Scrap Yarn for Bird Nests

By Rachel Choi – 26 Comments

There are many things you can do with your scrap yarn, but if you’re like me, you feel guilty for throwing it out (even if it is just a really small scrap). Here is an idea that I’ve heard lots of people talk about!

Some people put out bird feeders for the birds, but why not put out materials for the birds to build their nests with too? You can create a “bird nest kit”. To do so, use a small netted bag (like the plastic ones you get oranges or onions in), and place your scraps of yarn inside. You can also use other containers that have large enough holes for the birds to peck through. Hang it on a tree so that the birds can take materials as they need it.

Here are some pictures of bird nest kits:

scrap yarn bird nest kit scrap yarn bird nest kit scrap yarn bird nest kit

The first 2 pictures are from funinthemaking.net. The last picture is from a seller on Etsy.com: “Maddy & Me”

As you can see, you can get very creative in creating a bird nest kit with your scrap yarn!
I was also wondering if these bird nest kits would be safe for birds and the environment. What do you think and have you tried it?

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26 Comments

  1. delphinium says:

    Love it! I don’t know why I haven’t already thought of (or heard of) this!

    I’m crazy about birds and keep a feeder station year-round. We do put out crumbled up egg shells (baked in the oven for sterilization) in a pan. Egg-laying females are often calcium deprived and really benefit from the extra boost! But the yarn bits are such a good idea for nest building!

    I would be so thrilled to find a bird nest in the yard with little “trash” yarn bits incorporated throughout. :-)

  2. Jessica says:

    I also keep all the tiny ends that are left over from sewing in the ends or didn’t have enough to finish another row of the project. But, instead of putting them out for the birds…I keep them in a ziploc baggy and give them to my Project Linus director. There is a side project that goes with Project Linus that uses these leftovers for stuffing for dog beds for no kill shelters. I’m not sure what that movement is called but, just wanted to throw another idea for the scraps out there. :)

  3. Rachel says:

    Thanks Jessica, I didn’t know that Project Linus collected scraps of yarn too! I’ll have to look into that :)

  4. Sowmya says:

    wow! all of the above ideas are really good. Thank you all !

  5. Dorothy says:

    What a great idea! Thanks Rachel.

  6. Misha says:

    Hello Rachel,

    Sorry, but I read somewhere this is dangerous as the fur can cause the birds to choke!!!

    I can’t remember where I read this though! In theory it is a good idea but not if it’s harmful to them!

    Thanks
    Misha

  7. tara w says:

    i like to take my scraps out place it on the limbs of the trees
    kids like to help its almost like decorating a christmas tree
    its also fun to watch the strings dissappear makes really pretty trees
    your ideas r cute too

    sorry i cant spell..

  8. Daria says:

    HI Rachel,

    I had seen this idea a few years ago and put some scrap yarn pieces in my backyard. The birds did take it, but what happened is one of the birds must have caught the nail of his foot on a very thin piece of thread and got stuck and died up in our Martin house. At the time, I didn’t know why he died – he was just hanging outside of the Martin house dead, but the same thing happened to one my pet finches that were in a cage in my house – he caught his foot on the very thin thread of the yarn and was hanging there upside down. This happened twice and luckily I was able to untangle him and he didn’t die. It also happened to another bird outside a few months later, and I had to disentangle him by using a rake to pull his foot away from the nesting material and the thread – he squawked like he was dying, but he did get away and flew off, so I’m glad I was able to rescue him.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone or be a downer, but I would like to alert everyone that this may not be such a great idea if you care about the welfare of birds.

    • stac9e says:

      get a clue, YARN not TREAD! how many birds need to be hurt before you figure this out? and… BTW small scraps is the point. SMALL! sorry to you but really you need to read and pay attention better before you put this idea down and before you hurt any more birds!

    • stac9e says:

      awesome idea dong this as Christmas gifts for the bird lovers on my list!

  9. katie says:

    I do this, every time i brush out my collie! The birds keep warm all winter, (nebraska) winter too!

  10. katie says:

    forgot to add up there, the birds love the doggie hair, as it thick and warm for thier nests…

  11. Elaine says:

    I keep all my scrape peices for stuffing my pillows or pot holders. Oh and you can also us the lent out of your dryer to stuffing things with.

  12. Hana says:

    Daria,
    Thank you so much for addressing this. It is heartbreaking about what happened to your birds and birds in your area due to your intentions to help them. As soon as I heard about yarn given out to birds, I got so nervous. 1) Birds or any other naimals, ingesting, eating, choking on it.

