Apr 18, 2023
The Best Nest Materials To Leave Out For Birds
If you just love watching and helping to care for the birds around you, you may
If you just love watching and helping to care for the birds around you, you may have wondered if there are any items you can leave out to help them build their nests. This is a natural thought, especially if you're trying to entice birds to nest somewhere on your property. But the truth is, it's very important to be extra careful doing this. Natural, native habitat materials are the best nest materials to leave out for birds, if you leave anything at all. We'll talk about this in-depth, so you'll have a better understanding.
The reality is that birds don't really need our help to make their nests. But if you're very careful, there's no harm in giving them easy access to some of the native items they would likely choose on their own. To know what those may be, you'll first need to know what type of birds are native to the area. It will take some research, but it's important to err on the side of caution. Many materials that seem safe can cause severe harm or even death to the birds.
Once you have a better understanding of the type of materials native birds to your area typically use for nesting, you can look for these items accordingly. When it comes to what's generally safe, stick with things like small sticks and twigs, leaves, and plant materials. Twigs about the size of an adult finger generally make good nest material, but the size often depends on the bird. Instead of raking up all the dead leaves and putting them in the compost pile in the fall, save a small pile of dead leaves and twigs.
You can add to the pile with grass clippings, as long as you don't treat your lawn with fertilizers or pesticides. You can also offer some untreated straw, as this is a favorite nesting material of many birds. If you have any moss to mix into the pile, this is a safe material. Pine needles are safe and a favorite of bluebirds. Lastly, the fluff from certain plants like cattails or cottonwood trees makes a wonderful addition to soften it up. You can stuff a bunch of this nesting material in an empty suet box, or simply place the materials in a spot easily accessible to where the birds gather.
Some items you might think are safe but aren't include either pet or human hair. Pet hair is unsafe due to flea treatment, pesticides, and shampoos. Human hair isn't safe due to the chemicals in our shampoos, dyes, hairsprays, etc. These things can be harmful to baby birds in the nest, even though some birds use animal fur in the wild. Birds can't always differentiate between "safe" wild animal fur and pet fur.
Dryer lint is not considered safe either due to the chemicals in the detergents and the microplastics contained in it. Of course, avoid any bits or pieces of plastic and anything containing plastic. Additionally, do not include any yarn or string that can quickly become a hazard if the bird gets tangled in it. Yarn and colored bits also typically contain dyes that can be harmful to baby birds. Basically, anything birds would not find in nature should be avoided. Anything that helps wild birds save precious energy can be helpful; just be careful that what you're offering is safe for them.