May 2019 - Nest building materials

For good behaviour, our young puppy was given one of his favourite treats today – the cardboard tube from the centre of a toilet roll! Out into the garden he proudly carried it, to lie stretched out in the sunshine, where he enthusiastically shredding it into little pieces. Two minutes later he was, of course, back at my side and ready for the next ‘game’.

A while later I was watching two sparrows carrying tiny fluffy white feathers, collected from around the garden and delivering them timidly to a nest box to make a luxury soft lining for their nest.  Imagine my surprise when I then noticed a jackdaw strutting from the pile of puppy shredded toilet roll with a beak jammed to overflowing with cardboard pieces. He too was nest building, but this jackdaw’s larger stick-built nest was going to be lined, with ‘cosy’ shredded cardboard.

Birds are clever and will make use of anything in their environment that will make suitable nesting material. I once saw a blackbird’s nest held together with pieces of wire gathered from outside a factory.

How about lending a hand this month to the birds in your garden? Try bundling up some short lengths of different natural nest building materials and string the bundles up in trees and bushes around the garden. What might the birds choose? We’re trying short pieces of real wool, straw, dried moss and we’ve even brushed our older dog to make a bundle of soft silky dog hair!

Helen Howes May 2019

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This article has been written by our lovely friend Helen, a Sustainability Consultant and Forest School Practitioner with over 30 years experience working with learners from preschooler to adult.

Helen is in her element making woodland cocktails and mud pies with both young and old, is an inspirational Forest School Leader and Outdoor Educator, and has received much positive feedback for the quality of the learning she initiates.

She will be sharing more of her favourite outdoor activities in this month-by-month blog titled “From the Forest”.