A Feat of Engineering That Doubles as a Home

From The New York Times:

REFE-popup I live in a nice clapboard house and work in a gleaming steel-and-glass skyscraper, but after reading “Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer and Build” I feel cheated. I’ll never get to enjoy the comforts of the nest of a long-tailed tit. As Peter Goodfellow, the book’s author, points out, the dome-shaped nest is one of the most beautiful and skillful constructions in the animal kingdom. The average one contains a couple of hundred sprigs of moss and several thousand lichen flakes, woven together with purloined spider silk and lined with feathers. A nice place for a nap, if you are six inches long.

“It’s an amazing creation,” Mr. Goodfellow, who has had the pleasure of watching long-tailed tits nest in his garden in Plymouth, England, said in a telephone interview. “What’s doubly astonishing is that they use it just once.” Mr. Goodfellow is a retired teacher of English language and literature and a lifelong bird-watcher, although he takes his bird-watching only so far. “I’ve never actually gotten into the work of the scientist, who might well watch for a whole day or week while a bird makes a nest,” he said. “I’ve never had that deep science bent that’s made me sit down to do that sort of thing. I enjoy the reading and the writing.” He first had the idea to write about nests 35 years ago, and the result was a book called “Birds as Builders.” This time, Mr. Goodfellow adds “designer” and “engineer” to the job description, and that does not seem at all like a stretch.

More here.