10 Birds That Build Mud Nests (with Images)

Some birds build their nests with twigs and sticks, some birds build their nests from weeds and straw, and some birds build their nest with mud.

In this article, I will cover 10 fascinating birds that use mud to make their homes (mud nests). I have also tried to add images on these birds with their mud nests.

American Flamingo

The nest of the American flamingo is a mound of mud about 12 inches (30 cm) tall, but it is built with care.

American Flamingo Mudnest

These marshland birds build their nests high enough to protect their eggs and their hatchlings from floods and intense heat at ground level.

A single egg is guarded by both of its parents, which are large enough to protect it from marsupials, raccoons, and snakes.

The American flamingo is the only flamingo that is native to North America. It ranges through extreme south Florida and Cameron Parish in Louisiana.

There are also American flamingos in the Caribbean (where they are known as Caribbean flamingos), on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, in northern South America, and on the Galapagos Islands.

It’s hard to miss them if you go out birdwatching. American flamingos have feathers in bright red, orange, and pink colors.

American flamingos often nest as threesomes, with one male and two females.

The male is friendly with both females, but the subordinate female fights with the dominant female for attention.

Sometimes, American flamingos live in foursomes, with the subordinate male forced to stay around the edge of the nest.

Chicks leave the nest after 7 to 11 days, but their parent group feeds them at night for three to four months.

Also read: Flamingo Adaptations – All You Need To Know


Apostlebirds live in family groups in the grasslands of eastern Australia.

Apostlebird Mud nest

When mating season comes, groups of up to 10 apostlebirds build huge nests of mud in the highest trees they can find.

They prefer to lay their eggs in nests 9 to 60 feet (3 to 20 meters) above the ground.

Every family group of apostlebirds consists of one dominant male, several females, and helpers, usually the last year’s young.

All the adults in the group take turns incubating the eggs, and adults and helpers alike take turns feeding the fledglings once they hatch.

Each group of 10 birds raises just 3 or 4 baby birds, although they may raise two broods in a year if weather conditions are right.

Apostlebirds can be very tame. They join with backyard chickens, and seem to enjoy attention from birdwatchers.

Nesting is the only time that apostlebirds use their flying abilities. Most of the time, they are visible on the ground.

Barn Swallow

As the name suggests, barn swallows like to build their mud nests in the protected eaves of barns.

Barn Swallow Mud nest

Barn swallows live in close association with humans, and their insect-eating habits make them welcome on farms and in backyard gardens.

Barn swallows mix mud with grass to make pellets they stick together in a cup shape for their nests.

They prefer to build on top of sturdy beams, but they will build a vertical nest against a wall if it offers better protection against predators and the weather.

Before humans started building barns, barn swallows built their nests on cliffsides.

Since they learned to build their nests in human-built structures, they have spread all over the world except for the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

They have become the world’s most widely distributed passerine (perching) bird.

Barn swallows line their nests with feathers and then add materials they steal from other birds’ nests.

They will rescue an old nest if it is not infested with parasites. The cup-shaped mud nest of the barn swallow is about 2 inches (5 cm) tall and 3 inches (8 cm) across.

Each clutch contains 2 to 7 (but usually 4 or 5) white eggs with red spots. Barn swallows mate for life, but the males are prone to wander to other nests for occasional sexual connections with females that are not their mates.

Black Phoebe

Black phoebes are flycatchers. They range across the western United States and western Mexico wherever they can find a steady supply of flies, with the mud they need to build their nests.

Black Phoebe mud nest

When flies are in short supply, they will dine on small fish, even feeding them to their fledglings in the nest.

Black phoebes use mud to build cup-shaped nests against culverts, bridges, walls, and overhangs.

They don’t compete with backyard birds at the birdseed feeder, although they may visit a platform tray if you put out mealworms.

At the beginning of the mating season, the male black phoebe scouts out several possible nesting sites, and then shows them to the female.

The female decides where to build, and does most of the work. Black phoebes have been known to share their nest with finches, with the two females taking turns sitting on the eggs until they hatch.

You can recognize black phoebes when you go birdwatching by the fact that they wag their tails.

They spread out their tail feathers as they lower their tails to appear larger and more likely to fight when they are approached by predators.

Black-Billed Magpie

Black-billed magpies are impossible to ignore in their native range in the American West.

Black-Billed Magpie mud nest

They build nests “the size of bushel baskets,” or actually considerably larger, about 3 feet (1 meter) across.

These nests rest on sturdy limbs of trees 5 to 60 feet (1.5 to 20 meters) above the ground, on a base of mud or manure.

Black-billed magpies are the only North American bird that builds a domed nest, covered on top, with entrances on the sides.

They sometimes build new nests on top of old nests, so their nest can be up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and 40 inches (1.05 meters) wide.

Black-billed magpies mate for life, but about 10 percent of pairings end in “divorce.”

