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Nesting Material For Birds
March 06, 2017

Snickers catching the last bit of sunshine for Saturday afternoon.

Below are pictures of the sleeping furbies.

Last week brought Thunder Storms, and snow all within the same day (March 1st).

Today we push 60 F. (about 15 C.) once again.

Winter continues its roller coaster ride.

My eye pressure is up another point, Doctor put me on an additional eye drop and an appointment next month.

I also have some new glasses (windows) on order for pick up later this week.

Seed planting has started for me, as the Grow-light is fired up and, and a few seed trays and houseplants in need are basking in the light.

Daylight Savings Time begins this coming Sunday.

I look forward to getting an extra hour in the evening.

It's physiological thing I suppose, but it sure is nice.

The longer days are nice for our birds too as they are becoming more active.

Love Is In The Air.

(The resident Pair of Red-tail hawks.)

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.

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

It's getting close folks.

Great-horned owls have been sitting for some time now.

Northern Bald eagles as well are nesting.

I have reports of Bluebirds nesting as well as a few other species.

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


Collecting Nesting Materials:

(Mourning Doves)


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 (60-100 mm) 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.

Pictured is raw cotton I harvest from the plant or two I grow here in Michigan

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.

Collect feathers from a nearby pond.

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 into a nesting box or tree cavity.

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.

Collect some moss and put it in a suet basket.

Yard Waste and leaf Litter:

I am forever preaching on keeping yard waste and leaf litter over winter for many reasons.

Nesting birds is one of those reasons.

It 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 leaves 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.

(Sandhill Cranes)

Here is a list of Don'ts:

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.

Old discarded cigarette filters.

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).

The stuff lasts for years.

(The tree was full of Cardinals, this is only a small sampling.)

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.

It is often gone before you know it.

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

Pay attention now.

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 of refined 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.

Yes, birds can choke on just about anything, even moss and leaf litter.

This is natural and all part of nature.

That is what we do, care for and garden for wildlife.

Enjoy your feathered friends as they go through the courtship rituals.

As males fight over territories.

With song and dance.

Maybe catch a glimpse of the cloacal kiss, (Bird love).

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), Founder of Wendy's International Restaurant Chain

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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