Feathering the Nest

Being owned by one fluffy white cat means that regular brushing is part of the daily routine.  And now, my daughter’s fluffy grey cat has come to stay with us for the summer while she’s in Alberta.  So, there’s certainly no shortage of kitty fluff around!  Especially after the two boys have had a playful romp.

I was cleaning up the aftermath of just such a “tango” and released a good-sized ball of cat fluff to the brisk, afternoon breeze.  When Charlie chastises me for not putting it in the garbage can, I always laugh and say, “It’s okay, the birds will use it.”  (Even in the winter!)

http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/images/april08/moustache.jpgBut it is a very kind thing to do, especially this time of year, to help birds build their nests by supplying them with bits of most any soft, clean material.  Pet hair would be a sure winner, but any bits of fluff:  leftover pieces of yarn, dryer lint, cotton batting scraps, even tiny bits of frayed fabric all help to insulate and soften the birds’ summer homes.

These materials can be tucked into the crooks of trees, snagged on shrubbery, or left to hang in a netting type bag or small basket — if you supply it, they will use it.

(Click photo for photo credit)

Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

16 thoughts on “Feathering the Nest”

  1. I found a nest in our yard, years ago, with Easter grass trailing down out of it. It was such a colorful nest. The nest on our front porch has cellophane woven into it.

    It’s amazing what they’ll pick up and use. :)

  2. I used to giggle to myself thinking of my old Saint Bernard’s fur ‘feathering’ a nest when I set her fur on the wid. She was a big old softy – must have felt lovely. (Very sharp looking design!)

    Oh yes, I think a St. Bernard could feather a few nests! :) I’m glad you like the new design — something a little more colourful for spring.

  3. I love the visuals of he Easter grass nest: would that be nature imitating art, or the other way around? This is certainly a creative recycling of pet waste products, Nancy! My pet fluff story: I once know someone who spun and wove a hat out of Siberian husky fluff. VERY warm; I tried it on.

    I have heard of people saving the fur of their pets and having them turned into articles of clothing — seems like a good idea to me. I’m sure a Husky’s would be doubly warm!

  4. Luna’s white fur lines many bird nests around here. It is amazing to put out a huge hand full of fur and it will be gone in no time this time of year.

    Yup, I’ve seen birds swoop down for bits of fluff, sometimes having fairly long pieces of string hanging from their beaks. The crows are the ones who really amaze me — you never know what you’ll find in their nests as they love shiny things as well as soft ones. :)

  5. Great reminder, Nancy! We have three longhaired cats indoors and I’m sure the birds would appreciate their “extra” fur a lot more than we do! (Ditto for dryer lint!) Thanks for a wonderful tip!!!

    I’m sure the birdies will thank you!

  6. Thank you for this post Nancy. We feed the birds and keep their birdbaths clean but I never think about supplying fluff for them! I am horribly allergic to cats but we do have to rabbits that produce as much fluff as some kitties. I bet I could place that out in the garden for the birds. Not to mention I have PLENTY of wool yarn scraps!

    Thank you for this idea. It works perfectly for my son’s Nature Studies as well! :)

    Glad to be of help. :) Oh my, rabbit fur! What a wonderful, snugly lining that would be!

  7. Nancy, what a timely reminder! I knew this…but I don’t think of it when I empty the lint screen on the dryer or brush the dogs. I have a new bagless vacuum–I wonder if the lint in there would be ok to put outside? It certainly contains a lot of dog and cat fur:)

    I think what you vacuum up would be perfect for nesting materials — they’ll pick through what they can’t use anyway. :)

  8. I put all our cat fur into a suet holder and hang it on a tree branch. The birds are out there all the time pulling the fur from the holder.

    That’s a terrific tip for a holder! I’ve also seen people using the net bags onions come in.

  9. What a good idea. Although the most interesting material-hunting I’ve seen lately has been bees: I’m assuming that’s what they’re up to, taking away tiny bits of damp earth, as there are no flowers or even foliage just there.

    Yes, that’s what they use for mortar in their summer homes. :) Isn’t Nature grand?

  10. Thanks for reminding me! I was trying to remember all winter to save somethings for the birds. We, living in a condo, have a super collection of dryer lint. And I was going to leave out some yarn and other “stuff” for the birds.


  11. Great photo Nancy and great tip from KeeWee about using the suet holder for fur. I hadn’t thought of that! I watched a Western Kingbird fly back and forth from our patio to his nest construction site one afternoon, collecting dryer lint I had placed outside. He didn’t stop until he had collected every piece! My Mom used to spin the discarded hair from my Persian cats. She never got enough to actually make anything but it was super soft. This winter, I saw on Martha Stewart that she had one of her Chows hair spun into a sweater (I think?). It may have even been posted on her blog.

  12. Interesting. I didn’t know they would use pet fur. I would have thought they wouldn’t like that it smelled like a cat/dog.

  13. I do the same thing! After I brush Ellie I put the fur outside for the birds to use in their nest. I’ve even them take some. So cool! –Jackie

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