The female black-billed magpie lays six or seven and up to 13 eggs and sits on them for 16 to 21 days, while the male brings her food.

Both parents take care of the hatchlings and fledglings until they are ready to fly off to join other young magpies, when they are about two months old.

Black-billed magpies are famous for feeding on the insects that land on the backs of buffalos.

They are not appreciated for their habit of stealing food from other birds and from outdoor dog and cat food bowls.

Cliff Swallow

Cliff swallows build uniquely gourd-shaped nests from mud.

Cliff Swallow mud nest

Every cliff swallow’s nest has a tiny entrance hole to keep predators out, and hangs on a vertical surface.

Dozens of cliff swallows will build their nests in the same location on a cliff or under a bridge.

Mating pairs are monogamous, although cliff swallows use their neighbors to help raise their chicks.

Cliff swallows catch insects flying 50 to 200 feet (16 to 64 meters) above the ground.

They fly as far as 10 miles (16 km) from their nests to catch bugs to build up energy for the cold, rainy days when food is not available.

Cliff swallows have a vocal language they use to tell other cliff swallows where to find food and how to avoid predators.

Common House Martin

Common house martins are people-loving bird that ranges across most of Europe and Africa.

Common House Martin mud nest

They once built their nests in caves or on cliffs, but now they prefer to construct their nests of mud under bridges and on the sides of houses.

Unlike the barn swallows with whom they often mate, common house martins live on the outside of human habitations, not inside them.

Sometimes thousands of pairs of common house martins build nests in the same place.

Usually, however, there are no more than 10 nests in the same location.

Sparrows often try to take over a nest while the mating pair of common house martins are building it, but the entrance to the completed common house martin is so small that a sparrow cannot get inside.

If the sparrow manages to take over the nest while it is still under construction, the common house martins will abandon it.

The common house martin hunts for insects at an average height of about 20 feet (6 meters) above open fields and pastures.

They feed on aphids, grasshoppers, and flying ants. Common house martins prefer to catch insects over open water, but they will follow farm tractors to catch the insects disturbed by the plows.

Young adult birds sometimes fly back to the nest during their first year of life to help feed their younger siblings.

Morning Thrush

Morning thrushes are East African birds that build mud nests, but they are more famous for their singing ability.

Morning Thrush mud nest

They are capable of singing rollicking, whistling, whimsical duets, incorporating the songs of other birds into their melodies.

The morning thrush feeds on the ground, but builds its nest on tree limbs 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) above the ground for safety.

They incorporate rootlets and fibrous bark into mud pellets to give their nests a sturdy framework.

Purple Martin

Purple martins are popular birds that often live in houses.

In their natural state, however, they build nests of straw, bark, small twigs, and mud, and line them with soft grasses.

Purple Martin mud nest

The younger the bird, the sparser the building materials it uses for building its nest of mostly mud. Purple martins gain nest-building skills as they mature.

Purple martins differ from many other birds in that they like to build their nests inside artificial structures.

They can build a nest inside a dry gourd, but they prefer nesting inside martin houses.

The first layer of their nest is mud with a mixture of twigs, pebbles, and occasionally snail shells. The second layer is made of grass with small twigs, and the third layer is made of soft leaves.

Purple martin parents take turns incubating the four to six eggs the female lays in the nest, although the male spends most of the time hunting for food for both of them.

Both parents feed the young for about a month, until they are ready to fly off on their own.

One of the reasons so many people enjoy having purple martin houses is that the same birds will come back year after year, even though they fly to the opposite side of the equator for the winter.

This quality of purple martins was even recognized by Native Americans hundreds of years ago, who told stories about how the purple martins would return to the same gourd hung up for them every year.

White-Winged Chough

White-winged choughs are one of two birds in Australia that build their nests with mud.

White-Winged Chough mud nest

The other is the apostlebird, which we have already mentioned in this article. White-winged choughs are often mistaken for crows, even though there are no crows in Australia. There are only ravens.

These birds are only distantly related to the choughs in Europe.

These birds of the East Australian grasslands walk with a swagger in groups, foraging on the ground for snails, insects, worms, termites, beetles, and seeds.

They seldom fly unless they feel threatened. Groups of four to 20 white-winged choughs live together. They are usually all the offspring of a single pair.

Like apostlebirds, white-winged choughs are communal nesters.

They build a large, communal nest of grasses held together with mud or manure as much as 30 feet (10 meters) above the ground, in the fork of a tree. Choughs will sometimes kidnap the hatchlings of other families to recruit them to join the work of raising their babies.

Every member of the chough family takes turns incubating the eggs. They all bring food back to the nest to feed the babies when they have hatched.

Some young birds, however, will only pretend to feed their newly hatched siblings and then secretly eat the food themselves. This behavior is rare when food is abundant.

All of the white-winged choughs in the family will defend their young against predators.

During drought, however, they may kill the hatchlings of a neighboring family of choughs to save food for themselves.

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