Help Your Birds This Spring

Offer nesting material for spring birds.

This cute video was recently brought to our attention that showed an adorable titmouse gleaning soft hairs from a Golden Retriever’s backside–while he continued to sleep! Birds definitely love animal hair as soft lining for their nests. It seems they can’t get enough of it!

So it was just a thought that the next time you brush your dog in the winter, collect the stray hairs and save them in a bag, so that spring comes, you can supply your birds with this delightful nesting material. Cat hair, horse hair, goat hair and rabbit fur all work equally well!

What other items are frequently found in nests? Unfortunately, plastic products and even plastic bags can make their way into birds’ nests. The obvious solution here is to keep the yard picked up and scout the roadside in front of your house and remove possibly unpleasant additions to your birds’ nests.

But other “good” materials that birds appreciate for nests are string, thread, yarn, feathers, moss, grasses, cotton batting or natural cotton, Spanish moss, sphagnum moss and fine vines. If you knit or sew, save the yarn and thread bits in a basket or bag. When you’re cleaning the yard and pulling vines from fences or the like, save these also–you get the idea.

Baby Blackbirds recently hatched in their nest.

See the moss? This is a “good” nest.

Birds begin nesting in about March, so be on time with the goodies. You can put them out in a suet basket or an onion bag. The birds aren’t fussy!

And of course you can also consider purchasing nesting materials for the birds. Here is a link to Duncraft’s full selection. Enjoy collecting!

Happy Birding!

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  • Brigitte Peck Ki Laou January 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for reminding me for these valuable tips.

  • bella January 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Love that video! Thanks for sharing it!!!
    I never thought of saving my dog’s hair for my “nesting bag”.
    Thanks for the tip!

  • Martha January 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    You may know birds,but you don’t know dogs. The dog is a Golden,
    not a Lab. Better hair here.

  • Pam January 31, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I used to groom our pug in the yard and leave her winter coat in the yard. To my amazement the birds gathered it ALL up and used it for their nests. I loved watching this process and was pleased to see they recycle, too!

  • Mary Ann Vass January 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    When I brush my Rottweiler, I always do it in our back yard and make sure to put his clumps of hair near the trees. I wasn’t sure if the birds would use it, but I always leave it. Reading this and seeing the video confirms what I thought.

    Lucky for my ludy back yard birds, my dog has an endless sullpy of hair(:)

  • Deb MacDonald January 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    What’s the best place to hang the bag of nesting material?

  • Sherry January 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Last year I filled a wire suet basket with cotton balls, and sure enough a pretty lil songbird made many trips for several days in a row.She gathered mouthfulls and flew off. She wasn’t gone long, so I watched where she went. Up in our Dogwood tree. I carried a ladder to look inside the nest. The cotton balls were entwined with twigs, and there were 3 eggs inside.

  • Barb Eaton January 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I have a mesh basket attached to the side of my garage where I stuff in my Collie’s fur. I’ve done this for 2 years now and the birds take almost all of it for their nests. A chick-a-dee was pulling some just the other day, maybe for its roosting spot? In this weather I don’t imagine they’re making a nest already, though they, the Titmouse and Goldfinches are going in & out of my birdhouses all the time. Love to watch and when I do my “Nest Watch” reporting I always find Teddy’s fur entwined in the moss & other items in the nests. Very cool, free and Teddy doesn’t even know he’s helping out his Ma’s birdies 🙂

  • Nanci January 31, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I live near the highschool in my town. Every year the outgoing seniors “TP” (toilet paper) the surrounding trees and every year I see yards of TP flying through the air carried by sparrows to their nests. It is amusing to watch.

  • Missy Burkett January 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Loved the video! I have a golden retriever, too. When I bathe and brush her in the spring there is lots of clean fluffy fur for the nesting birds. I leave tufts of it tucked into the branches of my bushes and evergreen trees. It doesn’t take long for them to gather it all up for nesting.

  • Sandi January 31, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Regarding nesting materials, for two years a Carolina wren made her nest in a birdhouse on a pole , out of aluminum roofing nails. They were woven as much as nails could be, about 3 1/2 ” high and topped with a small cushion of grasses and other soft materials. This bird returns to this house every year and kicks out any other bird who may have spotted the house first. By year 3, there were no more nails and no more roofs being replaced in the neighborhood.

  • Deanna Shaud January 31, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I have a long haired ginger cat and always save his hair after a brushing session. The hair tucked in an onion bag goes fast in the spring. The birds provide entertainment for Ginger all winter long viewing the feeders outside his window stations.

  • Barbara January 31, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Fur is great for nesting, but so are other things: Those of you who are needle-persons, save your thread/yarn ends to put into mesh bags tucked into bushes. I make necklaces knotted on silk and always save the snipped off bits; I know they pick out the silk over the other threads! And if you have a downed nest in the fall, take a look and you’ll see your own colored bits of thread woven into the nest. Nice to know you’re appreciated!

  • raine1200 January 31, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I grew up in a grooming business. Me Mum always put out poodle hair for the birds, but only freshly washed. So I am surprised to hear birds take hair right from the dog.

  • Bibi Kiss January 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Thank you, for all the very important tips about birds. I really do enjoy reading them.

  • Karen February 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I have pictures from a nest box with a Chick-a-dee family (mom and three babies) that is lined with hair from our Chow/Golden cross that I put out on our deck last spring.

  • Naomi Hersh Clackum February 5, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    This is such a wonderful video! I lost my beautiful Golden in 2009, and he looked exactly like the one in the video. Every time I brushed him I would take his fur and leave it outside where our wild birds could use it for their nests. I have 14 acres that I had certified as a Wildlife Habitat, so there are countless birds from Carolina wrens, bluejays, titmice, cardinals, etc that nest here every year. It’s such a great feeling to know I can help them in their efforts!

  • Lorraine February 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I just love the birds,I feed them all winter,&help in spring&summer too.

    I put a bird bath out,& in the winter,I pour hot water on the ice,so they can still take there bath,they seem to like that.Now I will put away things for there nest. Thank-you. Lorraine.

  • Mares February 21, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Does dryer lint make good nesting or roosting material?

  • Shelby March 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoy it — hope your friends do, too!