From parachuting spiders to sunscreen-secreting hippos, the animal kingdom is filled with creatures with hidden talents. As far as craftsmanship goes, the tailorbird of tropical Asia boasts one of the more impressive skills. The bird has evolved to stitch together nests without the help of fingers or sewing equipment.
The video below shows how tailorbirds are able to sew together homes the same way you might stitch up a torn jacket. Females of the species start by choosing strong, healthy leaves to serve as the structural foundation of their nests. They need to be big and sturdy enough to contain the mother and her chicks and secluded enough to provide cover from predators.
The next step is where the process begins to resemble a craft project. The tailorbird uses her needle-shaped beak to pierce a series of tiny holes along the edges of the leaves. She then takes foraged fibers—like cotton, lint, or cobwebs—and pulls them through the holes to hold the leaves together. The bird may add 150 to 200 stitches to her nest to ensure its stability. The coarseness of the material combined with the leaves' natural springiness prevents the structure from falling apart.
Depending on how smoothly the construction goes, the tailorbird spends two to four days building her nest. While the female does the actual stitching, the male is responsible for gathering the necessary components, which include the "thread" as well as soft materials like feathers and grass to cushion the interior. The finished product keeps the mother and chicks warm and comfortable without drawing attention from predators.
You can watch the tailorbird at work in the video below. Here are more birds with exceptional talents.