As I was biking home the other day, I found a beautiful nest in the road. The next car that drove by could have easily flattened it. All the amazing work that went into building this beautiful and functional home would have been destroyed in an instant. So I picked it up and took it home with me. With Mother’s Day on my mind, it was hard not to imagine the bird mother’s distress at losing the home she had so tirelessly built.
When I asked our contributing author Ashley Capps to weigh in on this, she wrote something I’d like to share with you:
“Anyone witnessing the meticulous process of a songbird building her nest can only marvel at the remarkable intelligence displayed. But what of other birds we take for granted? Chickens also have a strong maternal instinct. In fact, the desire to nest is so strong in these birds that hens confined in battery cages (more than 95% of hens used for eggs) regularly exhibit “sham” or vacuum nesting behavior; that is, the performance of complex nest-building activity even when no nesting material is present. In natural conditions, a nesting hen will search for a secluded space — often in tall grass — and scratch a shallow hollow which she then lines with feathers plucked from her own belly; the resulting bald spot also allows her to warm eggs and chicks directly with her skin.
In nature, wild hens lay only 10 to 15 eggs per year. Red Jungle Fowl — the wild relatives from whom domestic chickens are descended — lay one to two clutches of eggs annually, with 4 to 6 eggs per clutch on average. It is a common misconception that chickens are always just naturally “giving” eggs, because modern hens are intensively bred to lay between 250 to 300 eggs a year. But in the wild, chickens, like all birds, lay only during breeding season — primarily in the spring — and only enough eggs to assure the survival of their genes. (Read more about this here.)”
I took the advice of Facebook friends and returned the nest I found to a tree in my yard, with hopes that another bird family would make use of it.
As for the domesticated birds we exploit for food, the truth is that all forms of animal farming depend on the exploitation of female reproduction, and the destruction of motherhood. Learn more at our feature, 7 Ways Eating Meat, Dairy and Eggs Destroys Motherhood.