Build a bird’s nest from natural materials found outdoors – this activity makes an engaging small-group activity and an impressive capstone project for an environmental study unit.
Wild birds use various natural materials to build their nests, shaping and arranging them with their beaks. A successful nest must be large enough to hold eggs as well as its creator, stable enough for wind resistance, and camouflaged against potential threats like predators.
Let’s find out how to make a nest for a bird!
Make it Attractive
Birds construct their nests in various places, from shrubs to tree branches to rocky ledges. One thing all nests have in common is being made out of natural materials gathered by birds themselves; this STEAM project challenges students to see if they can successfully construct a safe home for an egg using only natural materials found outside.
Attract birds into your yard whether you reside in an urban, suburban, or rural setting by providing safe nesting sites and enough construction material. Twigs, grass stems, sticks and leaves provide valuable resources while not overcrowding their habitat too much. Many species will even scavenge for resources in compost piles and other concentrated storage spots for use in their nesting.
This activity works well during Spring when wild birds are creating nests. Watch birds in your yard or along a local nature trail to gain insight into which materials they prefer. Take this opportunity to introduce engineering and design concepts into the classroom–for instance, some birds make more durable nests by weaving softened palm fronds into them for greater comfort for their eggs.
Assemble a bucket full of materials you believe would be ideal for your bird’s nest building, such as twigs, feather grass (if it grows nearby), mosses and bark. Avoid including items treated with dye, pesticides or anti-flea treatments; add long pieces of weedy grass or fabric scraps if needed to add stability to their nests.
As soon as you’re ready, lay out all your materials and decide the shape you would like your nest to take. Add a layer of moss at the base, before layering other materials on top. When your basic structure is ready, use an adhesive to keep everything in place while it dries completely.
Put your nest through its paces by gently blowing on it while placing an egg inside. See how it stands up against this test of strength!
Make it Easy to Access
Birds are excellent architects, and build nests to meet their individual needs. Help build homes for future feathered friends! Simply lend a hand by contributing materials or providing building services.
At any time of year, this STEAM activity is great to do, but particularly during spring. Birds are becoming active again and you may notice signs of nest building in your neighborhood; trees and hedges may still remain mostly leaf-free making it easy to see activity!
To create your own bird nest, collect natural materials (as mentioned above) and combine them in a mesh bag, suet cage or grapevine ball. When using either option, tie or glue the opening closed before hanging your nest where birds will take advantage of it!
Attracting birds requires selecting an area free from chimneys, barbeque grills, gutters, drain pipes, and dryer vents that could potentially pose hazards to young and adult birds alike. If you find an unwanted nest in such locations it may be best to leave it be and encourage birds to build in an artificial nesting box nearby instead.
Although many may believe using dryer lint as nest filler is acceptable, it should never be. Dryer lint can become too fluffy when dampened and even hold onto animal fur or smells that could potentially harm birds.
Utilizing natural materials like twigs, branches, bark, moss, and more resembles what wild birds would use to build their nests. If you want to add decorative flair consider including bits of string, paper shreds, confetti, or even colored eggshells as decoration.
Once completed, return all materials back outside where you found them. It would also be prudent to recheck their location regularly in case the nest is being used by eggs, chicks or brooding adult birds; in such an instance it would be prudent to wait a week or so before trying to remove it.
How to Make a Nest For a Bird Safe
A bird’s nest can make an attractive mantel decoration as well as being an educational craft project for kids indoors and outdoors. When building one, use only materials found naturally in nature that won’t harm wildlife – such as twigs, sticks, grass blades and leaves held together with natural binding materials like mud; for an added twist add string, confetti paper shreds or fake eggs as embellishments!
Remember that birds use old nests for nesting purposes and create new ones as needed, so if you come across one it would be best not to interfere at all, particularly if there are eggs or fledglings present in it. Human noise and disturbance could easily drive parents away while leaving scent trails from human hands could attract predators directly towards it.
Crafting a bird’s nest can be an engaging way for children to gain knowledge about ecology. But keep in mind that native birds will repurpose any materials they can find, so only use natural materials from your backyard or nature walk – no dryer lint or pet fur please!
Jennifer Gordon, executive director of Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in North Carolina, notes that many common materials used as nesting material may actually pose dangers for birds. For instance, human hair can entangle hatchling legs and wings and string can wrap tightly around their bodies, restricting circulation as they grow. Dryer lint may trap moisture that chills babies as well as foster mold growth while dissolving in the rain.
As an enjoyable family activity, take your children on a nature walk around your neighborhood to spot where birds are building nests and gather natural materials to build one themselves! You might also suggest taking part in an egg-laying contest and seeing who wins their own individual nest-building challenge!
Make it Easy to Clean
An essential feature of an ideal nest for egg laying is how easily it can be maintained and kept mite-free. A hen will feel much happier to use one where she can access and clean it without much bending or crawling, keeping it mite-free, which ensures she will return regularly to lay her eggs there.
Due to predators and easy accessibility, many hens prefer nests which provide shelter from predators while being easy for them to reach. Therefore, birdhouses may provide the ideal platform for creating nests. Furthermore, too low nests may become hard for the bird’s parent(s) to access while also becoming targets of attack from other birds or predators.
Make a nest that’s easier to clean by opting for natural materials over synthetic ones like twine and glue, such as twine or glue. Artificial materials tend not to attract birds and could tangle up their beaks. Try storing nesting materials in recycled onion mesh bag, suet cage, grapevine ball or another container; cut string or ribbon into 3-6 inch segments so it doesn’t tangle around future residents’ beaks.
Once you’ve gathered all your nesting materials, take them outside to test out your creation. Gently blow on or place an egg into it to see how well it holds up; if necessary add more moss or sticks as extra padding in order to make a secure base for the nest.
Add small branches or dried weeds to the bottom of your nest for extra stability, or attach a bucket directly to a branch so you can monitor for signs that your hen may soon start laying eggs.
Build an actual nest or simply introduce nature learning with this STEAM activity for kids – either way it’s sure to be a hit! Particularly now when trees and hedges have fallen and it’s easier than ever before to spot birds around us!