DIY Bird Nesting Balls
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
If you’re like me, you look forward to the robins in spring as they make their nests and signify the coming of warmer weather. My daughters and I love to hear hatchlings throughout the neighborhood as new birds call for mom and dad to feed them! In the past few years, however, I’ve learned how important winter nests are for our year-round avian friends and we can help support them.
After shearing our goats last year, I noticed our neighborhood birds collecting the fiber that had blown into the grass. We have a large bird population here with red-winged blackbirds, tufted titmouse, robins, cardinals, chickadees, finches. Since moving here I’ve become enthralled with watching our birds! I soon took to Google and found how to collect the fiber and create a feeder of sorts to allow free access to nesting materials: the bird nesting ball.
Bird nesting balls are very simple contraptions. They’re typically spheres made from natural materials (i.e. vines or pliable twigs) or wires with a cavity in the center. Homeowners can easily fill the cavity with natural fibers and materials for birds to collect and use as they construct their nests. The materials used to fill the nesting balls should provide warmth, but not retain water in case it rains. Cold and wet are never a good combination! For this reason, I recommend natural fibers from animals or non-synthetic cotton. What’s great about Pygora fiber is that its lightweight, incredibly warm, and dries quickly if wet. Not only would it provide material for spring nests, Pygora could also provide enough insulated material to keep our winter residents safe in the coldest of nights.
This year, I was able to find grapevine balls made from bird-friendly materials. What drew me to these balls is that they’re specifically made for birds to retrieve treats. Made from natural vine, if these balls should fall into the yard or blow away, they won’t pollute the neighborhood and will naturally decompose.
Some of the balls were tougher than others to fill due to being tightly woven, but for the most part stuffing the Pygora fiber into the cavity was relatively easy. I used the eraser end of a pencil (with two kids in school, there are lots of pencils floating around) and a jeweler’s screwdriver for the smaller holes.
Using second and third cuts (non-prime fiber unfit for yarn), I stuffed the balls until fiber would be easily accessible by passing birds.
I added a small piece of biodegradable hemp twine to hang the balls; one from our blue spruce tree and one next to our backyard bird feeder.
If you’re interested in encouraging birds to nest in your area, you can purchase a bird nesting ball filled with 100% natural Pygora fiber in our shop. Once the fiber is gone, you can either order refills through our website or add your own natural materials! Down works as well as natural cotton (be careful of synthetic fibers as they can retain moisture and cause harm). I’ve heard of some homeowners offering dryer lint to local birds, but please use caution with this as well as lint can retain water and also contain synthetic fibers from your clothes.
We’d love to see pictures of your bird nesting balls, homemade or otherwise! Tag us with #goatsandcloves