Sunday, March 28, 2021 2 comments

How to be a bird nest buttinski


A couple of years ago I wrote a Dirt Diaries posting about how creating a garden journal can make you a better gardener. If you haven’t read it before, it’s worth clicking on the link to take a look.


In the posting, I mentioned how a journal or even a simple calendar can be helpful in figuring out when you need to take action in the garden. For example, since we moved to the mountains full time in 2011, I have been keeping notes on when the first hummingbirds visit Hunt manor. (If you haven’t written down hummer arrival dates, you can also check this migration map.)

Last year and in 2018, hummingbirds made an appearance on April 14th. But in 2015, we spotted the bright little jewels on April 7th. Now I know that is the date I need to get the feeder ready to go and hang out my “hummingbird helper.”

I purchased this nesting aid a couple of years ago because I thought it would be interesting to see the birds pluck out the “quick-drying & pre-cut natural cotton nesting fibers” for their nests. The hummers didn’t show much interest, but the chickadees, wrens and tufted titmice did.

Tufted titmouse

 I thought I’d add a few other goodies like my hair, threads and pieces of yarn to be even more helpful. Turns out I was doing all the wrong things. 

According to the March issue of Birds and Blooms Extra, hair, yarn and string are nesting materials to avoid. Strands could be deadly if they get caught on or wrap around birds. Dryer lint is another no-no. Birds will use it in nests, but it dissolves in the rain.

 So what should I offer if I want to help my friends feather their nests?? This year I will tuck in some pine needles, plant fluff from cattails and bits of moss. The article mentions straw, twigs and dead leaves as other possibilities. If the birds fancy those, they can pick them up themselves. Oh and hummers like to use spider silk. Can't help them there either!

 I’ve just read that my gardening friend and fellow blogger Janet the Queen of Seaford has spotted two male hummingbirds today. She lives about two hours south of me in South Carolina.


With hummers that close, I should start getting everything prepared for the 2021 season. Then I’ll be ready, willing and able to lend a hand.

Whether the birds want it or not.