Animals that build homes

    Animals such as antelopes, bison and elephants which roam the wide plains do not have a settled home. Birds and many insects construct temporary homes in which to lay their eggs and rear their young. Some animals build permanent homes for themselves, often with great skill. This skill is not something they learn, but is born in them, and is part of that mysterious quality known as instinct.
   Only a few mammals build homes, and they are mostly the smaller creatures, which construct burrows underground. Often these underground homes are for more than one family. For example, marmots, living mostly in mountain districts, form colonies of 10 to 15 animals. Prairie dogs, found in North America, have similar-sized colonies, but link them together to form large 'towns'. Badgers and foxes are among the larger mammals that tunnel into the ground to make their homes.

The Nest Builders
    Some other small mammals, such as mice and squirrels, build nests. These nests are not unlike the nests of birds, and are constructed by weaving together twigs, stalks and pieces of leaves.
The best-known home builders are birds. Most of them build afresh every year, but some, such as the white stork of Europe, merely clean up and repair the same nests year after year.
   Nest-building techniques vary a great deal. Birds whose young are born with feathers and can leave the nest almost at once make very simple nests. Swans and ducks do this. Most chicks, however, are helpless to begin with and need a warm, secure place to grow up in.
   Birds use a great variety of materials, often whatever is handy. A sparrow in Switzerland, home of the watch industry, even built a nest entirely of watch springs! Tailorbirds stitch the large leaves of trees or shrubs together to form a bag, which they line with soft materials. Storks use large twigs, often reinforced with rags, straw and mud. Mud is the main material used by swallows, swifts and martins. Woodpeckers, with their chisel-like beaks, make holes in tree-trunks.
   A few fishes, such as salmon and sticklebacks, build nests to lay their eggs in, but the jawfishes build actual homes: deep wells lined with pebbles, where they lie in wait for their prey.