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Prepare for Nesting Birds
March 04, 2013

Pictured is Hairy (Hairy woodpecker), I haven't seen him much this winter.

Count em.

Sixteen more days till Spring.

I'm sure you are getting antsy, as I am.

Weather remains a topic with snow storms.

It is still winter after all.

This time of year, I would rather have the cold and snow.

As you recall, last year was not a healthy year.

All the farmers appreciate the moisture (will it be enough?).

Do you have your seeds and planting supplies ready?

While some seeds should have been planted weeks ago, many only require a six to eight week growing period.

Still, there are some seeds that require a stratification period.

Stratification is typically a time spent in a refrigerator or freezer (sometimes in damp soil).

This mimics a cold or winter time some seeds need to break dormancy.

Read your seed packets if you aren't sure.

Fur kids.................

Ya gotta love em.

Pictured is Keet (Akita) in our grand daughter's tent.

Keet moved around too much, so the picture I wanted, I couldn't capture.

Still, if there is something to explore, you can almost plan on your pooch or kitty to check it out.

It happens around here all the time.

Even if it is a simple cardboard box or sack.

Speaking of checking things out.

It is the first few days of a new month.

That means it is time to check out and clean your feeders and water sources.

I find more birds at my feeders and in my yard this time of year as natural food sources dwindle.

More birds can lead to frequent sickness and diseases passed on through saliva and deification.

A clean feeder can keep this to a minimal.

If you don't have time to give your
feeders a good scrubbing and sanitizing, give them a generous spray of rubbing alcohol.

Alcohol will kill off the cooties and evaporates quickly, leaving no harmful residue.

Not a complete fix as a proper cleaning, but works in a pinch.

Love Is In The Air.

More and more, I am hearing the songs of birds.

Especially birds that form a life long bond (so to speak).

If you live in the south, you may be experiencing some mating and nest preparations from your song birds as you read this.

Shelly B, from Poconos, PA. reminded me this past week to let you all of you know, that you can prepare for nest building time by helping the birds and entertaining yourself at the same time.

Now is a good time to start collecting and saving nesting materials.

It's getting close folks.

The pictures of the Robin and Red-winged Blackbird were taken this past week (through living room window).

The Robin on Wednesday, and the RWB on Thursday.

Here are a few do's and don'ts for nest building materials.


Collecting Nesting Materials:


By no means is this a complete list, however it will give you a general idea.

Probably one of the most common materials we have hanging around the house is yarn are string.

These materials can add to most species of bird nests.


While old school dictates pieces of string cut in six to eight in pieces, research has shown that some baby birds can get tangled in the lose fitting strings and become crippled or die.

It is much safer to have yarn and string cut into smaller two, three or four inch (60-100mm) pieces.

Lay in piles or stuff the string clippings in a clean suet basket.

I will admit, I still take longer pieces and loosely tie them around a shrub for the robins to work off.

I'm not too concerned about robins, as they are one of the master nest builders, leaving no loose ends.

It is also entertaining and educational to watch.

Hair is a popular nesting material.

You may have witnessed a bird attempting to pluck fur from a horse's main, or sleeping dog.

People hair, pet hair, horse hair, just about any hair can be used.

If you have a shortage of hair (some of us are challenged), feel free to visit a local barber or beauty parlor.

Ask a local pet groomer, they are more than happy to donate from their piles of fur.

Again, place piles or fill a clean suet basket and be sure to hang it where you can watch your feathered friends.

It is comical to see how much they can stuff in their bill before they take off.

Raw Cotton is another favorite.

You can often purchase this in bird stores already in a netted bag for you to hang.

Stay away from processed cotton (see below).

Feathers are another item you can't go wrong with.

Like moss, weed silks and fine grasses, feathers are used to not only build a nest, but for some birds to line the nest.

Keep feathers from your molting pet birds.

Cut open and use some feathers from that old feather pillow you were going to toss.

