Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Spring is prime nest building time for our feathered friends.  A couple of weeks ago I watched a Blue Jay tug with everything he had on a piece of old twine dangling from a roll up shade in my carport.  It reminded me how much fun I had watching birds the couple of years that I had put out nesting materials.  And then I promptly forgot about it.

And then Mother's Day and my mother's birthday came around, and while shopping for a squirrel-proof feeder for her -- the squirrels are getting the best of my parents' feeder -- I came across this Nesting Material Wreath for sale on Amazon:

Nesting Material Wreath
It is a pull apart wreath of nesting materials for birds. I ordered one for mom, and made a mental note to go buy materials to make one for my yard.

A quick Google search revealed this list of potential nest building materials.  It also listed things like small twigs and dried grass but since those items are, um, everywhere, I didn't see the need to include them in my wreath:

•Spanish moss (available in most garden centers)
•Dog hair (that's right, dog hair)
•Human hair
•Short strips of cotton fabric

I bought a bag of feathers, a bag of Spanish Moss and 2 skeins of fluffy yarn on clearance.  Everything else on the list I had on hand.  I decided to use a wire coat hanger for the form.  After contemplating what the body would be made of, I decided not to pull the hanger into a circle, but to leave it in the traditional hanger shape. 

I cut off a sleeve of an old sweatshirt and fit it into the middle of the hanger.  Next I took some burlap, cut it into a long strip about 4 inches wide, and wrapped it around the hanger to hold the sweatshirt sleeve in place.  That gave the middle of the hanger some body.  Next I took some orange cotton string and a darning needle and did some loose zig zag stitching to hold the burlap in place.  Then I snipped some vertical slits in the burlap to create strips to tuck materials behind, so that the ends of the material would stick out for the birds to easily pull on.  

Now for the materials.  I went to my rag box and retrieved two old pair of cotton pajama bottoms and cut strips about 1/4 inch wide and 3 inches long.  I cut pieces of yarn 3-5 inches long.  I cut up the Spanish Moss into manageable pieces, grabbed some lint from my dryer lint catcher, cut up some bits of the orange string, and went to work.  I tucked materials in, and I also used a pair of tweezers to pull materials through the burlap.

It didn't take terribly long, and this is what emerged:

I realized - bonus -- that the ends of the burlap strips would also be bits of string that they could use.  Sweet!  I liked it so much that I also made one for my friend in MN who sent me some potato "seeds" to plant this Spring (she had too many.)

Then my boss saw what I was doing... and said he wanted one -- that he had Cardinals  (I quote) "building nests this very minute" in his backyard.  Well!  Clearly time was of the essence!  I went to the office fridge, and hijacked the mesh bag that avocados come in:

This method was clearly the fastest -- literally took me about 10 minutes.  Any produce bag would work.  I had original thought about using a washable "delicates" bag from my laundry... but in the end couldn't quite part with one (and taking it back for laundry after nesting use... oh, I don't know, but um, no.)  In years past I have used the wire box that holds suet blocks; it works nicely as well and since it mounts on the feeder pole the birds find it quickly.  I have a bag of Clementines in my fridge at home -- I'll probably use that bag and make another materials bag for my backyard -- I have enough supplies to make a LOT of wreaths -- for the same price as one wreath already made!

I have mine hanging outside my front window next to my feeder:

I'll be watching for bright bits of things in bird nests in my yard!

1 comment:

What Pigs Don't Know said...

This is a GREAT idea! I have never seen this before. Would be fun to do with the kids, and you're right - we pretty much have everything on hand already. Will attempt soon! Thanks! -Carrie