Nesting materials for birds are a hot topic in the bird world. There are safe nesting materials and there are dangerous ones. In this blog post, we will discuss all of those safe and unsafe nest-building items that you can use to help your feathered friends secure homes for their eggs and chicks. We’ll also go over some things that should be avoided at all costs when choosing a safe material for your feathered friend’s home!
Click here to view a printable list of safe and unsafe nesting materials.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Nesting materials for birds
When choosing safe nesting materials for your feathered friends, it’s important to consider the following factors:
Nesting Material Safety
- Safe or dangerous? View our list at the bottom of the article and compare.
- Is there a choking hazard?
- Can it wrap around a limb tightly and cause blood circulation loss? (Ex: Human and animal hair)
- Can it poke an eye out or cut the bird?
- Does it or has it ever contained pesticides?
Ease of Use
- Does this material need any special tools in order to use it safely and effectively? If so, what are they? (Example: Boiling, Cutting)
- Does the nesting material fit inside the small hole or space of the nest entrance? Is there enough room for all eggs or chicks born into that nest box once it’s added?
- Can the bird physically move it or lift it? (Varies by species and size of the bird) (IE: Is it the right length and weight).
Types of nesting material for birds
There are mainly 2 types of nesting materials safe for birds. Organic and Artificial.
Within those 2 categories falls several subcategories, Such as soft, rough, stiff, flexible, sharp, smooth.
Birds in the wild will use whatever they can get their beaks on, but this is not safe for domestic birds. Some of those things, such as plastic wrappers, other trash, oily rags, plastic bits/bottles, etc are all bad, dangerous, and sometimes even toxic.
In a healthier wild environment, birds would normally use organic safe materials, such as dried grasses and leaves, twigs, feathers, etc; So when trying to think up different nesting materials you can give your birds, it’s wise to think “would a bird in the wild use it”. You should also cross-reference it with the list at the bottom of this article.
Instructions for putting out nesting materials for birds
Adding the nesting materials to your cage is easy. Simply place it in a safe location, such as the corner of your cage or on top of/near a perch. Your bird will then find it and use it to build her nest!
No special arrangement is necessary, simply tossing it into a heap or pile is fine.
You may also purchase a nesting material holder/dispenser for ease of use. Either way is fine.
The bird will pretty much do all the work so you don’t need to worry about much other than the things you give her. Make sure they are safe and on the list below, If you think of a material that isn’t on the list, Let us know in the comments so we can add it and recommend its use or not.
You should give them a variety of safe nesting materials to use, and not just one type. Birds will use different types of nesting materials for different parts of their nests. Often the rougher harder stuff will be on the bottom as a “support”, While the lighter, fluffier stuff will be on top as a “lining”.
So it’s a good idea to give a bit of everything from hard to soft, Such as twigs and cotton and down.
Should you put nesting material in a bird box yourself?
No, The birds will do this themselves. It’s best to just leave the materials at the bottom of the cage and allow them to go to work. It’s a fun process to watch, and I personally recommend adding a live feed closed network (or wireless webcam) camera in the nest box assuming it’s large enough to fit without getting in the bird’s way.
You can also buy a nesting box with a camera preinstalled into a little nook for maximum viewing angle and space. These are much less intrusive.
A list of safe and unsafe nesting materials