Birds That Nest On Ground

Just like the creatures who build them, bird nests are diverse. They might be as skillfully crafted and complex as an item of exquisite jewelry (I see you, hummingbirds and orioles).

They can resemble your hair when you wake up late for work or be huge and heavy, expertly disguised, or messy. We’ll talk about ground nesting birds, or birds that lay their eggs on the ground, in this article.

There are many different types of nests, and ground nests are only one of them. Each type of nest has a different design. Some are constructed in gravel driveways, while others are well-known cup nests. Some are simply dirt spots that have been scraped out. Various designs for a variety of species’ requirements.

That’s accurate. These nests are not constructed by just one sort of bird, such a species without wings.

That would be a logical assumption, yet

A nest on the ground does not always mean it was built by a species that cannot fly.

This article will serve as a useful foundation to help you determine what group a potential ground nest may be from and which subgroup within the main group it may belong to.

Let’s begin!


Although they are technically shorebirds, these birds are frequently observed building their nests in gravel far from any natural bodies of water. However, they are not opposed to removing a portion of a field or pasture (livestock owners will see this a lot.)

When choosing a nest location, the mating couple engages in a scrape ceremony and frequently mates immediately away. These creatures enjoy nesting on gravel or adding gravel to their scrape, as was previously indicated. In fact, a research found that they favor light-colored rocks for their nests rather than dark ones.

At my place of employment, I saw Killdeer pacing the sizable gravel parking lot. They almost lay their eggs in the open, and you can bet a mother or a father will be there to warn you if you approach too close to a nest. They’ll oftentimes even physically eject you. I’ve experienced it before!


Flamingos nest on the ground. It does this by laying its eggs on the ground and sitting on them to tend to them. In addition, it will look for its young by feeding them, caring for their eggs, and shielding them from danger until they are old enough to leave.

They construct nests out of mud or shallow water that are lined with vegetation like grasses or sedges.


These enormous wading birds build their nests in earth crevices and have magnificent beaks. Their stunning camouflaged plumage helps to hide them from potential predators. Only a few hours after hatching, the chicks are able to run. This species is classified as red-listed, the highest priority for conservation, due to its widespread danger.


A group of birds that reside close to coastal marshes and shorelines are referred to as shorebirds. Despite being frequently used interchangeably with wading birds, shorebirds also include non-wading species that reside close to coastlines and mudflats.

Avocets, terns, gulls, sandpipers, stilts, plovers, puffins, and penguins are examples of shorebirds.

Most shorebirds travel south for the winter to more temperate regions, although they can also be often seen along rocky or sandy shorelines and shallow waterways.

The group of shorebirds includes some of the longest-migrating species. On the other side of the planet, these birds spend the summer in tropical surroundings while wintering in Arctic or sub-Arctic habitats.

Due to the low growth of trees in their native environments, the majority of shorebirds that nest on the ground do so. They consequently adapted to constructing nests on rocky or sandy soils.

American Avocet

American avocet males direct his ladies to scavenge for a good nesting location on the ground. Together, the men and females construct a nest, which is often found on islands or dikes. They assemble their nest on the ground, filling the depression with pebbles, vegetables, grass, or other materials.

When water is threatened or incubation is occurring, the liner is required. The fact that American avocets engage in “brood parasitism,” or the practice of laying eggs on the nests of other birds, is unique. Within 24 hours, the hatchlings depart the nest.

Virginia Rail

This wading bird weaves sedges, cattails, and fine grass into a bowl-shaped nest from marshy materials. They are often found near the foot of higher vegetation, such as bulrush or needlerush. Here, the ground is frequently quite wet, and water can reach depths of up to an inch.

The ground-nesting Virginia Rail bird is one such species. On or on the boundaries of wetlands like streams, ponds, marshes, flooded fields, and bogs, it breeds in the spring and summer. They construct their nests on elevated areas, like as rocks or earthen mounds, at ground level.

Sandhill Crane

For many reasons, Sandhill Cranes choose to build their nests on the sand. One explanation is that they choose soft ground because it provides the eggs and chicks with more stability.

