As we get closer to spring, you‘ll likely start seeing memes and blogs suggesting that you help birds build their nests by leaving materials like yarn, string, human hair, and pet hair outside. Please, please don’t do this!
Wild birds don’t need help to find nesting materials. They’re everywhere and birds instinctively know where to look for them! They may become confused and accept yarn and other materials given by humans, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Long strands of yarn, string, or human hair often become wrapped around the legs or wings of birds, causing them to eventually lose circulation or the ability to fly. Hatchlings are especially susceptible to death when they become entangled in these “gifts” in the nest, and as they grow, the material will become tighter until it amputates a limb. Yikes!
Pet hair, yarn, string, and human hair are also full of materials that can be safe for us but toxic for birds, which are much more sensitive. The fragrance in your shampoo, dye in your yarn, and flea products in your pet’s fur are all quite dangerous to birds.
The best nesting materials that you can give birds are the ones that are already outside! Leaving twigs, leaves, grass clippings, and native plants in your yard can help to create a natural habitat where birds can thrive. Leave the litter out of your yard and dispose of your waste responsibly.