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Friday, November 1, 2013

Time to Start: Wild Bird Nest Material

bird nest material--sewing thread
Everything for this project was free to me. Still, you can make this almost free. 

suet holder
The suet feeder is about 20-years-old. The little boys who worked in my yard found it in tall weeds. ??? At any rate they wanted to know if I wanted to throw it away. Nooooo! Originally, the suet holder was dark green. It was sooo rusty.  There is dark green spray paint here, but I sprayed painted it this pretty blue. In the basement I have a new suet holder bought on sale at the end of the season. However, I think they are only $2, full price.

utility knife easily cuts the thread off
tall spools with thread removed
These are not my largest spools. I think I have 30+ spools that have rotten thread on them. If it says 100% cotton, I know it is about 25-years-old, I know it is weak before I test it. There are another 70+ spools that have thread that is usable for sewing
People use these spools for crafts--angels at Christmas, containers of candy to hang on the Christmas tree. Someone will receive these rather than my throwing them away. 

about half of what I own on a garden bench
For my machines, I needed at least three spools of the same color. Actually, if I thread three machines to use on one garment, I need 7 spools of thread and one bobbin of that color. I know you have been wondering why I have duplicate spools. There is a dollar bill on one spool to show you the size.
Back to the bird nest material. You can save thread all winter long--crochet thread, sewing thread, yarn from crochet or knit projects, any strings whatsoever. Save small shreds of fabric, torn into strips. Find a place to save them all winter--maybe a plastic bag, plastic mayo jar--in your choice of container.
I used a crochet hook to pull a few threads out. Next spring, I will pull out more. A bent paper clip will work to pull out a bit of thread.
By the time spring rolls around, you may have found a container for the nest material instead of the suet feeder. Try using a berry box or two. Use twist ties to put two together and a string, wire, or a long twist-tie to hang the finished container. I know that with the rudimentary instructions, you can make something next spring.
You could also use a mesh bag from produce. Bags that oranges or onions come in would be perfect.
In the past I have hung thread scraps over a low bush. Then, I decided to use the suet box. After the birds ate the suet block that came with this, I always put thread in it for the birds. I have no idea how it was lost in weeds.
* a container: suet feeder, berry box, mesh bag
* nest material: yarn of any kind, thread, strings of any kind, thin strips of material

Here is one Sue made.

Your turn
Have you ever offered scraps and string to birds for their nests? Do you have a suet box/holder to reuse for nest material?


  1. It always gives me a start to see links to my posts, a pleasant one. :-) As you know, I love this idea. I was too late to do it last spring, but am ready for nest building season now.

    Wow! you have a lot of thread. Do you still sew?

    1. Sue,
      I always link to posts if I can remember where I saw something. Usually, my mind is firm about where I need to return. Then, I I have mine wrapped up in the gardening stuff, ready to go. The basket has been in weeds for two years.

      I cannot get to my machines in the front of the house. In my mind, I still sew. I have not given it up. So, yes, I still sew.

  2. What a wonderful idea! I will do this next spring. My grandmother never cut her hair. She wore long braids coiled around her head like a crown. Every other day she would comb it out and re-braid it. She would toss the stray hairs into the bushes, You would find birds nests on their property that were woven with her hair. Here in our yard the birds like to go after the coconut liners in the hanging baskets.

    1. Janet,
      That would be a wonderful find! Something keeps dragging my coconut liner off the porch. Everyday, it is in a different place. Maybe today I will put it under the plant, where it goes. I will have to check and see if birds are pilfering it.

  3. I put out our hair and the cat's hair. I had never thought about threads before. Thank you. Our nest building season is all but over, but I will remember this for next year.

    1. EC,
      I knew this would not be immediately usable, but at least you can prepare for next spring. Of course, I had plenty of spools of thread. I am sure everyone has bits of string or thread for the birds next year to add to the cat and human hair.

  4. Another reminder of what I left in Indiana. Birds.

    1. lj,
      You have no birds? How sad. Have you tried feeders or plants/bushes/trees they like? WHY are there no birds?

      Now is time to think about the cardinals that love my yard.

  5. I have straight hair to my waist, and I shed like a cat! I've often thought of leaving my hair out for the birds, but I was always afraid of a clump blowing into the neighbor's yard or the driveway (I live in an upstairs apartment) and knew it would be immediately identifiable as mine! (All my nearby neighbors either have short hair or curly hair!)

    The suet holder is a brilliant idea! I'm going to make a note on my 2014 calendar to look for one as soon as the dollar store puts out its gardening stuff in the spring. Re-purposed hairballs! Linda, I get some great information off your blog!


    1. Oh, I forgot to add that I have a few tiny old spools of very old thread that I can use up this way too. There's too little thread on them (and like yours, it's too weak) for any real use. I had kept them as novelties, but they are taking up space in my "real" sewing supplies. (I can mend a ripped seam and make the occasional Barbie outfit to amuse a child, but that's about the extent of my sewing these days.)

    2. Jess,
      I do save the little spools that are wooden even when the thread is gone. I took my wooden spools (dozens) and transferred them to a box just for saving instead of cluttering up my "real" sewing supplies.

    3. Jess,
      Yes, your hair would be recognizable! I wonder if Dollar Store suet baskets are cheaper? I will have to investigate. Remember, you can use something around the house to hold the hairballs.

      I am glad you can use any of my information. Thanks.


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