Meet the Genius Tailorbird That Stitches Leaves Together to Make a Nest

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: March 3, 2024
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Can you imagine a bird that can sew better than you can? You don’t need to imagine it any longer because the clip below introduces us to the super-talented tailorbirds. This group of birds is able to stitch leaves together to create a cozy enclosure in which they make a nest. Their sewing skills would put many humans to shame!

Watch the Incredible Sewing Skills Now

What Exactly Are Tailorbirds?

There is no single species of tailorbird. It is a term used to describe small birds mostly belonging to the Orthotomusgenus. They live mainly in Asia and have short and rounded wings and short tails. Examples include the common tailorbird found in China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and several other countries. Another member of this group is the dark-necked tailorbird found in Bangladesh, Northeast India, and Southeast Asia. Also, the rufous-tailed tailorbird is found in several countries including Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Tailorbirds are often weak flyers and avoid open spaces, preferring to flit between trees and shrubs. They normally feed on fruits, seeds, and berries. That said, they sometimes forage for insects on the ground.

How Do Tailorbirds Sew?

The view of the nest of the tailor bird.

Nests are stitched together by tailorbirds.

©Shyamal Majmundar/iStock via Getty Images

Tailorbirds get their name from their ability to sew their nests together. However, the way in which they do this is varied. Even the experts are not entirely sure how all the different species of tailorbirds go about their complicated tasks. The main purpose of nest building is to keep the eggs and then the chicks safe from the elements and from predators. Camouflage is a key component of this. Female tailorbirds choose a broad, supple leaf that will provide excellent structural support once it is folded. Brittle leaves are no good to them because they will simply break or fall apart when they are being stitched, or when the eggs are laid.

The clever bird wraps the leaf around herself to make sure that it is the right size, then she uses her feet to pull the leaf together and pierces a series of tiny holes using her long, slender beak. Next, she uses plant fibers, insect silk, or caterpillar cocoon strands to sew the leaves together. Incredibly, they often use cotton fiber, just like we do! Tailorbirds living near human settlements also steal our stitching materials. They have been seen using our cotton thread, wool, and even fiber from our carpets!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © cherrybeans/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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