This is the season for our avian friends to build nests for their young. Not that they need any help from us. Look into any nest and it’s a marvel of construction of tiny twigs, evergreen needles, and bits of this and bits of this and that. Imagine weaving a nest with just a beak. I’m always so impressed.
One thing that is fun to do is to provide nesting material for your local birds and leave it in a place where you can observe them taking your offerings and then flying away. This can be as simple as draping it over shrubbery, handrails, or placing it in a dedicated suet feeder or bird feeder. I have come upon later vacated nests and discovered my donated materials incorporated into nests which is quite a rewarding experience.
The following is a list of edited guidelines from the website “All About Birds”
Do provide any combination of the following:
- Dead twigs
- Dead leaves
- Dry grass (make sure the grass hadn’t been treated with pesticides)
- Plant fluff or down (e.g. cattail fluff, cottonwood down)
- Bark strips
- Pine needles
- pet or animal fur that has no flea chemicals or other chemicals
- natural yarn fibers like wool or cotton cut up into small lengths (like 2”)
- Spider silk
- plastic strips
- aluminum foil
- dryer lint ( this gets stuck in their beaks, can contain microplastics and harmful chemicals)
- Any synthetic materials.
Do provide nesting material in any of the following ways:
- in piles on the ground (works well for leaves and twigs)
- in clean wire-mesh suet cages, or mesh bags hung on tree trunks, fence posts, or railings
- pushed into tree crevices
- draped over vegetation
- in open-topped berry baskets
- spiral wire hangers made especially for putting out nest material (one type looks like an oversized honey dipper).
In short, natural untreated materials are best. When in doubt don’t. Birds really don’t need our help building their nests. This is really for our benefit!