What Kind of Nesting Material Can I Provide?

Providing nesting material is a great way to entice birds to visit your yard. There are several types of materials and ways to present them to the birds.

Natural materials are the easiest to provide. Twigs, fallen leaves, and grasses (which haven't been treated with pesticides) can be placed in piles around gardens and other little nooks in the yard where birds tend to poke around. Keep a patch of native grasses and other fibrous plants where you don't cut back the dead plants in the fall - come spring, lots of birds will harbor this material, including robins and orioles. Moss, bark strips, and pine needles are other commonly used materials.

Pet fur is another popular nesting material for birds, although you don't want to use fur from a pet that recently received flea or tick treatments. Place in an onion bag and hang from a tree, shrub, or on a pole. Alpaca and sheep wool can also be used.

Do not offer birds dryer lint - it holds too much moisture, crumbles as it dries, and can contain harmful residues from detergents and fabric softeners.

Some birds, such as chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and bluebirds will begin nesting early in the spring (late March, early April),and goldfinches don't start nesting until mid- to late-August, but the main nesting period in our area is May through July. You can try offering a small amount of nesting material starting mid-March and increase your offerings as peak nesting season arrives come May.