    And getting tangled up, and dangling over to their death is so frightening. I hope this helps spread the word! Thanks again!

  13. Daria says:

    Hana, thank you for your comment, too. I didn’t even think to add about other animals eating yarn. For cats especially, who have sand-paper like tongues, it can cause choking, so I always try to keep my yarn in bags and away from the kitties.

  14. Birdy says:

    Greetings!

    From what I understand, the big thing is if you are going to do that, cut the pieces really short so they can’t tangle up in them.

    I wish I had gotten a pic of the Texas nest that had a six-pack ring-set woven into its structure – the ultimate in recycling! (Tho’ you should be cutting those too – this bird was lucky.) Mamma-bird seemed very pleased with herself to be raising her babies in such a nest.

    In my collection, there are a couple of no-longer-in-use nests made from the brush-leftovers from the households hairbrushes. It’s beautiful, the delicacy with which the nest was woven – and with no hands! I am in awe.

    Bright Blessings & Good Fortune! :-)
    -Birdy

  15. Hana says:

    Please do NOT put out yarn scraps to birds. I had learned last year from a person that she forever regretted, and was so sad. She warned us all in a crochet group about the danger and NOT to. One killed her pet bird with just small scraps. They can choke on, get strangled, and injured from them.

    So sorry to break the good thoughts on it; I myself was thinking of doing that until I was warned, and a few others responded that they had sadly also killed without meaning to, the wild birds. :o(

  16. marilyn says:

    i too leave scraps for the birds to use…..but i do NOT leave individual threads out….i always leave small (at least 1/8 wide strips) and 1-4 long so they aren’t heavy and shouldn’t get tangled :-)

  17. Megan says:

    I love these ideas, now I feel bad for having thrown out my extra scraps… I use the bigger scraps to make scrap scarves, but now I have something to do with the scraps too small to use… Thanks <3

  18. crowjoy says:

    Such a cute idea! Here are the nesting materials guidelines from the Cornell Lab

    Dead twigs
    Dead leaves
    Dry grass (make sure the grass hadn’t been treated with pesticides)
    Yarn or string—cut into 4- to 8-inch pieces
    Human or animal hair (especially horse hair) (use short lengths—no longer than 4-6 inches long)
    Pet fur (Never use fur from pets that received flea or tick treatments)
    Sheep’s wool
    Feathers
    Plant fluff or down (e.g. cattail fluff, cottonwood down)
    Kapok, cotton batting, or other stuffing material
    Moss
    Bark strips
    Pine needles
    Thin strips of cloth, about 1 inch wide by 6 inches long

    http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1144#nesting

  19. Bunny says:

    Bit late, but to those of you worried about bird safety… it’s the length of some scraps that can cause problems for birds. Keep the pieces short – no longer than 6 inches, ideally around 4-5 – and the birds can and will use yarn, fibre for felting/spinning, animal hair, human hair and feathers from old pillows. I imagine it would also help to stick to single-ply yarns as well, or teasing apart the separate strands of plied yarns, since that will reduce the number of little loops that a claw could get stuck in.

    If you have chunky, natural-wool yarns like merino or alpaca, you could always cut them into short pieces, like an inch or so, and pull them apart to make little fluffy pieces – the birds can use those as bedding in the nests rather than as part of the nest itself, like they do with tufts of wool from sheep in the wild.

  20. Vicky Lynn Toler says:

    I just found your blog today and I LOVE IT! You are the best! Thanks so much for everything! Big Hugs! :)

  21. Daria says:

    The length of the scrap does not matter. It’s the fiber of the yarn that gets tangled into the bird’s tiny claws when they are feathering their nest. They can’t break away from the thread and they just hang there and die. But you don’t have to listen to what I or others have said here, you can experience it for yourself and learn that way not to use yarn scraps for birds. If you do happen to notice a bird hanging there, you can always grab a rake and pull them away from the nest that way, though they will sqawk like they are dying, but at least you will have freed them from the yarn fiber entanglement.

  22. karen says:

    When I get my hair cut I throw the hair in my flower beds to keep the rabbits from eating the flowers. I save dryer lint for the birds….heard that they love to line their nests with it.

  23. Jenni says:

    I wanted to share this with my fellow crafters. I have see the yarn scrap bird baskets online before. I had read bad things on this. I wanted to check with an expert so contacted CLAWS Inc. This is how they responded: Many birds will get this stuff stuck on their toes, causing them to sever, some will also ingest it and get impacted. I would not do this. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/67835538107247570/

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