Do you know a farmer that raises chickens, ducks, or turkeys?

Ask for some loose feathers.

Now here is something you may not know until now.

If you have Tree Swallows nesting nearby, toss some feathers on the ground and stand back.

Feathers are prized treasures for tree swallows, and often you may witness a squabble in mid air over a feather.

Watch as they attempt to get an over sized feather.

They will actually tear off sections if the feather is to large.

Moss is also another nesting material that chickadees and others covet for lining nests.

Hummingbirds enjoy a bit of moss too.

Yard Waste and leaf Litter is still the most widely used by all birds.

Why not, it is the most abundant and the most natural of all nesting materials.

Don't be in an all fire hurry to clean up the flower beds and under the shrubs.

All that leaf debris and litter I suggested you use as mulch last fall, now gets to be used by all of your Avian friends.

Dry crumpled laves may look bad to you, but are a bird's delight.

Not only for nesting material, but many birds like towhees, Robins and Thrashers find a virtual smorgasbord hiding beneath the decaying material.

Little twigs are prized by doves, cardinals, wrens and other species.

What isn't gleaned with decay into the soil, making it richer for plant growth and helps to keep weeds down and moisture in.

If you plan on thatching your lawn, leave a few small piles of the dead grass for the birds and possibly you may witness a bunny rabbit stuffing her mouth for nesting material as well.


Over the years, I have seen just about everything in a birds nest.

Gum and candy wrappers.

Old shoe strings, pieces of newspaper, aluminium foil.

Easter grass, dryer lint, processed cotton.

You name it.

Birds need to build nests and will use just about anything out there.

Easter Grass, long, shiny strands of plastic.

How can a bird resist?

The thing is, Easter grass is one of those things that hang lose and all too often young birds get tangled in the plastic strands.

Wrapped around a leg, body or neck spells doom for the hatchling.

Once you are done with your Easter grass, put it away for next year or recycle it (in a bag).

Dryer Lint is one of those things that an unknowing or novice birder thinks is an ideal item for birds to line the nest with.

After all, it is soft and warm.

And we all have plenty of it.

If you toss it out, the birds will indeed take it.

However, you would be doing a Great Disservice to any bird.

Dryer lint is full of small matter that very easily gets breathed in by babies.

Baby birds choke and die.

Dryer lint can also make a water tight nest.

Research shows that too many babies have drown due to lint.

Eggs too have rotted while sitting in water and a soaking wet nest.

Dryer lint is best in a bag, in the trash.

Processed Cotton, while it looks good and would make for a soft nest lining, it too can cause babies to choke on the fine strands and fibers.

Use raw or natural cotton.

Stay away from old rubber bands and other materials that can choke or entangle a baby bird.

This list is by no means complete, but you get the idea.

Readers, Listen Up.

With Spring is just around the corner, I'm going to leave this up to you.

From time to time, I attempt to get reader involvement by asking for your favorite on a specific topic.

This time I would like your input on spring.

What do you look forward to the most?

The sights, sounds, smells?

Could it be digging in the soil for the first time?

What about the promise of a new beginning?

We've got a couple weeks to think about it.

Reply back to me with your:

First name (last is optional), Your general location and state or province you live in.

Send me your favorite thing on spring and I'll get it published late this month.

This is your chance to be the star.

Your name and favorite in print.

I can't do this without you.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

We tend to make courage too dramatic. Courage is often doing something simple, unpleasant, or boring again and again until we get it down pat. People who are physically challenged and who have the determination to get around their handicaps are great examples because their courage makes them test their limits every day.

Dave Thomas (1932-2002) American Businessman, Founder of Wendy's International Restaurant Chain

Well said.

As a parent of a special needs person, We see this and live with this courage everyday.

Everyday I thank God for my special girl.

The Bible has several passages on courage and encouragement, here are two of them.

For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?"

Hebrews 13:5-6

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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