Chickens layering their own nests???


Jun 8, 2020
So I Am sorta new to raising chickens, I have an assortment of bantams and Dominicks that I got this year. I think they are about 4-5 months old. Today I kept finding random stuff like moss and twigs in the nesting boxes. Is this the hens trying to build a nest or is there a rat or something trying to move into chicken coop to eat the eggs? Haven’t found any eggs the past few days from an older hen I have. Not sure what to do.
I've never seen chicken hens bring in bedding materials. Not saying it's impossible, but I might think you have something else in your coop. Birds like starlings come to mind. Can birds get in your coop?

Another option is that the stuff is stuck to the chickens and they are sleeping in the nest boxes?
it could be starlings but haven’t seen any around my house. There are some barn swallows I think that get close, but don’t go inside. It’s possible that it is something sticking to the chickens, the Last couple times cleaning out the boxes, there were a couple bantams in there avoiding the rain, but wouldn’t it happen before today?
The only way you will know for sure is if you put a camera out there, or if you observe something more. See if it continues. We have had a lot of rodents here this year, so that's always possible too.
So mine do actually add to their nests. I don't know how your coop and nests are set up, but if it's similar to mine, here's what's happening:


See all those wood chips on the floor right in front of the nests? Some of my hens play with them while in the nest box - think of it like those old cartoons that show hens knitting while sitting on the nest. They like pulling in long narrow pieces like bark and tiny twigs and stuffing them into the nest bedding (yes I've watched it, I've even put different shaped stuff in front of them to see what items they like best), or throwing them on their backs and then letting them drop off inside the nests. I can tell which nests get the heaviest usage by the amount of added wood debris inside. During molt, they'll grab bigger feathers and stuff them in there as well.

Just took a closer look at my own photo lol - the middle nest has a few twigs in it.
Mine will bring things in the nest occasionally, I have found leaves & things from outside. I have also, like @rosemarythyme said, watched them pick things from the coop floor & put them on their backs.
thank you! mine are free range so they could have picked things up from outside and brought in. also, the whole thing with stuff on their backs is believable. they actually will get so close to me when feeding, they will even get food on their backs and run around in circles trying to get it. so leaves and stuff can also get on them and be dragged in to.

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