The First Day of Spring

by Susan on March 20, 2011

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Dear ones, today is one of my very favorite days of the year. Today we celebrate surviving another cold and gloomy winter, and are rewarded with the first hints of buds on the trees, daffodils, blooming tulip trees and the general feeling of renewal that comes along with Spring.

At the farm we are eagerly anticipating the imminent hatching of the eggs Ethel has been sitting on seemingly forever and , of course, the lambs that could start arriving anytime now. There’s an energy in the air, a feeling that everything is potential and just waiting to burst into being. It’s pure magic.

I have a little project I like to do on the first day of Spring. It’s crazy easy, so easy that you could do it with even the smallest of children, inexpensive and environmentally friendly to boot.

You will need:

A cheap bird suet feeder. I got this one at Tractor Supply for $1.99.

A couple of handfuls of yarn scraps, cut into 4 to 8 inch lengths.

Put the scraps in your suet feeder and voila! You’ve just provided nesting materials for all the birds in your area.

I’ve been doing this for years and I never fail to feel a thrill when I see a bright strand of yarn carefully woven into a bird’s nest. You can also fill your suet feeder with raw fleece, if you have any handy. Ernie’s fleece scraps have always been particularly popular with the birds.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology gives yarn scraps a thumbs up.http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1144 (Scroll down to “Nest Material”). I have also gotten approval from the Audubon Society BEFORE posting this. In other words, actual EXPERTS approve of this project. I’m sure that whatever your cousin’s neighbors best friend had to say about is interesting but I am sticking with EXPERT opinions on this.  But thank you.

{ 63 comments }

1 White Feather aka Chickadeeworkshop March 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I love this idea! And, of course, momma birds need extra energy for egg making and then feeding, so actual suet is a good idea, too. Lots of homemade recipes for various combinations of seeds are available online. I can’t wait to fill up one of my emptysuet feeders with yarn, though, thanks! I hang cleaned out birdhouse gourds, too. The house wrens love them.

2 Chantal Bourgonje March 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm

What a lovely idea! Birds are building nests under the thatch of my cottage roof, and this might help them make it lovely and soft! I will try this out for sure!

3 Catherine March 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Oh, a lovely way to use the ends of yarn! There is a bag of “too pretty to throw out- too short to use” which is about to become nesting material.

I have already engaged in my spring ritual: bought seeds and started flowers. Our lovely CSA takes care of the veggies; so, I can use all of my space for pretties.

4 Heather March 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I started Spring on Friday night. It was an unusual 75 degrees, the moon was full and the lights on the field had just turned on. It was the start of baseball for my family and we considered it the best way to welcome Spring. Spent the entire weekend at games(tournament for both boys) knitting away my nervous energy.

5 Pam Wood March 20, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Still under 3 feet of snow! Can’t get to my suet feeder to put out my yarn scraps yet or to even refill it with suet. Have wire feeder on porch that will do just fine until mud season. Hopefully the thaw will come in small increments so I won’t have to drive thru too much mud!

6 Anne March 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

What a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion and I’m going to fill up a suet feeder tomorrow!

7 Leslie from California March 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Susan, had to run an errand today and sent my husband in to get a suet holder. Our yarn holder is hanging in the tree in the front so we can see the momma birds come and pick out the yarn for their nests. Thank you so much for the idea of the suet holder, I had been saving the scraps from all my recent crochet project and wow, it was just perfect!

8 Carolyn C March 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I live in the city. I keep some of the fur that goes into the brush when I groom my 2 cats. I place small clumps in the bushes in a nearby park for the birds and squirrels to line their nests. Makes me think they enjoy the fur of one of their nemises.

9 Jenn C. March 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

A few years ago, I bought a beautiful “yarm ball” from a farm in NH called Riverslea Farm – a ball woven of wicker, stuffed with fleece ends. Every year we refresh it with new bits of fleece and I very much hope there are some warm birds out there enjoying my spinning dregs.

10 Shelley Noble March 20, 2011 at 10:05 pm

ok. That’s genius!!! Never would of thought of it and yet I can see it’s pure magic. Seeing brightly colored yarn in nests? Are you kidding me?! Insanely magical.

JMF: Making the World Magical©

Best wishes for the upcoming lambings.

11 Alice in the Heartland March 20, 2011 at 11:24 pm

What a great idea. So simple and so nice for all the birds we have at our bird feeder this time of year. I think I’ll get a supply of them and take it to my knitting group so we can fill them with donated yarn and the library can sell them or we’ll give them to a local no-kill shelter that needs a fund raiser. Lot’s easier than felted cat beds.

12 knittingfool aka lori March 20, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Oh Susie, you’ve been holding out on us! This is wonderful, and as soon as I find a suet feeder, it’s happening at Casa de Knittingfool.

13 turtle March 21, 2011 at 2:09 am

great idea! will work much better than the netted bag i used last year!

