggs here, leaving the “foster parents” to nurture their newborns.
Weaver nests hang from trees and are sometimes joined to make communal homes.
Having reached caterpillar stage, the future moths feed in the open.
To see more wild animal artistry, pick up “Animal Architecture” here.