My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Fishing for an Oriole Nest

On many occasions I have found birds using human made materials for and with their nest. Many of our nest boxes are not natural but made specifically for the birds to use. Other birds will pick up specific items for attracting the female into their territory like the Bowerbird (from Australia). They will take anything that is blue in coloring and build this elaborate structure and hope the female chooses his territory to build her nest. Then you can have many of our local birds will collect items for their nest like dryer lint, pet hair and even some string from your table cloth. One of these birds you might catching taking some of these items would be the Oriole!

Strange Nest

The Baltimore Oriole builds its nest suspended in the fork of the tree around 25-30 feet up. They build at the end of the branch and will construct the nest with a deep pouch. They use many products like bark, fine vines, grasses, hair, string, yarn and anything else they can find that will assist in weaving their nest together. This sometimes can include fishing line along the waters edge. The photo above shows an old oriole nest that was mainly constructed with your all typical fishing line. This line was very brittle and probably a few years old but still holding the structure together perfectly. While holding it closely, you can still see some of the old decomposed material that at one time was also used in the construction of this nest. I strongly suspect that this nest was built by the Baltimore Oriole because of its big pouch, intense weaving and how its positioned on the brance.

baltimore oriole

Although this unique nest (found by a park employee) was blog worthy to me; I strongly suggest that any fishing wire found on the ground should be picked up immediately. I regularly find dead birds hanging from a bridge or limping because some twine accidentally got it tied around their legs. Many other animals besides birds can also have problems when this fishing lines and will get twisted around their body. Infection and lost of body parts can happen due to the strength of the twine. I know that sometimes it is impossible to pick up every bit of trash you find laying around but I always make an extra effort in picking it up every time I come across fishing line strung about. There is a wonderful story on NPR talking about some cleaning up Fishing Debris along beaches in California |CLICK HERE|.

fishing line nest

Side view of the fishing line nest!


19 responses

  1. Glad the birdies didn’t get hurt using this! Yup, I witnessed you picking up garbage, practicing what you preach!

    13 June 2007 at 9:44 pm

  2. Just yesterday I read that Orioles nest near water so now I know why I haven’t seen any…? The closest large body of water is Lake Norman – about 15 miles from here. Good lesson. Great photo of odd nesting material.

    13 June 2007 at 9:49 pm

  3. Your advice about picking up old fishing line is smart. In fact I think I read somewhere that if you choose to put out nesting trimmings for the birds (which I did this spring and had it taken and used by a tanager!) that the best things are of natural fibers–cotton, …things that will decompose and become a natural part of their environment.

    13 June 2007 at 10:09 pm

  4. Very interesting post, and certainly some good advice on trash.

    Coincidently, I just loaded a photo of a Western Kingbird nest from my trip onto Flickr . It certainly looks like some human paper/cloth material was used.

    13 June 2007 at 11:34 pm

  5. It’s a miracle that the bird didn’t get hurt in that fisherline nest. Unbelievable.

    14 June 2007 at 12:56 am

  6. Mon@arch – is that picture of the Baltimore oriole a “youngster?” He looks smaller than what I thought was an average size, yet it looks like it is in breeding plumage. Beautiful picture.

    14 June 2007 at 1:48 am

  7. That’s a work of art no doubt, but certainly does not look comfortable. I can’t believe the bird was able to find that much line with which to build. A good reminder to us all Monarch.

    14 June 2007 at 7:02 am

  8. We found a robin dangling from a tree with fishing line around its leg this spring. My husband removed it but the bird’s leg was broken. I couldn’t kill it, but it surely could not survive. Tragic!

    14 June 2007 at 8:23 am

  9. Good advice about fishing line. Lots of creatures get caught up in that stuff and can’t free themselves. It’s really tragic.

    The black-capped chickadees have been back to pull fibers from our natural fiber “welcome” mat. They are doing quite a good job of shredding it. We welcome them to it.

