How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution: 1. Nesting material

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This series of posts is inspired by Menno Schilthuizen’s book “Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution” – 2018, Quercus Editions Ltd., London. 352pp. – LINK.

Metal wire pigeon's nest - courtesy of Natural History Museum Rotterdam
Metal wire pigeon’s nest – courtesy of Natural History Museum Rotterdam

The image from the Natural History Museum Rotterdam of a Rock Pigeon (Columba livia domestica) nest covered with metal wire is an extreme example of a bird using urban material to construct its nest (above).

House Crow nest of metal pieces - courtesy KC Tsang
Crow nest of metal pieces – courtesy KC Tsang

Use of metal wire is also common among crows. In Singapore’s Jurong industrial estate, pieces of discarded wire left on the factory floor were collected by a House Crow (Corvus splendens) for its nest (above) LINK, although away from such factories only a few pieces are used LINK. Pieces of knotted plastic detached from portable, petrol driven grass cutting machines use similarly used in these nests.

courtesy of Badaunt
Clothes hanger nest – courtesy of Badaunt

In Japan, these crows steal clothes hangers from nearby residents and fit them together into nests (above, below). There are also reports that these crows also collect Christmas tinsels for the same purpose.

Clothes hanger nest - courtesy of Badaunt
Clothes hanger nest – courtesy of Badaunt

Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) on the other hand incorporates plastic bags; tissue paper and styrofoam pieces as well as silky-floss into their nests.

Styrofoam floss nest - courtesy of YC Wee
Styrofoam (?) floss nest – courtesy of YC Wee

There was even an instance of an Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) blue nest made out of synthetic blue fibres.

Citizen scientists out in the field should continue to monitor the situation… to see how things pan out in the years ahead.

YC Wee
Singapore
1st March 2018

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