14 Suzy March 21, 2011 at 2:43 am

Today a friend and I planted seeds that will become tomato plants for the community garden…It was my friends very first time to ever plant seeds!
Happy Spring everyone!

15 fran March 21, 2011 at 7:43 am

Ahh!! totally missed that yesterday was the first day of spring, even after I pointed it out to my co-workers Friday!! I spent a good part of the day collecting supplies to make square foot gardens. Next weekend the assembly and hopefully transplanting!! LOVE all the ideas about providing nesting materials. Thanks and Happy Spring to all!

16 Chris March 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

Oh, I love giving birds stuff for their nests. One year, I repurposed an entire old cotton sweater that way. It was great fun to see giant wads of blue sweater in the trees, over the next few months. :D

17 Rachael March 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm

What a sweet idea! I like the idea of cheering up my yard, helping out the birds, and using up scraps of yarn all at the same time!

18 Herbi March 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

This is fantastic!!! My youngest and fiber protege’ will have a blast doing this!

19 Joan Malcolm March 26, 2011 at 12:34 am

I hate to be a spoil sport. I thought it was a good idea until I read where it is dangerous for the baby birds. If they get their feet caught in the yarn, they’re doomed to not be able to get out of the nest.

20 Susan March 26, 2011 at 12:59 am

Can you tell me where you read that, Joan? Cause I got the idea from the Audabon Society and I can’t imagine they would advocate it if it wasn’t safe.

21 Cara October 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology gives yarn scraps a thumbs up. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1144 (Scroll down to “Nest Material”)

22 Megan October 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm

cute idea, but we had a nest in our yard with string in it, a baby bird caught his foot in it when trying to leave the nest. The mommy and daddy bird would not let us near the nest to help and the poor sweet birdy died! :(

23 Susan October 18, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Megan, according to the Cornell Ornithology department, yarn is no different than things they find in nature. Some times baby birds get tangled in nesting materials. It whether it’s something they find or something we put out, it just happens some times. Cornell recommends putting the yarn out.

24 Judy Hante November 6, 2011 at 12:19 am

I love this idea. Birds use all sorts of “findings”, they are the original collage artists. Thanks for posting this.

25 Rhomany November 8, 2011 at 8:54 am

I do this too, also thin scraps of fabric and the lint from the dryer filter. It disappears quickly, especially if you hang some bacon and seed feeders underneath as well.

26 John November 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Great idea. How far away have you spotted what might be from your source of nesting materials?

27 Buffie November 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I googled it once and you can touch birds and the parents won’t not touch the bird again. I put a bird back n it’s nest once and the mama bird just watched me real real
Closely but never tried to attack me. It’s a cute idea

28 Nana December 2, 2011 at 12:08 am

This is a marvelous MAKE & TAKE project for my grandson’s class at the school Spring Fling. Will be looking for even more inexpensive containers for the kids to put the yarn in. Does anyone have any ideas for Nana?

29 Lucia December 28, 2011 at 12:32 am

Susan: I LOVE this idea. My husband feeds all varieties f birds, but this is another way to help our feathered friends.

Nana: what about Strawberry baskets? I know they might be harder to find right now, but that would be an inexpensive recylable item.

30 martie bruner January 20, 2012 at 9:49 am

this would be beautiful and i think the birds would appriciate the help lol a soft bed with color

31 Janet January 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

What a great idea ! Thanks for sharing.

32 Connie January 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

What a FUN Spring Tradition!! Thanks for sharing.

33 Shayla Hunter February 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I love this idea! Going to Tractor Supply tomorrow! Thank you for a great new tradition!

34 Mary February 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm

PLEASE!! ONLY USE PIECES 2 TO 3 INCHES LONG!!! I have seen many hung birds with string, yarn, or fishing line in lengths too long.

35 genderist February 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm

We put out hair after we get our hair cut, too.
Read that in a children’s book once and have been doing it ever since.

36 Theresa Wiza February 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm

What colorful nests the birds would have. I love this idea. I may not be good at decorating my own home, but I would love to point out colorful nests I helped decorate ;)

37 LaDonna Loehrke February 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm

What a colorful idea! I can’t wait to do this, as I love watching the variety of birds that hang out in our area. And it never fails that they pick our chimney to build a nest on so I can watch the little ones out my window as they grow. :)

38 Khristine Rivers February 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm

wow! i will definitely do that.. specially there’s a parakeet village up on our tree… :D i just saw some mama birdie making another nest… i just hope Leroy Marlin here in Madrid sells suet feeder… thank you for sharing :)

39 Lerissa February 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I love this idea. But I keep hearing that it’s dangerous not for birds — but for cats and dogs who may eat the yarn if it falls on the ground. Now, I personally think the fear is overblown, especially if the pieces are only 3″ long. But I was wondering if anyone has a veterinary opinion on this. Longer pieces of string can definitely mess up a pet’s intestines. So, assuming a bird drops one or two or six 3-inch pieces, and assuming a four-legged finds it … what about those short ones?

