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Hummingbirds prefer to build their nests with spore-bearing ferns, and mosses. This is helpful for the reproduction of the ferns, which are then better able to spread their seeds. But how is this beneficial for hummingbirds? Building in this manner is more difficult and energy-consuming.

Do live ferns make for better building materials? Is there a scent that these ferns are giving off to attract the hummingbirds? What kinds of research exist on this question?

References:

Carl Zimmer's National Geographic article, "A Living Nest?" (Feb 4, 2014) http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/04/a-living-nest/

Question by Twitter-user Jessica: @LadyJaya

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A wild guess: Where living ferns and mosses thrive it is a damp environment. In a damp environment, dead plant material would start rotting fast. Thus, using living plants guarantees a more durable nest. –  skymninge Feb 5 at 8:05
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