March 02, 2017

Making Bird Nests

Making Bird Nests

I have alway marvelled at Birds making their nests.  They are just amazing.  I have a small pond with plants growing in it at the city house.  Every year the Robins fly in to retrieve mud from the pond in their little beaks.  They use it as one of their main building materials - that and grass.  Back and forth all day and sometimes into the next day gathering mud and grass.  I wonder that they have any energy left to lay eggs.

We have found the smallest nests perched between two branches of the Blue Spruce tree.  There is so little space in between the branches that it doesn't seem possible for any bird to sit on a nest in there.  The nests wouldn't measure any more than about 2-1/2 inches across.  They are built with very thin, fine grasses with no mud or anything holding them together except the weaving of the grass.  When we looked inside of these little nests we would find them to be lined with cow's hair, a cushion for the eggs and nestlings.

I found another nest last year that was made from twigs and grass.  Woven in with the twigs and grass was dog's hair.

Over the years I have made a few nests.  If you look online you can find any number of ways to build a nest and I have tried some of them.  They look just fine, but I really wanted to try building one from grass, thinking it would look somewhat authentic to the nests I see around here.

I found two ways of doing it.   

Building Bird Nests is messy, so be prepared.

My First Method of Nest Building

Materials You Will Need

A small round bowl - I used a small sugar bowl.  (Mine was 3-1/4" in diameter                                  and 2" high.)
Soft, fine Grass - I bought some at Michael's.  It is called Rainbow Grass.  It is                             too early here to find any grass growing outside.
Twigs and Moss
Glue gun


* Cut a piece of tinfoil about 16" long.  Fold in 1/2, turn and fold in 1/2 again.  You should have a 4-layer, somewhat square piece of foil.  It doesn't matter if it is not exactly square.

* Form the foil around the outside of the bowl and fold it down about 1/8" from the top of the bowl.  This is the base on which you will attach twigs and the grass.  Leave the foil on the bowl until the outside of the nest is built.  

* Take a sheath 6 or 7 stems of grass and cut off the harder stem portions so that what is left is fairly pliable.

* Put a good dollop of glue on the foil near the top and press the cut ends of the grass into it.  Let it set and then start wrapping the grass around the bowl.  Dot with glue as you go and then glue well at the end.  Continue adding more sheaths of grass until the entire outside and bottom of the foil is covered with grass.  Glue down any stray pieces, hiding the glue under other pieces of grass as much as possible.  Trim as needed.

* Remove the foil nest from the bowl and continue as above on the inside of the nest.  I found that by wrapping the grass around a couple of my fingers that I could make a tight little ball of grass to attach in the bottom of the nest.

* Check to see that all of the foil is covered and not showing.  Glue in extra pieces of grass as needed.
Add moss, sticks, feathers, etc., and eggs.

My Second Method of Nest Building

Materials You Will Need

Small pliable branches such as Weeping Willow branches or Grape Vine
Twist ties
Soft, fine grass, Rainbow grass used above.
Additional twigs, moss, birch bark, feathers, dry leaves
Glue Gun


* Wrap several of the willow branches around your hand to form a circle.
Use the twist ties to hold the branches together.
Make several of these circles with the branches as above.
Put aside for one day or more.

* When ready to build the nest take the twist ties off the branches.  They will spring apart slightly but still remain in their circle shape.

* Use the glue gun to tack some of the layers together.  Add another circle on top if needed to build up the sides of the nest and tack with glue.  Some of the branch ends will poke out.  Use these to weave in and out of the nest.  This will also help hold it together.

*  Once the base has been formed as above, take several pieces of the grass and cut off the hard ends.  Roll the grass around your hand and place the bundle inside the base.  Make more bundles of grass as needed and place inside the nest.  Arrange the grass to cover the sides and bottom of the nest.

* If the bottom of the nest needs more support, use some of the hard ends of grass and crisscross them on the bottom, and tack down with glue.

* Add twigs, moss, dry leaves. etc to decorate the nest.

I am in awe and humbled by birds.  They build their nests with nothing more than their beaks and feet.  They weave it all together so that it stands up to the heavy traffic of their little families and the constant flying in and out of the parents when feeding their babies.

I can't begin to compete with their skill-set even when I am armed with two hands and a glue gun.

Thank you for stopping by.

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