Nature’s Reuse: The Bird’s Nest

By Liesl Clark

Plastic Nest for a Creative Bird. Photo © Liesl Clark

Plastic Nest for a Creative Bird. Photo © Liesl Clark

It’s woven completely with synthetic fibers, delicately interwoven threads that must’ve come from a farmer’s discarded netting. Could the use of plastic fibers be a good thing for the bird family? Undeniably, the nest is a work of art woven so tightly the insides are completely weatherproof. One might call it perfection in plastic, nature’s ultimate reuse, here to stay forever, unlike its natural counterparts. The photos don’t do it justice, but take my word for it these fibers are man-made of polymers.

Synthetic nest of perfection. Photo © Liesl Clark

Synthetic nest of perfection. Photo © Liesl Clark

The nest was found on the ground in a Colorado mid-mountain wetlands, having fallen from reeds or a tree branch above. Is it the nest of a swallow or phoebe? Please let us know your thoughts of if you have any insights. And if you have your own images of birds’ nesting materials that came from humans, we’d love to see them. We’re currently looking for an occupied nest near our home that we can monitor for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s program called Nestwatch. If you spot a nest this spring, watch it and report your observations back to Nestwatch to help them gather more data on our resident birds.

Like our feathered friends, we humans can be resourceful too! Please visit our Trash Backwards app where you can input any item and find a reuse for it. Try fabric scraps, for example, and you’ll get results that will make you want to hold on to those scraps for a rainy day project:

Click Through For Fabric Scrap Reuses at Trash Backwards

Click Through For Fabric Scrap Reuses at Trash Backwards

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Categories: Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


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4 Comments on “Nature’s Reuse: The Bird’s Nest”

  1. Terri
    April 4, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Thank you for posting this. Much to think about. Not sure about what the construction material is, but you seem to have it figured out. I have seen plastic bags woven into some birds’ nests. Sad.

    Just did a quick search to learn more about this. Seems has a list of items to make available to “help” birds with their nest building. I notice “yarn, thread, dental floss, broom bristles, mop strings” on the list of items to leave out for nest building followed by a “tip” that says plastic, nylon and fishing line can be deadly to the birds and can injuries.

    Seems the author of this About article is uninformed about what some yarn, thread, dental floss, broom bristles, mop strings are made of — plastic and nylon sometimes/often??

    To pick this apart some more, it seems mop strings could have cleaners in them that the owner probably wouldn’t think about washing before offering as nesting materials. (Not that many cleaners could ever be washed out of a mop.)

    Hair, if it is long seems a really bad choice for nesting material as well. Seems it could cause great injury to birds.

    The article does address part of your query about whether plastic is good for birds to build nests with and raise their young in by saying synthetic materials can cause deadly injuries to both adult and young birds. But it doesn’t say anything about the chemical ramifications of plastic nests.

    Another thing that came to mind was a presentation I saw at the Carolina Raptor Center where they rehabilitate raptors and permanently keep the ones that can’t be released back in the wild. The presenter said that mice use cigarette butts as nesting materials alongside highways. The food source for the mice is tossed out fast food. The raptors come to the highways because food (mice) is readily available and are unfortunately hit by cars while they are hunting food. The number of how many raptors end up at the Raptor Center because of this was staggering.

    My apologies for this being long. Thank you again.

    • April 5, 2013 at 9:56 am #

      Thank you so much for your added research, Terri! It’s hard to imagine how a thread of polyester or plastic twine would be more dangerous for a bird in their nest-building than a horsetail hair. The nest we found was so beautifully woven out of plastic threads, there was no chance the thing was a hazard for the little babies that hopefully grew inside. Having said this, I’d never “offer” threads of plastic to the birds for nest building. Organic and natural fibers are clearly the best bet. Thanks for your help and suggestions for clarity.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

      • Terri
        April 5, 2013 at 11:59 am #

        This post and conversation really got me thinking. Thank you for writing it.


  1. Magpie nest opposite my window | Dear Kitty. Some blog - April 6, 2013

    […] Nature’s Reuse: The Bird’s Nest ( […]

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