• 1
    The nest-building behaviour of domesticated canaries was studied.
  • 2
    The principal activities, or groups of activities, studied were inspecting, gathering, carrying and sitting (building). The latter includes a number of stereotyped motor patterns functioning in shaping the cup.
  • 3
    The nest-site is selected by the female as or before building begins.
  • 4
    Building activity reaches its peak three or four days before the laying of the first egg, and slightly before the peak of copulation. The temporal relations between building and egg-laying are highly variable between individuals. The male plays only a small part in nest-building.
  • 5
    The total times spent gathering, carrying and sitting per watch are positively correlated. Since the change-over from one activity to the next does not depend solely on external stimuli, this suggests that these activities share internal causal factors.
    Two characteristics of building behaviour (total time building per watch and number of placings per watch) are not fully correlated with each other, and there are differences between the relations of the total times spent gathering, carrying and sitting with each of these characteristics (Figs. 3 and 4). The concept of a nest-building drive is thus not useful, for the selection of criteria whereby it could be quantified is arbitrary.
    The median bout lengths of gathering, carrying and sitting first increase and then decrease with increase in the number of placings per watch (Figs. 5 and 6) and there are correlations between the bout lengths of the different activities in each nest-building sequence. Each activity can be interrupted by the activity which functionally follows it before it own motivation has fallen to the normal threshold.
    The appetitive/consummatory behaviour dichotomy is not useful in analysing the relationships between gathering, carrying and sitting, but these can be understood in terms of concepts such as common causal factors, threshold differences, and self-suppressing effects consequent upon performance.
  • 6
    The stereotyped movements of nest-building differ in frequency between individuals “Scrabbling” is influenced by the size of the nest.
  • 7
    The decrease in nest-building activity around the time of egg-laying is due partially to internal changes, and partially to stimuli from the nest.
  • 8
    The length of sitting bouts is influenced by stimuli from the nest-pan as well as internal factors.
  • 9
    The change-over from building with grass to building with feathers which occurs shortly before egg-laying is due partially to internal changes and partially to stimuli from the nest.
  • 10
    Canaries reared without material show a number of bizarre patterns of behaviour which are established by learning during deprivation. The mere performance of nest-building movements has some reinforcing value.
  • 11
    Many of the constituent patterns of nest-building behaviour occur in naive birds, but their integration is partially dependent on learning.