For the Birds: Nesting How-To

It is such a joy to watch birds flitting back and forth with strands of nesting material in their beaksóespecially if you donated them. Birds use so much energy building their nests that giving them a variety of materials is actually very helpful, and it can be a lot of fun. One year we placed my young son’s silky cut curls outside, and he was thrilled to point and tell his friends, “Look! See that shining in the nest? That’s my hair!”

In this busy nesting season, you can leave offerings out for the birds in your neighborhood. Here are some materials they prefer:

1. Hairóboth human and animal. (When we brush the cats, we end up with lovely puffs of fur to put out. You can also comb out the hairs left in your own hairbrushes to use. Or donate clippings from your hair trims.)

2. Thread, yarn, raffia, or string cut into 4-inch lengths.

3. Strips of cotton fabric, about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long.

4. Dryer lint (as long as you didn’t use chemical fabric softener sheets!).

5. Spanish moss.

6. Feathers.

7. Long dry grasses or dried leaves from iris, tulips or daffodils.

Place these materials in small piles around the yard. If it’s windy, you could put them in a net bag and hang them from a tree branch, with bits sticking out through the holes for easy grasping.

By Cait Johnson, co-author of Celebrating the Great Mother (Inner Traditions, 1995).


Julie Botsch
Julie Botsch4 years ago

Thank You. Nice Article.

Robert O.
Robert O4 years ago

Thanks Cait.

Dale O.

Interesting, always fascinating what versatile materials ends up in a birds nest.

Tanya W.
Tanya W5 years ago

Lovely thanks. Never new my long locks could come in so handy.

Care member
Care member5 years ago


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you Cait, for Sharing this!

John B.
John B5 years ago

Thanks, Cait for all the info.

Michele Wilkinson

I love watching the birds in the garden.
Thank you

Eco Warriors SOS Rainfore

the birds love the straw too.