Avant Gardening

How-To Encourage Bird Nesting This Spring!

What would a garden be without the music of birds? Spring is the perfect time to think about ways to encourage birds to take up residence in your garden. Picture 340

During this mad-dash of territory conflicts and courtship rituals our birds need to find food, water, mates and a home to call their own! Try thinking like a bird – Your #1 priority is survival! By far the most labor intensive activity is building some kind of shelter where you (and your future little ones) will be safe and warm. Imagine having to select a site, gather materials and build a home… every year… without thumbs! This process for many birds can take thousands of trips over a week or more.

Let’s try to help out these busy parents by providing some material for them. Just like the birds themselves, their nests come in all different shapes and sizes! Typically birds use natural materials to construct their nest, but if the opportunity is available to them they will use more common household-type materials as well.

Naturally Found Materials: Twigs, Sticks or Roots, Dead Leaves or Grass Clippings, Moss or Lichen, Pine Needles, Spider Web Silk, Mud or Small Pebbles, Cattail Fluff, Cottonwood Down or Milkweed Seed Fluffmilkweed fluff

Household Materials: Yarn, String or Fabric Strips (3-8” lengths), Cotton Balls, Human Hair or Animal Fur, Shredded Paper, Broom Bristles or Mop String, Dental Floss, Stuffing or Batting

Keep in mind that not all materials are safe for birds! For example, do not provide dryer lint – it crumbles after exposed to rain and your laundry detergent/fabric softeners can leave harmful residues.

How To Provide Materials?

There are multiple ways to offer nesting materials to our feathered friends. The easiest tactic is to simply leave dead twigs, leaves and grass clippings in concentrated, readily-observable piles around your property. If you would like to be able to observe the action, try filling an empty suet cage, wire bicycle basket or wicker container and hanging it from a branch. You can also offer material loosely draped over a clothesline, tree branch or bird feeder.

Watch & Wait

Consider leaving out something that you can easily recognize again, such as brightly colored strips of yarn or fabric. It can be fun (especially for kids) to watch and see how something was incorporated and completely transformed for a different use.

Many factors will play into a bird’s decision on a nesting site – most of which are completely out of our control. The most important thing to remember is: Be Patient. Birds have gone through this process many times and are used to finding things on their own. It may take a few seasons for them to even recognize our efforts, but when they do – the experience is definitely rewarding.

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