Birds colour-match their nests

Journal name:
Date published:
Published online

Andrew Walmsley/Nature Picture Library

Zebra finches seem to actively camouflage their nests when building them.

Many birds' nests appear camouflaged, but this could be a serendipitous result of their use of local materials. Ida Bailey at the University of St Andrews, UK, and her team let 20 male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata; pictured) choose between two types of paper strip when building their nests: one matching the cage colour and the other contrasting. Of the birds, 14 predominantly chose the colour that matched the cage decor.

This is the first experimental evidence that birds choose to camouflage their nests, say the authors.

The Auk 132, 1115 (2015)


  1. Report this comment #64341

    ?? ? said:

    Very interesting experiment. But I still have a question.
    How can the author ascertain that the preference of nest material's color is a behavior of camouflage. it might just be a preference of color when they live in a certain background. The authors should do control experiment to show these birds do not have these preferences on food and toys.
    And if it is really a behavior of camouflage, the author should also observe an alternative phenomenon, that the bird could choose the background. If they are placed in a big room with walls of different colors, they will choose which wall to build their nest according to the provided materials.

Subscribe to comments

Additional data