Avian ‘found art’

I recently spotted a real-standout bird’s nest along my running route. The clever creature had gathered straws, strings and six-pack rings to construct a work of ‘found art.’ The piece was truly spectacular.

Trouble is, that bird and any of its nestlings are at terrible risk of falling prey to the building materials. By now, most people are aware that six-pack rings, fishing line and other plastics should be snipped and discarded properly. But most don’t realize that yarn and any type of string, twine and even human hair can easily become tangled around birds’ legs, wings and neck and cut off circulation, causing serious injury or even death. Many baby songbirds lose limbs (or worse) due to string-like materials in a nest.

If you wish to offer nesting materials in your yard, pre-made nesting material is available for purchase. You can also use the following natural alternatives.

Small Yard Debris: Pine straw, wheat straw, and tiny twigs make good bird nest building materials.

Grass Clippings: One of the most common nesting materials, grass clippings can be gathered into balls or simply left mulched into your lawn.

Animal Hair: If you brush or clip your animals, save the fur! It makes a wonderfully soft lining for bird nests. Here on The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve & Conservation Farm, we find nests snuggly lined with donkey and goat fur, shed by the residents of the farm animal sanctuary. Just don’t use any hair or fur that’s been treated with flea dips or insect repellents.

Plants and Seeds: Fluffy seeds and plants, such as cattails, make good bird nesting materials. Please make sure the seeds are those of plants native to this area.

Cloth Batting: Wool or cotton batting cut into 3”- 6” strips makes good nesting material.

Feathers: Providing feathers for nesting material is a great way to recycle old down pillows. Better yet, keep backyard chickens.

Moss: Sphagnum or Spanish moss make great bird nesting material (make sure it’s not been chemically treated).