material in treeMost gardeners love wild birds and encourage them to visit their gardens. Birds help control insect populations and their presence indicates a healthy environment. Many of us include bird feeders and birdbaths in our landscape and many erect nest boxes and dust baths.

Birds start searching for nesting materials each spring and many of us are delighted to provide them. Offering these items sometimes turns into a messy experience, so this Frugal Gardener will focus on a project designed to present nesting material in an attractive container that birds will happily access.

Once completed and filled with the proper materials, you should soon see bird parents making use of the items to build their nests. Here are some tips and suggestions that will help you offer your birds suitable and safe objects.

Birds like string and yarn, however, cut your pieces into lengths between 3" and 8". (7.6cm to 20.3cm) Shorter pieces aren't as attractive to the birds and longer pieces are hard for them to handle.

Pet fur makes appealing material, but avoid using hair from pets treated with flea control medications.

Avoid plastic or nylon materials...birds will accept them, but they are dangerous for them to use. Plastic and nylon are responsible for many bird injuries and deaths each year.

Do not offer dryer lint. Once damp, it disintegrates and clings to damp feathers and nestlings.

If your spring isn't damp, provide a ‘mud puddle' for the species that like to use mud as construction material. Some people offer a pan full of mud, but many report that the birds prefer their mud right on the ground.

For this project, you'll need wire and a few decorative beads. The wire should be flexible enough to bend with your hands. The beads are strictly decorative and optional...I used a couple of old junk jewelry necklaces I had laying around. You'll need a bottle or similar shaped object to use as a form and some wire cutters.


I used an empty vinegar bottle for my form, it was about the right size, but in hundsight, a bottle without a rim at the bottom may have made the job easier. My wire was just a touch heavier than I would have liked, but it was what I had on hand and was strong enough for birds to perch on it.

step 1

Start wrapping the wire around your bottle, making sure you make several turns at the narrow end. It isn't as easy as it looks, and some folks might find it easier to have a partner to help.

2nd step

After wrapping a number of turns around your bottle, slip it off and adjust the bends to tighten or loosen the coils.

3rd step

Turn the coil around and wrap the bottle in the other direction. Once you have plenty of coil, spread a couple apart and slip your bottle out.

4th step

You end up with a coil that is narrower at the ends and a wide middle. By increasing or decreasing the number of coils, you can adjust the size of your nesting material holder.

5th step

Clip the wire, leaving a generous tail. You'll bend one end into a loop for hanging and the other end gets crimped in a tight hook.

6th step

I wanted to decorate my holder, so I threaded some beads on the wire. It isn't necessary, but I thought it would add a more polished look to it.

7th step

Here's the finished holder with the beads threaded and ends crimped. The top loop easily accepts a hook. The bottom end could also be secured for birds that prefer a more stable surface for perching.


Materials suitable for nest material could be fiberfill, pet hair, yarn and fabric strips. I also raided my broom for some sturdy straw.


Start filling your holder with the various material, making sure that everything is easy to access and remove. I pulled the fiberfill apart into smaller tufts and worked the yarn and material in the mix,making sure that nothing was tightly stuffed.


The birds should love their new nesting material holder! It is attractive (to bird lovers) and easily replinished when empty.

Attracting wild birds to your garden is satisfying and pleasurable. With suitable habitat shrinking every day, creating wildlife-friendly areas is important to many species' survival. Even if you don't create this unique material holder, a clean suet feeder can be stuffed in the same manner. Feeding stations, fresh water, nest boxes and nesting materials encourage birds to visit your garden and remain to raise their families. This Frugal Gardener helps with this by offering birds suitable materials from scraps and in an attractive manner that cost practically nothing.