They do not have many predators in these places, which is another factor. In order to prevent getting their eggs wet during rain, they also choose areas with adequate drainage.


often referred to as “peewits” because of the cries they make during swooping display flights. Over the last several decades, breeding lapwings have seen widespread and noticeable decreases in the UK, which has increased the importance of the country’s woods for them. This species is red-listed and considered endangered on a worldwide scale.

Game Birds

Any number of birds that people have historically used as food hunters are considered game birds. The game bird group includes the following species: quail, partridge, pheasants, turkeys, grouse, and guineafowl. Since the majority of game birds cannot fly well enough to construct tree nests, they almost all lay their eggs on the ground.

The majority of game birds spend the entire year in their nesting grounds and do not migrate. Some game birds build their nests outside, while others build them inside inside shelters. Furthermore, certain game birds now reside on controlled estates as a result of their usage in sport shooting.

Groundskeepers make sure that game birds reproduce frequently enough to maintain a steady population for future hunting. A sizable commercial sector that breeds game birds for mass consumption also exists. Nevertheless, a lot of game birds are still found in the wild.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted sandpipers can be found alone or in couples along the shores of lakes, streams, and rivers.
They build a 2-3 inch deep nest within 100 yards of the water’s edge since their habitat is near water.

Although they prefer to construct their home under dense foliage because of predators, their nest is really located beneath a broad-leafed plant. They often build their nests in colonies of Common Terns.

Canada Goose

Many curious children have been scared away from these big, well-known birds’ nests when they have gone too close. Lichens, moss, grass, and other plant components are used by Canada Geese to construct their cup nests. They can see their environment clearly and are situated near bodies of water.


Oystercatchers are shorebirds, and they construct their nests on the ground like other ground-nesting birds do. They normally build a straightforward cup-shaped nest with an entrance using wood or grass. It is typically discovered in wide, flat places near water where it may avoid predators like foxes and cats that would destroy its eggs.


These elusive and unusual birds construct their nests in heather and the forest’s regions with downed trees. The greatest times to view and hear woodlarks singing are in the early morning hours of February and March.

25% of the UK’s population of these birds may be found in Thetford Forest, making it a notable location. 16% of UK residents live in the New Forest.


Several kinds of aquatic birds, especially swimming game birds, are referred to as waterfowl. The term “waterfowl” refers to a group of animals that includes ducks, geese, and swans. The majority of ducks nest on the ground and are found close to wetlands.

Since their hatchlings are precocial, they frequently construct their nests close to bodies of water. This indicates that newborn ducks can move about and care for themselves soon after they hatch.

As a result, ducks lack a biological reason to construct their nests high in trees or at altitudes where they can keep their young safe from predators. Many species move to warmer climates after the reproductive season, returning in the spring when the temperature warms up.

Trumpeter Swan

Within 600 feet of their coast, trumpeter swans build their nests. They frequently pick locations near bodies of water for their nests. Both sexes gather supplies for the nest’s building. They construct nests utilizing beaver dens, beaver dams, tiny islands, artificial objects. You can observe that they consistently use a nest.

Females construct a bowl-shaped nest using their bodies and bills. Feathers can be seen in the bowl’s interior. A nest takes 14 to 35 days to build. This earth nest is 11 feet in width and 3 feet in height. The bowl size is 10-16 inches wide and 4-8 inches deep.

American Wigeons

Unlike a lot of other waterfowl, these birds prefer to seek nest locations that are on dry land and somewhat far away from water (40-1000 ft) (40-1000 ft.)

They will lay their eggs in pastures and grasslands with tall grasses or bushes. Female American Wigeons will dig a hole in the ground and line it with grasses, marsh plants like reeds and cattails, and down feathers.

Game birds are made of of species that can fly only moderately well. Although many of these species enjoy isolation and decent cover, that isn’t always true for all of them.


One kind of bird that prefers to nest on the ground is the plover. Plovers avoid trees because they don’t feel comfortable there, contrary to popular belief that birds choose trees as places to build their eggs. They will establish their house in a suitable area, such as a large open area or the sand near the ocean.


