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10th September 2012, 1:01pm
The brilliance of bird nests - avian experts gather for first scientific conference of its kind
Bird nest Scientists from across the world have gathered in Lincoln for the first ever scientific conference focussed on the construction and function of bird nests.

Running for three days from 10th September 2012 at the University of Lincoln, the conference has been organised by Dr Charles Deeming from the University’s School of Life Sciences, a renowned academic expert on avian reproductive biology.

The aim is to bring together scientists interested in how birds build their nests to provide the appropriate environment to incubate eggs and rear chicks.

Dr Deeming said: “Up to now nests have been perceived as just the receptacle for eggs and chicks, however, there is an increasing amount of information to suggest they are a lot more than that. One of the areas we are interested in is using the study of nests to understand climate change. The conference will explore how nests function, how they are constructed and the decision making process behind that.”

Dr Deeming’s recent research has shown how the environment impacts on the behaviour of Blue Tits and Great Tits when they build their nests.

The work, which featured on the BBC’s Springwatch series earlier this year, indicates that cold conditions during the time when birds are setting up home in nest boxes correlate with large, well insulated nests, whereas less bulky nests are built when it is warmer. That there are no eggs during the construction period suggests that a bird builds its nest to keep itself warm during incubation rather than to keep eggs or chicks warm, as might be assumed.  

Dr Deeming said: “One aim of the conference is to develop research collaboration within the UK and with colleagues overseas that will expand our understanding of nest biology. It is really exciting to have such a wide range of scientists all together in one place to discuss how bird nests work. Despite our good understanding of eggs and their development, the roles that nests play in bird reproduction are only now being considered seriously.”

Delegates from 12 different countries, including Australia and North America, are attending the conference.

The conference runs from 10th - 12th September 2012 and takes place at The Think Tank, close to the University of Lincoln’s main Brayford Pool campus.

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