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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Start collecting natural nest material NOW

Spring is when most birds build nests and lay eggs. Be ready! If given a choice, birds choose to build nests with naturally found materials. They love tall, native grasses. Some good ones for here are Bluestem, Indiangrass, Muhly and Gramma. 

The materials that birds use for nest-building can be almost anything that’s somewhat small, stringy and lightweight. Also, many nests are cemented together with mud, so it’s good to have water and/or mud nearby. (It doesn’t have to be very conspicuous, or even in your own yard – birds will find it!)  A bird might make over a thousand trips with beaks-full of mud, twigs, grasses, leaves or whatever, at the start of nesting season.
       Drier lint looks great for nesting material, but don't use it. Due to the ingredients in almost all detergents and fabric softeners, it irritates newborn birds greatly.

One of the most used natural materials is cotton. We use balls of natural cotton strands and yarn tails; even bits of thread. What could be more natural in former cotton country than cotton?!
    Another natural material birds love is fur. In nature, tufts of it are found all over! When we comb our dogs we’ll save the fur. Then we put it in something like an old wire suet basket, hanging it from a branch. We’ll see all kinds of birds pull out strands of fur to take to their nearby nests. Later, if we’re lucky enough spot a nest, we’ll carefully inspect it and find several tiny eggs nestled in our pets’ fur. Neat!



There’s actually no such thing as a seagull     The general public often refers to any and every white bird in a flock as a “seagull”, whether on the beach, near a landfill, in a parking lot or wherever. Actually, gulls are in the Laridae family, and there are 102 different kinds of them. Not a single one is named a “seagull”. The proximity of seas is actually irrelevant to most of them. However, the word “seagull” will never disappear since it’s a culturally embedded label.



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