Recycling for Songbirds

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Help your feathered friends prepare their nests by providing building materials.

MOTHER’S readers send in their best tips.

Your dream has come true! You have your country home at
last and are eager to share life with all the flora and
fauna of the area.

You’ve hung a bird feeder, filled a birdbath, and now you
look forward to the beauty, music, and insect-eating
benefits of songbirds around your country space.

If you want an additional source of interest and amusement,
this spring set yourself up in the building-supply business
for birds. Every public library and bookstore has books
with instructions on building a variety of nesting and
roosting boxes for such desirable birds as finches,
bluebirds, purple martins, wrens, robins, phoebes, song
sparrows, chickadees, swallows, orioles, cedar waxwings,
and owls. These boxes are a perfect way to use scraps of
wood left from larger projects. Birds prefer rustic
“architecture,” so the amateur carpenter need not worry
about perfection. In the South, hard-shells gourds have
long been used effectively as nesting boxes.

Of course, songbirds have natural sources for nest-building
materials, but you can augment these and have fun at the
same time.

Start by collecting an assortment of twine, yarn scraps,
narrow strips of soft cloth, dried grass sterns, and small
twigs. Even bits of lint from the clothes dryer will
attract some birds, and what better way to recycle them! Be
sure the twine and yarn pieces are no more than four inches
long, so the birds won’t hang themselves on them.

Pile these nest-building offerings on the ground. Select a
spot where you can watch from your favorite window.
Sparrows use almost anything, but many birds are choosy and
will work hard to extract special items from the pile.
Comic moments are sure to occur, adding another dimension to bird watching.

Marcia Brown McQuaid
Austin, Texas