Bird Nesting Material
Alpaca Shop at Hensting Alpacas
100% Alpaca fleece is an incredibly soft, strong, lightweight and completely natural product, an ideal nesting material for garden birds. Alpaca fleece has excellent insulating properties, which protects the alpacas from the extreme temperatures of their native home, high in the Andes. When placed in a suitable holder, birds can easily extract what they need for nest building as, unlike sheep’s wool, the fleece does not contain lanolin. This fibre is produced by the alpacas at Hensting Alpacas. It is completely natural and has not been cleaned.
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Birds use a wide variety of nesting material, from grasses, mosses, and twigs to animal fur, bits of string, mosses, mud, spider silk, and more. Some birds will even use more unique materials such as strips of plastic bags, snakeskin, or aluminium foil. Despite the variety of materials different birds may use, however, they can be picky about exactly what they choose to construct their nests with and how different materials are interwoven. Adding nesting material to birdhouses is not usually a good idea, and the birds that want to use the house may simply remove any well-meaning additions before they begin nest construction. In the end, this makes more work for the birds and makes a birdhouse with included nesting material less attractive overall.
While most birds are picky and will simply remove or rearrange any added nesting material, birds that do not build elaborate nests may appreciate a thin layer of coarse sawdust or small wood chips added to a birdhouse or bird nesting box. Birds that would naturally chip out a nesting cavity, such as woodpeckers, are not put off by sawdust or wood chips in the birdhouse, and the nesting material can help insulate and cushion any resulting eggs. Owls are also amenable to this nesting material because they are used to reusing old woodpecker nesting cavities. If a birdhouse is specifically meant for owls or woodpeckers, a layer of sawdust or fine wood chips up to one inch thick can be added to the house but be sure the material is coarse enough that it cannot cause breathing difficulties or a smothering hazard for young hatchlings.
Because most birds do not appreciate nesting material added to birdhouses, birders need to find other ways to attract birds with nesting material without making the actual nesting sites less promising. Options include:
- A small puddle nearby for mud and gravel
- A convenient pile of pine needles, small twigs, and grass clippings
- A mesh suet cage or net filled with cotton fibres, short bits of string, or fur
Many wild bird stores and online retailers offer nesting materials in balls, cages, or other attractive packets that can be hung out for birds to pick from. Hanging or setting these and other nesting materials near promising nesting sites, including birdhouses, can encourage birds to build their nests nearby. Birders can then watch the birds claim nesting material to learn where nests are located for fun viewing, even if the birdhouse isn't a favourite location.