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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bird nesting material ball

Supply the birds in your area with some nesting materials. You can encourage the birds to build their nests in or around your yard. Birds don't really need our help and can make due on their own. But in the suburban land of manicured lawns and well kept yards there may not be as many materials laying around for them as there are in more rural areas. So it cant hurt to help.

I was trying to figure out ideas for extra scrap yarn when I saw people online mentioning putting it out for birds. So I checked online to see how to go about doing that and I found some crochet/knit forums were discussing it and saying its probably not a good idea. That they could possibly get tangled in the yarn and basically saying don't do it. But I had heard of people doing this before so I looked into it further. I found multiple bird lovers or bird watching sites that were all for it. As long as the scraps are cut up into small bits that are less than 2 inches in length and natural fibers are best. The humane society even listed it on their website for nesting materials. So after seeing all of that I decided to go ahead with making one.

Things you will need:
Twine or yarn
A balloon
Glue (4 oz bottle or larger)
Petroleum jelly (cooking spray can be used if you don't have it)
Bird nesting material (see below)

Your bird nesting material can be made up of many different items that you probably have laying around. There are also some items that should not go in them. Here are some articles about birds nesting material, from The Humane Society and Wild Bird Watching. You can find premade bundles of nesting material but, why pay for that when you can DIY.

Grass or straw
Pine needles
Horse or pet hair (unless its been treated with a flea/tick ointment then no)
Yarn (pieces smaller than 2 inches)
Small pieces of cloth (pieces smaller than 2 inches)

Things to exclude:
Dryer lint
Animal or human hair that has been treated with chemicals (such as flea and tick repellent)

First things first.. You need to make your sphere. Blow up a balloon (do not blow it up all the way) so it is around the size you want your sphere. I made mine smaller than a cantaloupe but larger than a softball. I like that size personally. This will get messy and these spheres have so many decorative uses so... if you're gonna get messy make it worth it. I recommend making more than just the one (or two) you will need for your nesting feeder. Check out Pinterest for some ideas. Many people use them with old xmas lights around the yard and it looks gorgeous! Anyways, back to the current project (stop craft day dreaming!) Next up is mixing your glue and cornstarch
4oz bottle of glue (elmers or generic is fine)
1/2 cup corn starch (flour can be used as a substitute)
1/4 cup water
Mix those all up. The mix should be runny but still somewhat thick.

Next, figure out a place to secure your balloon. You have to hang it. I poked a little hole in the end of my balloon so I could run some string through it to hang it.

 Then lather it up with petroleum jelly so everything wont get stuck to the balloon (cause that's no fun).

Prepare your twine by running it through the mix. You can either just let it run through the mix or cut the amount you think you will need and toss it all in the mix. Make sure not to get it tangled up because that will slow you down. I cut mine and tossed it in so I was sure it would get fully saturated.

You're ready to get started creating your sphere! Get ready for very messy hands! Have a damp rag nearby or a clear path to a sink because your hands will have the gluey mess all over them. Wrap the twine around the balloon. Remember you will have to fit your fingers in there and stuff thing inside so don't go crazy with wrapping. Once your done let that dry overnight.

Come back to it the next day and pop that balloon. Little specks of dried glue may fly off when you pop it so be prepared for that. Personally, I'm a wuss and never just pop it, I do the wimpy move and cut a small slit and slowly let the air out. Either way works. But more power to you if you're tough and can handle to pop it without flinching or blinking. There may be little died pieces of the glue mix on the sphere just pick those off. If there is a lot grab an old toothbrush and gently rub them off.

Now we are ready to fill it up! Gather your materials and gently stuff them into the sphere. Keep in mind that this is a functional yet decorative piece for your yard so don't just stuff it in there willy nillly. Take some time and make it look nice. I stuffed mine with pine needles, twigs, yarn scraps and some roving merino wool.

Now that you've got it all loaded up its time to go hang it. I took a piece of extra twine and slipped it through one of the parts on the sphere and tied it around a branch.

You're all done! Now sit back and admire your wonderful bird nesting material ball thingy. Isn't it lovely?!

I just love the look of it and knowing your helping those adorable little birds feels great!

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