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Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = birds_nest
Rufous hornero (Red ovenbird)(Furnarius rufus) and nest (2).JPG
A bird's nest. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: natural
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)should not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
See also
Status: in use


A natural=birds_nest is natural nest of a bird.

The tag value should be used only for naturally occurring nests, this means non-artificial nesting aids (for artificial nesting aids see man_made=nesting_site instead). It is not intended to be used for any kind of purposeful man made nests. Although, it may be used for other man made devices that are used as nest support. For example power towers and chimneys for bird nesting.

Mapping considerations

  • Please contribute your thoughts at the Talk page

In general mapping bird's nests has many problems:

  • It may expose information about nesting locations of vulnerable species in such a way that it endangers them.
  • Most birds nest in different locations every year, nests are natural objects & fall apart quickly. In general we do not map ephemeral objects. Your choice of A Reed Warbler nest to illustrate the article is particularly inappropriate as these nest several times each year in vegetation which will be gone by the following year.
  • In most European countries it is an offence to disturb a birds nest.
  • There are far too many of them (100s of millions / year in most European countries.
  • Mapping birds nests may bring opprobium on the OSM community from Bird Protection societies.

That being said, some think that we have established that the following types of breeding places of birds may be mapped:

  • Permanent breeding colonies of colonial species, such as many sea birds. These will usually be highly noticeable and mappable at all times of year because of guano deposits. Examples: Penguins, Gannetries, some Raptors (in protected sites only).
  • Nests on deliberately built structures for the purpose (e.g., for Storks, or Ospreys).
  • Artifical banks for Sand Martins and other hirundines.

Things which are less clear-cut:

  • Rookeries: often occupied for long periods.
  • Heronries: ditto, but my local one moved dramatically 10 years ago and is now so dispersed that mapping it would be futile.
  • Swift & Hirundine colonies: largely associated with man-made structures (e.g, Alpine Swifts at Helvetiaplatz, Zurich), Swifts & Red-rumped Swallows on bridges across the Tagus in Monfrague.

Broadly speaking it is colonies which are a useful mapping unit, not individual nesting sites.

There are a few related discussions on OSM Help:

Animal Protection

As already stated in the above, natural=birds_nest should only be used for natural nesting aids. Similar to man_made=nesting_site, please think about possible consequences (e.g. vandalism) when tagging a nesting site. Use the following rules as a guideline:

  • You should map nesting sites that act as landmarks
  • You should map well visible nesting site constructions in urban areas
  • You should not map nesting aids for endangered birds
  • You should not map economically used animal nestings without asking the owner; these are not in the focus of this proposal, anyway
  • You should not tag the species=* for endangered animals

These guidelines are based on common mapping ethics. Please also refer to the many discussions about this topic.

Additional Tags

  • birds_nest=stork species. Note that storks are fairly unusual and at least in Poland mapping their nests is not problematic.
  • nest_platform=<yes/no>
  • nest_mount=<pole/roof/tree/chimney/water_tower/wall>
  • Additionally, a capacity=* can be given, as nesting sites with a different number of nests have been sighted.


Power pole with storks nest and nest platform may be tagged: power=pole + natural=birds_nest + birds_nest=stork + nest_platform=yes

Typical stork's nest in Poland (on a power pole to the right). Note nest platform on a power pole selected by storks, protecting both birds and electric infrastructure.

See also