Friday, April 12, 2013

Nest Building is For the Birds - but you can help

This is construction season for birds – and they’re busy searching for nesting material. Whether they make simple nests or elaborate cottages, birds are looking for building materials that will help keep their eggs warm, protect their young, camouflage the nest from predators and protect the babies from rain and weather.

Birds may use a variety of materials to build their nests, from twigs and leaves to strips of plastic shopping bags. Here are some other materials birds use to build their nests:

  • Grass clippings or dead grass
  • Yarn, string or thread
  • Human hair or animal fur
  • Feathers
  • Cattail fluff
  • Moss or lichen
  • Pine needles
  • Mud
  • Spider web silk
  • Straw or other plant stems
  • Dental floss
  • Shredded paper
  • Broom bristles or mop string
  • Cotton balls

You can help your backyard and neighborhood birds by providing some nesting materials. How?

  • Drape bits of string, thread, ribbon and cloth over trees and shrubs.
  • Loosely fill a suet cage with bits of nesting material and hang it where the birds will find it.
  • Fill a mesh bag or small basket loosely with materials and hang it where it won’t get wet. 

If you plan to put out extra materials, try to keep them natural – cotton or silk instead of plastic and polyester. And look for natural colors that won’t advertise a nest’s presence to predators.
 Remember to check out other cool science resources at STEM Friday.

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