Toroa (aka royal albatross) are one of nature's most incredible and awesome fliers, and they can glide 190,000 kilometers a year at sea (that's a lot of trips to the dairy and back!). They have one of the widest wingspans of any bird (3m!) and they also have one of longest incubation periods (11 weeks!) sitting on their eggs = that nest better be comfortable. Find out all about the toroa nest, with Department of Conservation's Nic Toki.
Be inspired by Aotearoa’s best nest-makers and build the most humungosauraus, or the most infinitesimal, or the craziest, craftiest nest around.
What to do
Your mission is:
1. MASTER BUILDER
Before you begin check out this video of Sir David Attenborough hanging out with the world champion of nest builders: the sociable weaver from Africa. This nest has it all: engineering, design and it's a major party zone to boot!
2. NZ'S BEST NEST
Then check out the 'what's happening' and 'inspiration' tabs and get inspired by NZ nature's best nesters! How will yours hold up?
Swallows use saliva to help stick it together. Will yours be cosy like a kōkako's (pictured), tangled like a tūi's or just a pile of poo like a tākapu's (gannet's)!?
3. GATHER THE GOODS
Get your bird-brain ticking over and hunt around your home, yard or local park for nesting materials – then start building! You could think small like a riroriro (grey warbler): cotton balls, wool or shredded paper, of think big like a giant moa: fallen branches or mowed grass can do the trick.
This strange creature (pictured) has laid a rugby ball! Perhaps's she's a new species unknown to science?
4. GUESTS IN YOUR NEST
Take some family photos of your finished nest showing how you’ve put it together and who fits inside!!
If your nest is moa or sociable weaver-sized, then get in the photo with you or your nestling friends to demonstrate the scale!
5. TERRIFIC AND TINY
Your nest doesn't have to have enough room for a morepork to swing a mouse, it could be tiny and intricate and magnificently mini. The world's tiniest bird is the bee hummingbird.
The most miniature bird in NZ is the rifleman (titi-pounamu) which look like tiny green flying eggs. Apparently they only need a couple of inches of floor space to lay their eggs. Would they have wing room in these nests?
6. NEST TEST
If you've constructed a nest off the ground, have a go at adding some weight into it – you may like to use small rocks or chicken eggs or build a bird that could mimic a real bird sitting on the nest feeding its chicks. How your nest is constructed is important to how many eggs and chicks it can hold and how big your adult bird is – because those hungry chicks will grow fast!
7. UPLOAD FOR WILD EYES!
UPLOAD a photo of your brilliant bird engineering and earn points to get you to the next level and make the eyes on your wild eyes avatar go wilder and wilder!
WILD WEATHER TIP
If the weather is stink, head inside and make a nest from cushions, blankets and other stuff lying around your house.
WHY THE NEST QUEST?
Birds nest for the same reason we live in houses: to provide a safe and sheltered place to raise a family! And just like humans live in all sorts of different houses, birds use all sorts of nest designs. Some even have a roof, like the riroriro / grey warbler’s crib (pictured)!
Not all riroriro nests have a roof – perhaps this one is the convertible version?
Birds use twigs, leaves, grass, yarn, hair, feathers, moss, pine needles, mud, pebbles, straw, shredded paper, cotton balls and spider webs! They also use human-made things things like paper, string, plastics: anything that they can pick up and carry.
In Mexico these birds pick up discarded cigarettes for their nests. Sounds pretty gross but scientists reckon the chemicals in the ciggies keep out mites!
TREE TOPS ARE TOPS
One of the reasons that some native birds like tūi and riririro have survived ok is their nests are often high up in trees (away from cats and rats) and hard to get to.
For others like kākā, tīeke or kārearea, nest sites like rotting trunks or rocky ledges that were awesomely camouflaged from airborne threats, were now awesomely accessible to the new predators like stoats and rats.