Nightjars can be found on heathland, close to the boundaries of wooded areas, and in freshly cleared forest when they migrate from Africa to breed in the UK. A bastion for nightjars in the UK, the New Forest is home to 15% of the country’s population. With 11% of the UK’s population, Thetford Forest also has a sizeable population.


Any of the more than 5000 distinct species of perching birds are considered songbirds. Some songbirds build their nests on the ground, despite the fact that most songbirds do so in trees.

These include certain species of sparrow and warbler as well as hermit thrushes, bobolinks, larks, and meadowlarks. Songbirds typically construct their nests in trees to shield them from predators.

Before they can leave the nest and take care of themselves, songbird hatchlings must stay there for several days or weeks. The majority of songbirds construct their nests away from predators at high elevations since they are unable to take care of themselves.

Songbirds that construct their nests on the ground, however, have discovered an alternative method of protecting their young.

American Black Duck

Is it true that birds require a basin? The female American black duck creates a basin that is 1.5 inches deep and 7-8 inches across. The female is also in charge of selecting the nesting location and gathering the materials for lining the hole. Females typically prefer to choose a well-hidden spot, a shrubby region, or a brush pile to build their nests.

She uses her legs to excavate the nest’s foundation. She embellishes the nest with twigs, tiny leaves, and stems throughout the egg-laying time. She begins constructing the nest with feathers after depositing four to five eggs so as not to damage them.

Scaled Quail

These birds make their nests on the ground, although they prefer to do it in an area with shelter, such as in small trees, bushes, cacti, or yucca plants. In certain cases, if a farm is nearby, they will build their nests under the machinery. The nest is basic and is comprised of leaves and grass, created to be wide and shallow.


While some people may find it unusual that stilts construct their nests on the ground, this behavior is really a kind of adaptation that has allowed them to live for thousands of years. The sticks or leaves used to construct these nests offer the stilts shelter from the weather as well as from potential predators.


The bogs and mires are where you may find this little wader. They take off quickly in a zigzag manner when startled. Drumming, or the sound of the bird’s outer tail feathers vibrating in the air as it swoops down, is a characteristic of their high show flights. The chicks are designed to bury themselves in the earth (pictured).

California Quail

Because the clutches of California quail are bigger than those of other birds, they exhibit egg-dumping behavior (laying eggs on other birds’ nests). You can discover 28 eggs in a quail nest.

They construct their nests 10 inches above the ground, and both men and females participate in the process. 5-7 inches wide and 1-2 inches deep is how big it is. They often pick a spot behind bushes, trees, or past grasslands.


This nightjar raises the bar for simplicity. Their nests are nothing more than a tiny crater in the earth. No arranging of pebbles or dirt, or creating of plant materials. Regardless of whether the ground is made of sand, stone, or leaf litter, they will just lay their eggs there.

Most often found in the eastern part of the nation, the whip-poor-will has been experiencing a decline in population recently. They are well known for their songs about the summer that resemble “Whip-poor-will.”

Ruffed Grouse

The Ruffed Grouse is a medium-sized grouse and one of North America’s most common birds. They like to build their nests on the ground, occasionally within a few feet from an open clearing, under bushes or small trees. These grouse will normally have two clutches each year, resulting in an average of 8 eggs per clutch.

Eastern Wild Turkey

Eastern wild turkey nests are typically found in mounds of dead animals under trees and shrubs. They can fly a bit, but they prefer to construct their nests on the ground. Females shoulder all duties, including lining the walls, planning, and scrubbing the ground.

1 inch deep, 9 to 13 inches long, and 8 to 11 inches broad are the dimensions. The process of incubation continues after the last egg is deposited.

Common Tern

These teenagers will select regions with little vegetation in order to offer cover for their chicks. On sand, gravel, and shells extremely close to the sea, they will build colonies of nests.

In addition to dead vegetation that has washed up on the coast, they will also scatter shells, stones, and pieces of bone into a scrape on the ground. Sadly, even plastic has been discovered within their nests. The parents will add extra plant or bone pieces to the nest to elevate it if the waters start to rise too high and threaten to overwhelm it.