Student Bird Research


The Insulative Properties of Birds' Nests
by Jesse Cole

Jesse Cole graduated from White Plains High School in 2011. He did this research in its Authentic Science Research Program. 

May 2011

Abstract This study will examine the insulative effectiveness of bird’s nests from Mockingbirds, Bluebirds, Red Winged Blackbirds, and Tree Swallows. The idea of the study is based on biomimicry, a field of science which studies the use of nature to find solutions to man-made problems. While many studies have examined the physical characteristics of bird’s nests, very few have examined the materials that the nests are built out of and how effective those nests are as insulators. This study hopes to examine that void. Eight different nests were utilized, two from each species of bird listed above. The nests were weighed initially for their total mass. Then, their surface area, volume, and percent by mass composition of the materials that made up the nest were measured. Approximate r-values were taken from an online table.(1) The percent by volume of the nests were calculated and the composite r-values of the nests were calculated. The specific r value per thickness of each nest was calculated. This study hopes to develop an effective and natural alternative to modern man-made insulation through the utilization of the material composition of the bird’s nests. Results demonstrate that the nests used were less effective insulators than fiberglass.

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