When you think about it, birds are amazing little engineers. Every spring, to prepare for the big hatching of the next generation, many spend several days building a little cup-shaped structure to cradle the eggs up in the trees and out of easy reach.
The job usually takes about 1,200 back-and-forth trips, which includes a lot of on-the-fly scouting missions.
Help them get the job done a little more quickly by setting out some safe bird nesting materials in your yard. This will add a new dimension to your backyard bird watching, plus it’s the perfect science activity to help kids interact with their natural world.
Spring cleanup of your yard often means raking up the thatch, picking up twigs and yanking up dead stalks and leaves from the garden beds to make way for new growth. But stuffing every last bit into your yard waste bin is just a missed opportunity to help the birds. Instead, set out small piles of organic materials from your yard, including:
- stalks (trimmed into 6-inch lengths)
- grass stems
- pine needles
- fluff from a molting cattail or cottonwood trees and other plants that go to seed
Experiment with a few different yard placements, and see what catches their attention. Or, pack some of the materials loosely in a suet feeder and watch the birds tug it out!
A word of warning about household materials
Lots of online memes and articles going around recommend setting out things like yarn, dryer lint, string and pet hair.
But many birding experts, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, are now telling people not to do this. Fibers from string, yarn, fabric and even pet hair can easily become tangled around the little legs of nestlings, cutting off blood circulation, causing injury and even leading to death.
Throughout the nesting season, the birds will be working up an appetite from all that hard work, so keep an eye on the feeder levels. Lyric Chickadee Premium Sunflower & Nut Wild Bird Mix features a high-energy blend of seeds and nuts to keep them going!