Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Provide Nesting Material for Birds in Your Garden

Although much of America is still buried under piles of snow, birds here in California have been busy building nests for the last month.  Because I want to encourage birds to nest nearby and increase them as visitors to our garden, I am happy to provide as much nesting material as possible.  Fortunately, it is easy and very inexpensive.


Lazy gardeners rejoice!  When fall comes around, do not hasty to cut back perennials and dead annual stems.  Don't rake up the twigs and pine needles.  Leave the mulch alone.  Let grass clippings lie on your lawn. You are doing a service to local wildlife - not to mention your soil as the organic material will also enrich your soil as it decays.

Spider webs make great bird nest fodder!

Mulching with organic materials - above, pine needles - help the soil and provide nesting materials.  


The robins' nest (above) fell from one of our trees during a windstorm last year.  As you can see, much of it is comprised of twigs and pine needles.  A fair amount of the bottom, though is from the native bunch grasses (below) that I put in a couple of years ago. 

California native "deer grass".


Last year, I made the decision to skip plastic garden tape and opt for twine.  To ditch the metal and plastic plant markers and use wooden popsicle sticks.  I wanted biodegradable-only materials in the garden.

I was glad of my decision when I watched finches gathering strands from last year's bean tepee twine for this year's nests.


Three years ago (I kid you not!), I invested $5 in a ball of cotton batting from local birding store. We do not have snow here in California but we do (occasionally) have rain.  This fluff has remained on the tree year in and out and is used every year by birds building nests.

Just this January, I watched a mother hummingbird gathering material multiple times.  Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to get a good photo but you get the idea.

Even though it seems like a great reuse, do NOT offer dryer lint which can be harmful to birds.  


Finally, you can pull together your small yarn scraps, bits of twine and pet hair.  Put them in a suet or peanut bird feeder or mesh bag and hang them on a tree.  Word of warning - pet hair is the most favorite of birds in our garden.  We've even have fights break out over it.  

By following these simple steps, you can welcome more wildlife into your garden.

This post is part of Tuesday Garden Party, Green Thumb Thursday, and Maple Hill Hop


Lani Christensen said...

The birds always find my front door wreath and pull it apart to make their nests!

Anna (Green Talk) said...

I have outdoor columns and the birds are always making nests all around our house. This year, I am going to invest in bird feeders since I need their help with my garden pest problems.

Mindful Momma said...

Such a sweet idea to leave out nesting material. We have a problem with birds trying to nest on our front porch - but anywhere else is fine!

Mindful Momma said...

We're also looking forward to putting a bird bath in our yard this year!

LA Murano said...

I've never seen a hanging cotton ball like that before, very cool.

Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. I hope you join us again this week!


Sommer @greenmom said...

These are great tips! I always put out yarn, hair and items like you've listed too. Totally sharing this post!

Sara Vartanian said...

I've never put out materials but I think it's such a nice idea. I think my two little boys would enjoy it as well. Thanks for the tips.

Green Bean said...

@Lani - Okay, that is really cute!! I'd never thought of that.

@Anna - The birds have really helped with pest control in our garden. A pair of phoebes are always up eating the flies around the chicken coop - keeping that population down to a very un-annoying level.

@Mindful Momma - OHHH!! You remembered the bird bath. I'm so happy. :) I look forward to hearing about its visitors.

@ LA Murano - It was a very worthwhile investment.

@Sommer - I love that you've put out the yarn and has success. That was just something someone recommended to me but I think I'll have to do it.

@Sara - Your boys will LOVE it! Because if they nest in your yard, they might stay in your yard and the kiddos get to watch mamma and daddy birds feed their babies. Nothing is cuter than that. Honestly!

daisy g said...

I didn't realize that lint was a problem, I've always seen it listed as a good thing to put out in the garden. We use hair from home haircuts and leave our Christmas tree branches out. I love that you were able to figure out how that bird made its nest!
So good to see you on The Maple Hill Hop this week!

Lori Popkewitz Alper said...

What a sweet idea. We always seem to have quite a few bird nests around our house. I love seeing them fly in to take care of their little ones.There's always a nest directly outside our garage and the robins fly in and out all day.

Leigh said...

We have lots of birds nests around our house and now I see our "lazy gardening" ways are the reason for it. I am happy they have had a warm place to stay this winter.

Lisa said...

I can't wait to see the birds around here building nests. It's snowing right now but this is Oklahoma, it was 80 degrees on Valentine's day haha. Our poor animals are likely confused about what season it is.

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