The birds strike back! Ravens and magpies use bird spikes to build their nests, according to a study
- Eurasian magpies have been found to steal bird spikes from the roofs of buildings
- A magpie had stolen 1,500 pins to protect their nests from lurking predators
- Barbed wire and knitting needles were also among the construction materials used.
Roof tops have long been used by humans to keep birds at bay.
But it seems that the crows and magpies are not so afraid, having stolen countless sharp pieces of metal to build their own fortified nests.
Experts from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands and the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam made the startling discovery that birds use the tips of their roofs to ward off predators.
His investigation took off unexpectedly in the courtyard of a hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, where onlookers saw a bird’s nest made up of 1,500 metal spikes.
It’s unclear how the birds latch on to the quills without getting hurt, though MailOnline has contacted the researchers for more information.
A magpie had stolen 1,500 pins to protect its nests from predators lurking in the courtyard of a hospital in Antwerp, Belgium (pictured)
“An impregnable fortress,” said Auke-Florian Hiemstra of Naturalis. “Because the magpies seem to be using the pins in exactly the same way that we are: to keep other birds away from their nest.”
This Eurasian magpie nest was by no means the only example of this, with others already seen in Glasgow and Enschede in the Netherlands.
Carrion crows also exhibited similar behaviors near Rotterdam Central Station, placing a series of spiky objects on a weeping willow tree.
While ravens were seen to use these sharp objects as nesting material, magpies appeared to set up spikes in a way that surpassed their “dome” nests.
This indicates that magpies primarily use beaks for the functional purpose of scaring weasels and other birds.
Barbed wire and even knitting needles were also among the objects used by magpies, as a way of protecting their nest roofs.
Hiemstra is frequently found including condoms and fireworks, along with cocaine wrappers, sunglasses, and even windshield wipers.
“It’s like a joke, really,” Hiemstra continued. “Even for me as a nest researcher, these are the craziest bird nests I’ve ever seen.”
Auke-Florian Hiemstra (pictured) said: “Because magpies seem to be using pins in exactly the same way we are: to keep other birds away from their nest.”
Antwerp nest close-up: a crafty magpie had stolen up to 150 feet of anti-bird pins from nearby rooftops to protect its eggs and babies from being snatched away
Hiemstra even frequently finds condoms and fireworks in the magpies’ nests, along with cocaine wrappers, sunglasses, and even windshield wipers.
Kees Moeliker, director of the museum, added: “Just when you think you’ve seen it all after half a century of studying natural history, these clever crows and magpies really surprise me again.”
The Antwerp magpie nest is now on display in the Naturalis Live Science hall in Leiden.
While birds’ lack of fear of quills isn’t a new concept, experts say theirs is the first scientific publication to put this into words.
This also comes just days after a group of European scientists discovered that 176 bird species were using human-made materials to build nests.
This study, led by the University of Warsaw, found that litter-scavenging behavior was particularly widespread among seagulls, ducks, and many birds of prey on every continent except Antarctica.
“Many birds of prey, including raptors, gulls, and pigeons, are adapted to urban areas and breed successfully in urban landscapes where man-made materials are readily available,” the team wrote in The conversation.
“The extent to which birds adapt to polluted environments remains underestimated because a study like ours is only as good as the data available.”