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Genius birds are using anti-bird spikes to create their nests

Genius birds are using anti-bird spikes to create their nests

The birds are using the spikes to ward off predators just like humans have done to them.

You know the saying when life gives you lemons make lemonade?

Well, now we have the bird version: "When life gives you anti-bird spikes, make a nice nest."

In cities around the world, anti-bird spikes are used to protect buildings and statues from birds but now it seems the birds are finally getting their own back.

Wijnand Koekoek/DEINSEA

Dutch researchers have found that some birds are actually taking the anti-bird spikes and placing them around their nests and using them to keep pests away in the same way that humans do.

The research by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Natural History Museum Rotterdam, which was published in DEINSEA last month, is the first well-documented study that says birds appear to be positioning the sharp spikes outwards around the nests to maximise protection.

Biologist Auke-Florian Hiemstra began his research in the courtyard of a hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, where an enormous magpie nest was found containing some 1,500 spikes.

"For the first few minutes, I just stared at it - this strange, beautiful, weird nest," he told the BBC.

A trip to the hospital roof confirmed that about 50m (164 ft) of anti-bird spike strips had been ripped off the building.

"It sounds like a joke," Hiemstra told Scientific American.

"I think it’s so funny that now they’ve started to use these anti-bird spikes in the same way that we intended them to be used."

Max Crawford/DEINSEA

One unfinished nest is at the museum in Rotterdam - and a larger, finished nest is in the collection of Naturalis Biodiversity Center.

"The use of man-made, even sharp materials for nest building in birds is well known," the researchers' paper reads.

"The first report of a crow’s nest made of barbed wire dates back to 1933, and recent (news) reports document the use of e.g. nails, screws, and drug users’ syringes in avian architecture."

However, the use of the anti-bird spikes seems to be more intentional.

"Magpies may use the anti-bird spikes not just as ordinary nest material, but specific placement in the dome, overarching the nest, hints at functional use," the researchers write.

Hiemstra told the BBC the nests were a 'beautiful revenge'.

"They are using the material that we made to keep them away, to make a nest to make more birds."

Featured Image Credit: Garry Bakker/DEINSEA. Auke-Florian Hiemstra/DEINSEA.

Topics: News, Animals