40 Tee February 17, 2012 at 8:34 am

Love this, and your disclaimer to all the Debbie Downers cracked me up!

41 maggie belle February 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Great Idea – also if you put out dyer lint – make sure it is woolen lint or loaded with pet hair -

42 Liz February 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I noticed that several folks above commented that the yarn should be shorter lengths and I would concur. I have seen the damage done by longer lengths of yarn, ribbon, string in both wild & pet birds. Any part of their bodies could get tangled in the longer lengths. I have worked for an avian vet in the past, and I now volunteer for a wildlife rehabilitation on the coast. We see tangles of every kind of ribbon, string, line, and yarn washed up on shore……and sometimes around the legs of seabirds. I would think that one to two inch lengths would be much safer.

43 Mary February 21, 2012 at 8:19 am

@ Liz thanks for your post.

44 Jan February 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I make mittens out of recycled sweaters. Do you think those sweater scraps would be good to use too? thanks

45 Pat March 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

I love this I had hanging baskets with micro fibers the birds loved them and it was fun watching

46 Mandy March 10, 2012 at 9:41 am

@Nana – you could use plastic strawberry baskets and make a handle from a longer piece of yarn.

47 gillian March 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

YAY!!!!! Finally a GOOD project to put all my lose ends to good use…
THANK YOU!!!

48 Sabrina March 11, 2012 at 11:03 am

This is such a great idea! My three year old and I will have such a great time doing this. Plus it gets all the scrap yarn the husband calls annoying out of the house and in to good use. Thanks for the research and the wonderful idea. Our birds will thank you this spring

49 Jane March 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm
50 Chris March 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’m taking this project to my knitting guild. I think they’ll get a kick out a great way to use up those snips of yarns! BTW, my SIL is a very active certified wildlife rescue/rehabber for over 15 years. She specializes in small and medium mammals like squirrels, possums and raccoons doing rescue and release, but she’s taken in all sorts of injured animals and birds and she’s been putting out dryer lint and yarn for years for her wild friends. I think she’s even used this idea, so I’m eager to ask her. This colorful offering of nesting materials will look just right in our garden! Thanks!

51 Monique @ Planting a Truffula March 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Hi! Thanks for the great idea! I just published a blog post about my own I made today. You can see it here: http://plantingatruffula.blogspot.com/2012/03/welcome-spring-bird-nesting-materials.html

52 Linda March 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Where is a good place to hand this yarn birdfeeder?

53 Fleur March 29, 2012 at 4:03 am

Wonderful idea, really love it!

I made my own: http://www.bluemarkforme.com/?p=1097. But mine is mono colored… why? Read the story.

54 Catherine Whittier April 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Hi! I just love this idea and thank you for sharing it. I just finished making mine and hope my little collection of bluebirds will enjoy all the colorful strings! I wish you had a Facebook share button available on your website.
Happy Spring!

55 Robin April 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

I also throw dryer lint out for the birds.

56 Karen Clark April 4, 2012 at 6:44 am

I have featured your fantastic idea in the UK crafts forum Blog
http://blog.craftsforum.co.uk/2012/04/04/nesting-knitters-and-crocheters/

57 Brandy April 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

This is a very creative idea. My only hope is that people stay true to your instructions and don’t go too off track with their own versions. Using a suet feeder is perfect, since it is made for birds; if you use another type of metal container, make sure that it has no zinc or parts that will easily rust (things that can be toxic and deadly to our feathered friends if ingested).
Also, be certain that you cut the yarn to the specefied lengths – you don’t want there to be any knots! An overzealous bird could get his head or neck caught in a tangle of thread and it could spell disaster for what could have easily been prevented. When making this or any project for birds, just keep their safety in mind!

58 Kelly O' April 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Hooray! What a wonderful idea. I am saving this one for classroom use! Bright Blessings to you!

59 Anne Goodine April 7, 2012 at 9:24 am

I have always tried to compost, recycle, reuse in some way the materials I have at home. With all yarn that I had left over from knitting projects, I would send to my neighbour as she would make finger puppets for the children in the hospital.
Now I can also help out my winter friends by supplying some yarn for their nests.
This is a great idea!!
I’ve learned something new this morning :-D
Thanks so much

60 Jessie April 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm

We have one hanging up in our backyard now – thank you!

61 Lesley April 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm

This is such a great idea. I’ve been saving my scraps for months and just made my own. I’m posting about it on my blog with a link to this page :) http://byporchlight.blogspsot.com

62 Amanda Tempel April 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm

This is such an amazing idea!

63 Janice April 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

I wish I had found this before. It’s the end of April now. Pinned it and will do it next year for sure. Thanks for the idea.

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