What is a scrape nest?

What is a scrape nest?

Nearly all birds make some kind of nest to lay their eggs in and rear their young. Birds nests range from elaborate baskets weaved in the branches of trees to virtually no work required depressions in the ground.

In this article we look at the simplest of all bird nests: the scrape nest. These fall into the category of the simplest depression nests scraped into the surface of soft ground.

Where Are Scrape Nests Found?

Scrape nests are commonly found on remote sandy beaches, in soft soil etc. The scrape nest gets its name from the way the nest is built by scraping the surface of the sand/soil just deep enough to prevent the eggs from rolling away.

There are some problems associated with scrape nests which include; predator vulnerability and issues relating to temperature for the unhatched eggs.

In deserts and salt flats the temperature can rise so high that the developing embryos are killed due to excessive heat. In these areas, the scrape is shallower and lined with shells, stones, feathers, soil and sticks in an effort to keep the eggs cool enough and protected from extreme heat.

In arctic areas, the scrape has to be deep enough to protect the eggs from cold temperatures caused by the icy winds, but shallow enough to protect the eggs from the permafrost. These scrape nests are often lined with local vegetation, and feathers to help insulate from the excessively cold temperatures.

What Do Scrape Nests Look Like?

Scrape nests are typically slight depressions in the ground just deep enough to prevent the eggs from rolling away. Many scrape nests have a slight rim and some have feathers, shells, stones or leaves added to the scrape.

The eggs found in scrape nests tend to be camouflaged to blend in with the surrounding soil or sand. This is because scrape nests are vulnerable to predators. Eggs tend to be speckled to resemble the ground the nests are on.

Who Builds Scrape Nests?

Scrape nests are typically built by;

  • Ostriches
  • Gulls
  • Terns
  • Falcons
  • Pheasants
  • Quail
  • Partridges
  • Nighthawks
  • Vultures
  • Bustards
  • Canada Geese
  • Mallards
  • Sand Grouse
  • And Others

Birds that build scrape nests tend to have young that are able to leave the nest soon after hatching. Young mallards for example typically leave the nest just 10 hours after hatching.

How Are Scrape Nests Built?

The techniques used to build scrape nests varies from species to species. Some beach nesting birds like terns for example,shape the scrape nest by rocking their bodies on the sand in the position they want the nest to be established.

Whilst others scrape the loose soil or sand using their feet like the ostrich.

There are some species that leave the eggs virtually on the surface of the sand/soil in the scrape nest whereas others like the Egyptian Plover, partially bury their eggs in the sand of their scrapes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a scrape nest?

A scrape nest is a bird’s nest that is formed in sand or loose soil by the bird scraping the soil/sand away to create a small depression just large enough to prevent the eggs from rolling away.

Which birds make scrape nests?

There are many species of birds that make scrape nests including; ostriches, gulls, terns, pheasants, partridges, quail, falcons, mallards, Canada geese, vultures, nighthawks and sand grouse.

Where are scrape nests found?

Scrape nests are found in many areas including beaches, loose soil, deserts and arctic tundras.