The wonder of nature – webs, nests and ears

Do you ever take time to think about the absolute beauty and wonder of nature? I sometimes do, although you could construe this as me being a little neuro-diverse just having completely random thoughts but you’re never too old to learn and they say knowledge is power so think of me as your power giver today! I can’t even recall what got me started on this particular quest but after pondering the question – how do spiders actually know how to spin a web, at five o’clock in the morning and then wondering how birds actually know how to build a nest, this ignited the sparks and evolved into an idea for a blog post. This will probably turn into a series as there is so so much to wonder about nature. Most of it we’ll probably never know the answers to but I’ll start small…

How do spiders know how to spin a web?

This is a particularly intriguing question as they are so beautiful, precise and delicate…

It’s very unlikely that mother spider pops on her apron and calls her spiderlings together, “Sebastian, Cecil, Sarah, Susan, Cecile, Cilla, Cedric, Sidney, gather round now!” and once she has their attention, proceeds to demonstrate her finest spinning skills. For starters she’d be there for ages and probably have to set up a few different workshops, have you seen how many babies a spider has?

Well I’ve discovered the answer is that it’s due to genetics. Spiders instinctively know that they have to build a web to catch food. It’s survival. They just don’t know how beautiful and exquisite their creations are. They just build a basic shape as their little bodies will let them. We see the beauty when the light catches on a spiders web, or we’re lucky enough to capture the magic of the morning dew or raindrops on an intricately created web.

Take the time to appreciate the absolute beauty and marvel of a spiders web.

How do birds know how to build a nest?

I wondered whether building a nest is a natural instinct for birds or whether they learn from their parents. I had a bit of delving with this one and found out that many others have done too! I’ve discovered that nest building is a skill that birds learn and that birds become more skilled in this craft, the more nests they build.

A study was carried out by the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews and Glasgow together with scientists from Botswana. University scientists filmed male Southern Masked Weaver birds in Botswana, building multiple nests out of grass during a breeding season.

The researchers observed individual birds changing their technique from one nest to the next. They also noticed that some birds build their nests from left to right, and others from right to left – to me this then presents the question ‘Are birds or animals left or right footed?’ This fascinating study also showed that as the birds gained more experience in building nests, they dropped less grass as they were doing so.

Summarising, it’s fascinating that birds have learnt to create a safe and snug little haven for their babies, where they can nurture them until they are old enough to set out into the real world, (sound familiar?)

How fascinating is it that birds learn how to build nests – they’re obviously kinesthetic learners!

Researchers have discovered that birds learn how to build nests and they get better at it the more practised they are.

Additional Info

It is believed that there are mainly three different types of learners:

  • Auditory learners – learn best when they are told something, they can hear the information and retain it.
  • Visual learners – learn best when they are shown something, they like to use visual aids such as pictures, images, diagrams and videos.
  • Kinesthetic learners – learn best by being ‘hands on’ ie actually having a go and doing the thing that they are trying to to learn.

Can insects hear you talking to them?

If I’m trying to entice a bee to fly out the kitchen window, we’ll have a little chat about why it’s in the bee’s interest to go outside. I’m sure you can imagine the conversation – well obviously it’s a bit one sided but along the lines of “Come along little bee, you need to go outside in to the fresh air and go and find yourself some pollen, it’s no good being stuck inside here, I’ve only got boring houseplants and they’re not going to have what you’re looking for.”

So my last question is, do insects have ears, can they hear you talking to them? Can they hear anything at all or is it just felt by vibrations?

According to National Geographic, grasshoppers, crickets and locusts all have tiny little knee-ears! They actually have eardrums on their knees that capture sound and send information to the insect’s nervous system, how amazing is that! This gives them a bit of an upper hand when it comes to hiding from predators, for example they can hear the high-pitched sonar of bats.

I’ve discovered that certain butterflies have ears under their wings, mosquitoes and honeybees have ears on their antennae. Many other insects don’t have ears as such, but they do have an auditory organ that enables them to detect vibrations!

Did you know that honeybees have ‘ears’ on their antennae. All the better to hear you with my dear!

Wow that’s some new information for me, I certainly wasn’t expecting that! I hope you found this interesting and would love to know if there’s anything else you wondered about nature.

It’s been proven that being close to nature has amazing health benefits for us, so next time you’re out and about, or even taking a short walk to the shops or taking the kids to school, try and take the time to look around and embrace the beauty of nature.

3 comments

  1. I really enjoy your blogs Fiona. You write in such a gentle, entertaining way. Your words are thoughtfully expressed making me see life in a more meaningful way.
    Well done and thank you.

    Like

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