I liked these descriptions of nests from Richard Headstrom’s Complete Field Guide to Nests in the United States (1970). The book contains a few photographs, but largely depends on written descriptions of nests for identification.
The description of the crow’s nest, for example, falls under the category of “Small, Under 15 Inches, Outside Diameter”:
Substantial, well-built, cup-shaped, crude in external appearance; of sticks and twigs; warmly lined with strips of bark, grasses, moss, and fine roots. Sometime the interior has a warm yellowish color. Occasionally the nest will contain such materials as seaweed, corn-stalks, pieces of rope and twine, feathers, dried cow dung, and horse manure. Outside diameter, 12 inches; outside height, 9 inches; inside diameter, 7 inches; inside depth, 4½ inches. Usually in a conifer and close to the trunk but also in other trees, averaging 30 feet above the ground. Woodlands and coniferous forests. Eastern and central United States south to Florida and Texas.
Here are a few more that I liked:
Bulky, filling bottom of cavity, of grass, leaves, small twigs, rootlets, bark, hair, and pine needles; lined with finer materials. Often contains cast snakeskins, strips of cellophane, or onion skins, feathers, fur, seedpods, cloth, paper, parafinned or oiled paper, bits of eggshells, and pieces of horse manure. Inside diameter, 2¾ to 3½ inches; inside depth, 1½ to 2 inches. Preferably in a natural cavity but also in abandoned holes of larger woodpeckers, from 3 feet in low stumps up to 70 feet above the ground in large trees, but usually below 15 to 20 feet: also in hollow logs attached to buildings, hollow posts, gutter pipes, old tin cans, in almost any cavity of suitable size and location. Open country, old orchards, edges of clearings, woodland glades, and in the vicinity of human habitations. Eastern and central United States south to Florida and Gulf Coast.
Poorly constructed; of large sticks externally, inner cup deeply hollowed and compactly made; lined with strips of bark, cow hair, wool, and occasionally a few rags. Outside diameter, 20 inches; inside diameter, 8 inches; inside depth, 5 inches. Usually in solitary tree (oak, ash, or sycamore) but also in small mesquites, yuccas, and giant cacti. Deserts of southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Oklahoma, and western and southern Texas.
A loose, bulky, and inartistic structure of bark strips small twigs, coarse grasses; lined with fine stems an rootlets. Outside diameter, about 5½ inches; outside height, 3½ inches; inside diameter, 3½ inches; inside depth, 2 inches. In low bushes, especially sage, from 10 inches to 3 feet above the ground. Arid sagebrush country. Eastern Washington and Montana south to south central California and northern New Mexico.
An exquisite structure; semiglobular in shape; deeply hollowed with the rim curved inward at the top; of plant down of various colors (sycamore, willow, milk-weed, thistle), firmly felted and reinforced and bound on the supporting twigs with spiders’ webs; often resembles a small, round yellow sponge. Outside diameter, about 11½ inches; outside height, 1 inch; inside diameter, 1 inch; inside depth, ½ inch. Usually saddled on the small horizontal branches of oaks an sycamores but sometimes resting lightly in the forks of slender twigs. Western United States north to eastern Washington (rare) and northwestern Montana; common in southern parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas.
Inside the loose bark of trees. A loosely hung hammock shaped like a new moon with the horns built high at the sides of the nest, the latter seemingly suspended between them; of slim twigs, bark strips, moss, and dead wood; lined sometimes with a few spiders’ cocoons, feathers, and hair. Outside diameter, 3½ inches; outside height, 6 inches; inside diameter, 1 to 2½ inches; inside depth, 1½ inches. Behind or inside the loose bark of trees, from 5 to 15 feet above the ground; occasionally found in a knot-hole or a deserted cavity of a woodpecker. Woodlands and wooded swamps. Canadian border south to eastern Nebraska, northern Indiana, New York, Massachusetts, and, in mountains, to North Carolina.