Monday, April 4, 2011

Scraps are for the Birds!!

No, really. I’ve given my scraps to the birds. Fabric, thread, hair, fur, twine, cotton balls, yarn, string… all that stuff. It’s gone outside, out of my house, a cleaning process for me and potential building materials for our feathered friends.

In some parts of the world birds are already very busy building their spring nests. Here, in partially frozen New England where we just had an April Fools snow storm, birds are still figuring out where they’re going and how long they have to get there… which means I’m not too late!  Actually, birds continue to add to and rebuild their nests until their babies are grown sometime in the mid to late summer. This means it’s not too late for you either. Yay!

Next to my sewing machine in my sewing room (aka the dining room) hangs a plastic grocery bag filled with all sorts of odd and ends clipped right from my various projects. Although it contains mostly thread and fabric scraps, random pieces of plastic wrappers, staples, tape, broken chopsticks (I’ll explain that another day), and other assorted items are discarded there while I’m being oh so creative. This last grocery bag was stuffed and I really needed to throw it out in the trash. Alas, one pretty, almost spring morning, a bright cardinal sat in the dead-looking bush outside my bedroom window and inspired me to give back to nature. The birds were back and needed their own decorating supplies.

In years past I’ve simply left things outside on the porch or railings or chairs (or even in the lawn) for birds and other animals to come and collect. This year I wanted to invest a little more effort and hang stuff in trees. There are lots of ideas in cyberspace and written publications about what you can use to hold your birdie bits in, including, but not limited to:

Vegetable bags (think onions and/or oranges)
Wire suet cages
Grapevine balls or wreathes
Light bulb cages (hardware store)
Commercially made nest material holders
Open topped berry baskets
Mesh wrapped around a wire coat hanger

Some people are creative and thoughtful enough to design their own birdie stash holders.
Look at what Karen from SewManyWays created:

Or how about Amy from Amy Cornwell Designs artistic and functional sphere:

I opted for the middle ground and used items either destined for the trash or gathering dust for my fowl offerings. Reduce, reuse, recycle, right? Once my mind was in gear I immediately thought of a decorative, metal lantern once purchased on sale for some unknown use. It’s only use for the past decade has been to sit on top of my refrigerator gathering cobwebs. Lucky lantern, it now has a purpose!



This container was a bit too big and the holes actually a bit too small. Solution that will hopefully work, fill the inside with cardboard, toilet paper tubes. (No, I didn’t bother removing the scraps of tp. If the birds can get at them they’re welcome to those too.) Then I stuffed shreds of junk, er, I mean lovely scraps around the outside of the tp tubes pulling a few out here and there to let the birds know what they might find inside… should they bother to wander over.


My other nesting packages were made from red-orange, plastic netting originally fastened to the tops of clementine crates. For some reason these crates were still over in the recycling/trash area even though it had been months since I purchased said fruit. (An ongoing dialogue between myself and 18 year-old son. This time the lack of removal was to my, and our feathered friends, benefit, but we won’t tell James that… will we? Promise… or I’ll stop this blog right now. Thank you.)

Notice how my dog disliked being left out of the project. (He thinks he’s my second child, always wanting my attention when I’m not paying attention to him, but wanting nothing to do with me should I want to say… take his picture.)

I just folded the plastic nets in half, laced through some strands of a shredded burlap sack on 2 of the sides, filled with LOVELY ITEMS, and then closed it off with more burlap stuff.  Attach a ribbon to hang in the trees, and viola!

Now, all of this stuff… trash, clippings, up-cycled goodies… did require a little bit of consideration and prep work.  These are the items that are GOOD to put into your birdie stash:

Yarn            String         Fabric scraps         Thread          Wool
Batting             Pet fur           Horse hair          Human hair
Cotton Balls             Dead Leaves          Dead Twigs 
Dry Grass           Plant fluff           Feathers          Pine Needles  

Yes, you read correctly. Hair and fur are actually great items. They’re items collected naturally anyway. Please note that any bits of string or hair or fabric should be kept to less than 4” in length. In addition, fabric strips should not be more than 1” wide.  Why? Because long strings are likely to tangle around little birdie feet and necks and do serious damage. Not so pretty. Plus, what size birds are you hoping to cater to? The sparrows in my area aren’t likely to be seen carrying around a fat quarter sized scrap.

Items to AVOID including:

Dryer lint
Chemically treated hair or fur
Fishing line

Although dryer lint seems like an acceptable nesting supply, the chemicals we use in our wash are not kind to baby birds. Additionally, it doesn’t hold up to inclement weather.  Dryer lint stays wet, harbors bacteria and fungus, and makes the nest structurally weak. Bad for eggs and babies.

Now, armed with an overload of information and ideas, are you ready to go make your own happy homemaking kit for the returning beauties in your area?

~ Carey

1 comment:

  1. Terrific info for us bird lovers.
    Might you consider making some envelopes for the trees for those of us that are sans sewing machine?
    A coffee bag with wholes?
    I will check your etsy shop for bird nesting supplies. :)


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