This section is from the "The New Student's Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories" by Elinor Atkinson.
You wouldn't expect as wild and silent a bird as the scarlet tanager, to build a nest ten feet from the ground, at the end of the limb of a wild crab-apple tree, would you? It is made of twigs, roots and shredded bark, loosely woven and lined with soft fibres. The eggs are a dull white or greenish blue, spotted with brown and violet, something like a blackbird's but more thickly spotted on the blunt ends.
The king-bird, too, builds a big, clumsy nest in an orchard tree or maple, right out in plain sight. But he is ready to defend it with much bustle and talk, telling everyone that this is his castle and no visitors are welcome. The jaybird builds a loose nest, too, but in a high branch. And he doesn't disdain to use the deserted nest of a. crow. That shows his good sense, for the crow flies high and makes a stout nest of sticks and all sorts of things. He stuffs all the cracks with moss, and he plasters it outside with mud so it is often good for a couple of seasons. Besides, he lines it thickly with horse hair, moss and wool, for little crow babies are perfectly naked.
The swallows are even better masons than the robins and crows. They make their entire nests of little pills of mud, mixed with straw and their own saliva. Like the robins, too, they repair their old nests. A barn-swallow colony comes back to the old home and looks over the wind and frost battered rows of mud and straw nests under the eaves and along the rafters. They stuff up holes, and put in new linings of straw and chicken feathers. They are so trustful of their human friends that they never conceal their whereabouts, or their babies. They throw bird-egg shells, nest refuse and everything overboard, right under their nests. Most birds are very careful to carry their sweepings to a distance.
Little phoebe with her " pewit-pewee " is confiding, too, like the wrens. She builds her nest of moss and mud around dwelling houses, and under low bridge arches. The cedar-bird likes a cherry or a cedar tree. She makes a large nest as neat as her little quaker self, of clover stems, pine needles, grass and shredded bark. She is a late builder although she comes early. It is June or July before she lays her four or five clay-colored eggs. The gold-finch doesn't build until there are the softest thistle and dandelion seeds to line her pretty nest of fine grasses. She builds it in the crotch of a tree, not over twenty feet high, and in it lays from four to six pretty bluish-white eggs.
If the orioles are weavers and the swallows masons, the woodpeckers are carpenters. A pair, working together, chisel out a home in hard, clean wood. Old red-head's nest is often a foot deep. The door to it is a round auger hole that goes into the tree, then curves downward and swells out. The hole is the shape of a crook-necked gourd. Papa Red-head chisels for twenty minutes, then the Mama relieves him. Both of them work, in relays, from dawn until nightfall. Flat-chested, hump-shouldered, stout toilers, the woodpeckers have to dig their clean nests, and then dig for grubs to feed themselves and babies. They are the hard laborers of the bird-world.