birds

What Do Birds Use To Make A Nest?

Birds make a wide variety of nests, but where do they get the material to make them? What do birds use to make a nest? Let’s find out.

Have you ever looked at a bird nest and wondered what these winged architects used to make it?

Well, bird nests can awe anyone, for they are truly works of art. Although not every bird is as skilled as the weaver or the tailor bird, even some of the simple bird nests are quite amazing.

As if the complexity of bird nests wasn’t awe-inspiring enough, you’d be further amazed by the variety of materials they are made of.

Ranging from natural materials like twigs and grass to man-made materials like strings and wires, the list is simply impressive.

 

What Do Birds Use To Make A Nest

 

What Materials Do Birds Naturally Use For Nest?

Birds are smarter than most might realize, and they know exactly what materials to use for sturdy and cozy nests.

Different materials serve specific purposes in a bird’s nest, such as providing structural integrity or creating a soft bed for the eggs. The most common materials you’d find in a bird nest are:

  • Dead leaves
  • Dry twigs
  • Human Hair
  • Animal fur
  • Dental floss
  • Spider web silk
  • Feathers
  • Cotton balls
  • Paper
  • Plant fibers
  • Straw
  • Grass clippings
  • Strings and threads
  • Pieces of fabric
  • Bits of waste and litter
  • Mud
  • Pebbles and stones
  • Pine needles
  • And more

The next time you find yourself awestruck by the complex design of a bird’s nest, remember that it might contain a dozen or more different materials.

 

What Do Birds Use To Make A Nest

 

Why Are Spiders So Important in Nest Building?

Learning that spiders can potentially play a major role in nest building probably surprised you, right?

After all, why would birds need an entirely different species while building nests to lay their eggs on? It’s the spider web silk that’s necessary for nest building – not the spiders themselves.

Assuming that you are familiar with spider webs, you must be aware that they can be quite sticky.

This is exactly why birds use it – to glue together various nesting materials like lichens, leaves, straw, etc. Besides its adhesive properties, spider silk is also very lightweight and easy for birds to work with.

Some Birds Live on Borrowed Land

Although most birds build their nests from scratch, there are exceptions. Some prefer to live on borrowed land, such as:

  • Old nests of other birds
  • Natural holes in trees
  • Holes in roofs and walls

Reusing nests of other birds isn’t very common as most nests are only sturdy enough to last one season.

However, if in case a nest is still robust enough by the time the next season rolls around, other birds might move in. 

Even when reusing an old nest or settling into a hole in a tree or a building, birds do have to make a couple of modifications, such as laying a fresh layer of soft materials on top.

In this regard, you might want to note that many bird species avoid nest reuse altogether, as they use their nest-building skills to woo partners.

 

What Do Birds Use To Make A Nest

 

How You Can Help?

Who doesn’t love to live in a lively environment full of birdsong? Well, regardless of whether you want more birds around your home or simply want to help them build their nests, here are a few things that you can do:

  • Lay out a pile of nesting materials in the open so the birds can take what they need
  • Place nest boxes in strategic places for birds to build their nests in
  • If you can help it, hold off from trimming your shrubs and hedges as birds often nest there
  • Install a suet feeder so that any nesting bird would have easy access to food

Materials safe to put out

Putting out materials for nesting birds is certainly a kind gesture. However, make sure you don’t put out any materials that might endanger them or their offspring. 

Not all sorts of materials that birds use in building their nests are safe, and some of these can pose major hazards.

As a thumb rule, simply provide them with natural and chemical-free materials, such as:

  • Grass clippings
  • Twigs and small branches
  • Leaves
  • Mosses and lichens
  • Natural fibers
  • Feathers
  • Bark strips
  • Pet hair and fur (only if they’re free from flea treatment or other medications and chemicals)

 

What Do Birds Use To Make A Nest

 

Materials that you should never put out

Now that you know which materials you should put out to help birds build their nests, you should also know which materials to avoid. 

Ignorance on this matter can potentially endanger the lives of the very birds you’re trying to help out. Some of the materials that you should never put out are:

  • Plastic and synthetic materials: Plastic and synthetic materials like polythene and nylon wires can cause the birds severe injuries.
  • Human hair: Due to its thin, strong, and flexible nature, human hair can wrap around a bird’s wings or legs and sever off the part.
  • Dryer lint: While dryer lint might seem like a fine material for birds to line the inside of their nests, it can easily crumble when wet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1.       What birds use moss to build their nest?

Moss is great for padding and lining inside bird nests due to its soft texture. Various birds like Red-breasted nuthatches, Ruby-throated hummingbirds, Winter wrens, Cedar waxwings, starlings, etc., use moss to build their nests.

2.       Do birds use human hair for nests?

Human hair is a very common material used by birds in nest building due to its soft and lightweight nature. However, it is highly unsafe for the birds as getting their legs, wings, or neck tangled in human hair can ultimately lead to their death.

3.       Do birds use gum to build nests?

Birds don’t usually use gums to build their nests. You should never put out gum with nesting materials, as gum sticking to their feet can cause the nesting birds a great deal of trouble.

4.       Which bird uses its spit to make its nest?

Swiftlets, which are mostly found in Asia, use their saliva as key nesting material. Although it might sound gross, these edible nests are a key ingredient of nest soup, a Chinese delicacy.

 

What Do Birds Use To Make A Nest

 

Wrapping up

Well, I hope this article has cleared up your curiosity regarding the materials birds use to make their nests.

In case you’re planning to help them with it, now you also know exactly what you need to provide them with. 

Thank you for your time in reading this article and trying to learn more about those wonderful architects of nature.

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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