WTF Fun Fact 13455 – Bird Nest Spikes

Bird nest spikes sound pretty uncomfortable. But the birds have defeated us since they’re now using anti-bird spikes designed to keep them away as materials to build their nests! Nature always finds a way.

How are birds defeating the spikes?

It’s magpies specifically that are making headlines. They’re the birds that have been found using the anti-bird spikes designed to deter them as construction material for their nests. This fascinating behavior underscores these birds’ remarkable intelligence and adaptability.

Anti-bird spikes are rows of pointed metal or plastic prongs designed to deter birds from perching on buildings, bridges, or statues. People use them when they don’t want birds building nests or leaving droppings in a specific area. And since birds can spread disease, some people see them as dirty.

However, far from being deterred, magpies have decided to turn the tables on humans by using these spikes to their advantage.

Bird nest spikes for a spiteful home

We kid. The birds aren’t spiteful. They’re just trying to survive.

Birdwatchers have observed magpies collecting these anti-bird spikes and weaving them among twigs and branches to create sturdy and secure homes. The supposed deterrents have become a beneficial resource for these intelligent creatures.

Scientists believe that these birds’ unexpected behavior is an example of neophilia, an attraction to new things. Unlike neophobia, a fear of new things common in many animals, neophilia is characteristic of certain bird species, particularly those known for their intelligence like magpies and crows. The anti-bird spikes are new elements in their environment, so the birds investigate them and then find a way to use them to their advantage.

Implications for bird deterrence

The use of anti-bird spikes by magpies challenges the effectiveness of this deterrence method. If the birds can repurpose these structures for their use, their presence may not achieve the intended effect of keeping the birds away. This revelation could prompt a re-evaluation of current bird deterrent strategies.

The behavior of these magpies and crows using anti-bird spikes underscores the impressive cognitive abilities of these birds. It’s yet another example of their capability to adapt to and exploit the human-altered environment, offering further proof that these birds possess a high level of intelligence and problem-solving skills.

The birds’ actions also serve as a reminder of the continuous interplay between wildlife and human spaces. As humans encroach more on natural habitats, animals must adjust and adapt to survive. These magpies and crows turning a human deterrent into a beneficial resource is a clear instance of this adaptive behavior.


In their creative use of anti-bird spikes, magpies and crows have provided a fascinating case study of avian ingenuity. They’ve turned a human-made deterrent into an advantageous resource, demonstrating their intelligence and adaptability. These observations could have significant implications for how we design bird deterrents in the future. It also invites us to appreciate and respect the remarkable cognitive capabilities of these feathered urban dwellers.

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Source: “Magpies Are Making Nests Out Of Humans’ “Anti-Bird” Spikes” — IFL Science

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