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Birds nesting on high-rise buildings (1 Viewer)


New member
Greetings, all!

As a writer working on a scene in a novel, I need a smidgen of help from the birding community. I'll spare you the context, but I'm trying to figure out what kind of birds might plausible construct a nest on a high-rise building in the midwest of the US (say, Chicago or Minneapolis area) -- maybe 40 stories up. One can imagine shorter buildings in the vicinity, creating a kind of ladder effect up to 40 stories. I'm hoping there might be some smallish bird (swallow, wren) that could plausibly do such a thing, and I don't have room for a peregrine falcon nest :)

Any and all thoughts on the matter will be greatly appreciated!



Speak softly and carry a long lens
40 stories is quite high. Your common, small ground-feeding birds (starlings, sparrows) are not going to be terribly interested in hauling nesting material all he way up there when similar spots in the two-story height range are plentiful, unless there's something particularly enticing about the building.

Hawks and falcons will certainly nest up high - they just need a bit of a ledge to put the nest on. It's your book, no reason your building can't have a little ornamental ledging on it!

Other than that, you're looking for cliff-dwelling species. That's going to mean pigeons, swallows, ... and that's all I can think of at the moment. Generally these species like a sheltered spot, just underneath a bit of an overhang. So if you have room for one of these, you probably have room for a red-tailed hawk too.

Most high-rises have lots of engineering spaces near the roof (for elevator machinery, HVAC, etc). Assuming some of these areas are neglected, you could have bats or barn owls finding a way in there.

The other thing to keep in mind is that weird things happen all the time. I've seen canada geese nesting halfway up a cliff. There's no law that says you couldn't have anything from an osprey to a hummingbird nesting on your roof. Maybe there's an abandoned rooftop garden with a fruit tree? Or the roof doesn't drain properly, and weeds have grown up that provide plenty of seed and insects for sparrows? Or there's no explanation at all, and one totally-out-of-place pair of escaped parrots make a perfect symbol for your main characters sense of alienation...


New member
Many thanks, Nartreb! That's incredibly helpful. I'd almost given up hope of getting a response to this query. I think you've covered all the bases.

Very grateful.

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