A fluff piece for the birds

Nesting material

Neat and smooth just days ago, the coco-fiber liner in this hanging basket in my back garden has turned into a depot for fluffy bird bedding.

Warning: this post is a fluff piece. And it’s strictly for the birds.

Fluff is important for building a nice, cosy nest. All soon-to-be Bird Moms know this. But pollution, weed killers and our innate desire to clean up our gardens has resulted in a dearth of plant-based fluff.

But there are ways you can help beef up the inventory of raw materials birds need now. The National Wildlife Federation has a great blog post that points out that even if you supply your feathered friends with bird houses, they still have to build a nest inside each one. Check the posting out for a handy list of “construction goods” you can offer in your garden.

Meanwhile, ease up on your next yard clean-up. Leave some mud and dried grass–they’re actually at the top of a lot of birds’ building lists. And don’t sweep away the spider webs you find under your eaves or between tree branches, either. Hummingbirds rely on the filaments to bind their little cup-shaped nests together and secure the nest to the branch.

You can make your own building materials depot by stuffing an old kitchen whisk with bits and pieces and hanging it by its handle from a branch. An empty suet cage works well, too. Stuffing materials can include bits of string, yarn, and dog hair. But, the NWF warns, laundry dryer lint–the very definition of fluff–is, unfortunately, bad for birds. The stuff is permeated with chemicals (detergents and fabric softeners) that are harmful to birds. Also, lint will soak up water, making for a soggy nest.

If you want a short-cut (as I so often do), just pull out your coco-fiber-lined plant containers and place them around the garden. It’s still too early, here in Southern Ontario, to plant them up, but in my garden they’re doing double duty as bird bedding depots until the weather warms up.

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