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Materials and Garden Practices That Help Birds Build Nests

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What makes a beautiful garden all the more spectacular? The lovely songs and lively antics of wild birds.


There are many ways to support birds with your garden and to attract them to it. Bird feeders, bird baths and nesting boxes help draw the birds in, while thoughtful planting design makes them safe and secure. But perhaps the simplest, most effortless way to assist birds in springtime is to ensure that they'll find plenty of nest materials in your garden. 

The nesting materials may vary depending on the type of bird you are hoping to lure into your yard; however, in general leaving little piles of twigs and other plant debris around your garden will encourage birds to gather them up for nesting. 

You can also scatter yarn or twine, hair and fur, dry grasses and straw, bark strips, dried mud and pine needles. Just make sure not to set out anything that’s been treated with pesticides or herbicides, or that may contain chemical residues—such as dryer lint (it crumbles and it will include residues left over from detergents and softeners).

You can leave material in piles on the ground, or stuff clean suet feeders with various offerings. 

Different species of birds will use different materials for building their nests and they will have varying nesting seasons. If you are hoping to entice a certain type of bird, research the species’s nesting season, as well as what type of nest they build, for best results. A great website for that information is Cornell's All About Birds.

For complete advice on designing a garden that naturally attracts and supports birds all year, I recommend the book Gardening for the Birds by George Adams.