If you were a bird and were going to build a nest, where would you put it? At the end of a row of your brothers’ nests, as the Eave Swallows do? Or would that be too much like living in a row of brick houses in the city? Chipping Sparrows don’t like to live too close to their next door neighbors. They don’t mind if a Robin is in the same tree, on another bough, but they want their own branch all to themselves.
And they want it to be a branch, too. Other birds may build their nests on the ground, or burrow in the ground, or dig holes in
tree trunks, or even hang their nests down inside dark chimneys if they like, but Chippy doesn't think much of such places. He wants plenty of daylight and fresh air. But even if you have made up your mind to build on a branch, think how many nice trees and bushes there are to choose from, and how hard it must be to decide on one. You’d have to think a long time and look in a great many places. You see you want the safest, best spot in all the world in which to hide away your pretty eggs, and the precious birdies that will hatch out of them. They must be tucked well out of sight, for weasels and cats, and many other giants like eggs and nestlings for breakfast.
If you could find a kind family fond of birds, wouldn’t you think it would be a good thing to build near them? Perhaps they would drive away the cats and help protect your brood. Then on hot summer days maybe some little girl would think to put out a pan of water for a drink and a cool bath. Some people, like Dick’s friends, are so thoughtful they throw out crumbs to save a tired mother bird the trouble of having to hunt for every morsel she gets to give her brood. Just think what work it is to find worms enough for four children who want food from daylight to dark!
The vines of a piazza make a safe, good place for a nest if you are sure the people haven’t a cat, and love birds. I once saw a Chippy’s nest in the vines of a dear old lady's house, and when she would come out to see how the eggs were getting on she would talk so kindly to the old birds it was very pleasant to live there. In such a place your children are protected, they have a roof over their little heads so the rains won't beat down on them, and the vines shade them nicely from the hot sun.
When you are building your house everything you want to use will be close by. On the lawn you will find the soft grasses you want for the outside, and in the barnyard you can get the long horse hairs that all Chipping Sparrows think they must have for a dry, cool nest-lining. Hair-birds, you know Chippies are called, they use so much hair. The question is how can they ever find it unless they do live near a barn? You go to look for it, someday, out on a country road or in a pasture. It takes sharp eyes and a great deal of patience, I guess you'll find then. But if you live on the piazza of a house, with a barn in the back yard, you can find so many nice long hairs that you can sometimes make your whole nest of them. I have seen a Chippy’s nest that hadn’t another thing in it—that was just a coil of black horse hair.
After you have built your nest and are looking for food for your young it is most convenient to be near a house. The worms you want for your nestlings are in the garden, and the seeds you like for a lunch for ourself are on the weeds mixed up with the lawn grass. You needn’t mind taking them, either, for the people you live with will be only too glad to get rid of them, because their flowers are killed by the worms, and their lawns look badly when weeds grow in the grass, so you will only be helping the kind friends who have already helped you. Don't you think that will be nice?