Gardening with Em: DIY nest materials

The tell tale signs of spring are starting to show, the sun is getting warmer, the days are sightly longer, wattle trees as well as the hardenbergias are in bloom & I have also noticed the activity is heating up in the garden.  Many of our feathered friends are gearing up to breed as well as indulge on the wide variety of foods so they can feed themselves and their new offspring. I don’t know if you have noticed but birds are getting vocal and lively. Their rummaging in parks and gardens is to acquire materials to build their new nests of the season.
Birds are masters in nest building, and like our diverse types of homes these avian specialists also have various types and styles of housing and they use a variety of materials to build their architectural masterpieces. One year I witnessed a Willy wagtail doing some peculiar performances around our open bin.  As I watched I realised it was pulling strands out of my scrunched up ball of hair, freshly removed from my hairbrush! I later got to see the beautifully crafted cup shaped nest on an old branch I had used for decoration sheltered by our very large nectarine tree. The nest was intricately built up with my hair, grass, and spider webs, along with slithers of plastic bag and paper bark from the tree in the garden.  It was lovely to see how it collected this variety of materials so close to home and weave it into this perfect little nursery, where they fledged three healthy chicks.
Another client of mine said how they have been seeing a lot of activity under the shelter of their callistemon tree outside their study window. When we looked I told them how the poa grass, the dropped twigs, leaf litter and the mulch material are perfect for nest building and I suspect that the birds are taking advantage of the abundance of materials. We suggested creating a nest bowl for them using natural fibres like straw, grass, cotton, sisal, coconut fibre and twigs. Excitingly their daughter reported she saw a bird repeatedly coming back to the offering departing with many building supplies.
This is also something many of you can do in your garden. Create an offering of bird building supplies in a sheltered & protected area of the garden away from predators. Fill it with a variety of natural materials and see what types of birds come to visit and maybe next year you may see some new additions in the garden.
If you want to be really generous try planting native plants that provide protection, food & nesting materials.
Good luck and enjoy the coming seasons!
Nest building materials:
  • Straw
  • Coconut fibre
  • Sticks and twigs
  • Sisal rope
  • Cotton
  • Moss
  • Wool
  • Banksia pod fibres
Plants (Victoria regions)
  • Coprosma quadrifolia- food & protection
  • Grevillea rosmarinfolia- food & protection
  • Poa labillardierei – nesting material
  • themeda triandrai – nesting material
  • Allocassurina verticulata- Nesting material & shelter. Provides food source to larger parrot species like cockatoos.
  • Banksia Marginata- Nesting material & shelter. Provides food source for nectar eating birds and insects.
This article was kindly written by Emmaline Bowman from STEM Landscape Architecture and Design | | Studio 3, 1/177 Beavers Road, Northcote, Vic, 3010


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