Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bird Nest Helpers

This is a post that relates more to late spring than the middle of the summer, but I couldn't really tell you how it worked out for us until now...sort of anyway. I saw two ideas for putting out yarn for bird nests. They were both the same basic principle - put yarn out. This one on Fiber Farm just used a suet holder and the one that looked more fun to me from Family Fun used an old onion bag.
Well, since we put out our feeder that the boys made with my dad (it was on our list for last summer of things to do and we got it done during the winter), we have had more birds at our house. I figured it would be a fun thing to at least try and help them with nest building supplies. But I waited. And waited more and after seeing a broken eggshell while walking my son to school last spring, I figured we were too late.
And then into May I saw a bird with a beak full of stuff, I decided maybe not. I asked my dad if I still had time and he said yes. I count his as an expert on all things bird because, well, he is. He taught avian ecology for 30+ years at Iowa State University, so I'm going to trust what he says. So, I decided we should jump right in on the project. I got a bag of yarn pieces from the thrift store and since my onion bag I was saving got tossed, we made do with a Mandarin orange bag.
I enlisted some help from my boys. The suggestion from my dad was to cut the yarn about 4 inches long or shorter. He also advised several time to just use different kinds of string, not yarn. (I didn't take his advice, though maybe should have, because the whole point of the original posts was to see your yarn pieces in nests all over the neighborhood. Ha ha.) Anyway, cutting yarn got boring, apparently, so I finished that up with our grass got shorter.
Then I cut the orange bag up into the biggest sections I could without having the label still attached. Clearly if you have older kids they could totally do this.
And here's our lovely bowl full of yarn pieces.
My helper came bag and we filled the center of the netting with a variety of colors of yarn.
Then I tied them.

And hung them in our tree. This is where my dad had more advice that I learned later. We made an extra bag to take camping with us and while there he said that the birds really need to be able to stand on something when trying to get the yarn out. 
So, my tree dangling wasn't so good, but hanging it on a spot where other branches were near was more ideal.
Since we also have a suet holder on our bird feeder, I filled that with yarn too. (Not with the suet in it. The first picture is from earlier in the year.) From what I could tell based on yarn pieces on the ground, this one actually got used, whereas the fun one to made did not. Maybe that was because of my hanging location, not my skills. :)
Whether or not she used our supplies we put out, this mama bird did build a nest in our tree and since then at least 3 baby robins have hatched. 
I think we are going to try this again next spring and instead of worrying about our pretty colors around the neighborhood, I'm going to take the professor's advice and use different kinds of string and other building supplies (which it turns out when I re-look, that is what they did at the Family Fun version) and make sure there is something the bird can hold onto while extracting the string from our bag.

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