    14 June 2007 at 10:39 am

  10. Nice post! Especially including the warnings on fishing lines. Sometimes I hate hiking through the most popular fishing areas of our parks because it is a constant battle. I’ve tangled myself in it once!
    Nest building has got to be one of the most interesting behaviors to watch–each species is so different. I’ve only seen the Baltimore Oriole in the beginning nest-building stage, but my son was given an oriole nest that blew out of a tree and the craftsmanship is amazing!

    14 June 2007 at 11:13 am

  11. Yikes that’s a lot of fishing line in the nest there! Hope the young ‘uns didn’t strangle themselves. The bowerbird is a fascinating bird – too bad I’d have to fly halfway across the world to see one!

    Thanks for the informative post – good stuff!

    14 June 2007 at 7:01 pm

  12. Great advice about the fishing line – I’ve often wondered why fisherman, supposed lovers of nature, leave so much crap about. I’m not talking about snags hanging over a pond – that’s tough – but just dumped lines, broken lures and other debris. John Heinz NWR is a prime example of how ugly it can get.

    Still, quite incredible to find this nest…

    15 June 2007 at 9:15 am

  13. Bird nests just amaze me–what they can create with only a beak! I always like to see what “human stuff” they incorporate into their nests, but that much fishing line would be alarming. Thanks, Tom, for the reminder about picking up after ourselves and others.

    15 June 2007 at 11:58 pm

  14. What an amazing nest, birds are so intelligent, and creative. Thanks for raising my awareness of the fishing line and twine hazards for birds. There’s a new convert for picking up trash for birds.

    16 June 2007 at 7:45 pm

  15. Thanks everyone for your kind comments! Sorry that I didn’t reply sooner, it has been a busy weekend!

    @ Pam – Very glad they are alright! Don’t pick up as much as I would like though!
    @ Mary – I have seen them in many locations and you should get out to find a few.
    @ Nina – My cat fur is what I put out for my birds this year! Thanks!
    @ N Shutterbug – Thanks and will go check out your photo!
    @ Andy-Kim – I thought the same exact thing!
    @ Mary C. – This was an adult male Oriole!! Thanks
    @ Jayne – I was shocked they found that much line!
    @ Ruth – We have found some birds like that also! So sad to see them like that!
    @ Robin – thanks and it can be bad when thrown away like that! LOL, great to hear about your chickadee’s handy work!
    @ Veery – Thanks and I hate finding it also! The Orioles are great to watch!
    @ Adam – I believe at the time I was built that they also used other vegetation that has decomposed away over time. Probably not as hard for the little ones to have gotten caught in it.
    @ Marty – Not all leave things along but it is my guess that the die-hards don’t do this! That is crazy about the NWR!
    @ Ruthie – Thanks and they are great to watch!
    @ Barb – Glad to have helped pass on the word!

    16 June 2007 at 10:35 pm

  16. Laurie Scott

    We have an Oriole nest in the yard and the baby bird has been hanging from the nest for 3 days. Is his normal? I’m afraid it is caught and can not set itself free. I’m not sure if this is natural or if it is caught. The parents are still feeding it. I feel helpless. Can you suggest something.

    Thank you,

    Laurie Scott

    20 June 2007 at 8:11 am

  17. Laurie Scott – WOW, not really sure what to tell you! Are you able to reach the bird safely? Hmm, I will have to send you an email!

    20 June 2007 at 8:25 am

  18. I still recall vividly the strangest nest I’ve ever seen. It was built by Mourning Doves out of short snippings of stainless steel wire used to secure insulation at a refinery where I was employeed.
    The Doves laid eggs successfully, but though we avoided the area, they eventually abandonded it. They’d located the nest on a steel grid on one of our stairways to the process!

    20 June 2007 at 11:29 pm

  19. As Nature Shutterbug said, Western Kingbirds are getting in on the act too. They’ve nested in one of the blue spruces at work and their nest couldn’t be more obvious with blue fishing line hanging down the side of the tree!

    25 June 2007 at 12:01 am

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