Now is not a good time to be a dog or cat outside sunning on the porch. Birds, you see, are quite fond of animal hair as nesting materials and will swoop down, grab a beak-full of fur from your pet and fly off to build their nests. Chickadees, especially, employ this kamikaze tactic.
The next few weeks are the busiest time of the real estate year for birds as they construct nests to assure their young are properly housed.
Recently, Nancy bought a pack of nesting material, put it in a suet feeder with a sign (in bird writing) saying “Free for the Taking!” It’s called “Bird Nesting Material” and contains bits of fiber and locks from sheep, rabbits, alpaca and llama. It’s locally grown at Glory Farm in Scottsville. Wild Birds Unlimited sells it.
Birds are amazing little engineers when it comes to nest building. Baltimore Orioles, for example, suspend their nests from a tree limb like a small hanging cocoon. Robin nests are intricately woven with twigs. Hummingbirds are especially fond of spider webs with which to line their nests.
And you can help your birds during the coming construction process. For starters, don’t be so quick to pick up small, loose twigs, those under 4-inches. Many birds use them.
They like mud, too. If you have a brown patch, where grass refuses to grow, water it to provide mud.
Birds like fluffy materials as well. Any kind of animal hair or fur is good because it better resists water. Human hair is a no-no.
Save some grass from lawn clippings and allow it to dry. Dried grass is used by many birds. Pine needles, too. A mossy place in your yard is also good source for nesting materials.
Natural fibers such as yarn, twine or string are all good, but avoid all synthetic fibers such as Orlon or Dacron. Simply cut the natural fibers into manageable size pieces and hang them on a tree limb or shrub,
Though it may seem creepy, if you happen to find a snakeskin, don’t throw it away. Hang it up and birds will use it immediately.
So this spring, think like a bird and provide your feathered friends with good nesting materials.