Do not provide human hair for birds to use as nest material. Human hair is very thin and can easily find its way around a bird’s leg, neck, or wing. This will cut off circulation and serious injury or death may occur.
What You'll Learn
Humans love helping out animals. One of the ways many humans believe they can help birds is by providing loose hair for birds to use as nesting material.
Contrary to popular belief, human hair is not a good nesting material for birds since human hair is thin and strong, which can cut off the bird’s circulation if caught around an extremity or neck.
Instead, you can grow or collect various safe nesting materials to provide birds during nesting season.
Safe Nesting Materials for Birds
Birds will build nests from whatever materials are available to them, so there are many kinds of nests. Some birds, like bald eagles, create large and sustainable nests that take 3 months to make, can sustain over 4,400 pounds, and are reusable year after year! Whereas some birds make quick, simple nests taking only 2 days to make.
Many people, from bird lovers to those who want to help the environment through recycling materials, want to participate in the nesting process by providing nesting materials for birds to use. It is important to be familiar with what should and should not be provided and how to safely provide these materials.
Do’s and Don’ts
Safe nesting materials that you can provide for birds include dry grass, dead leaves and twigs, feathers, moss, plant fluff or down, pine needles, and bark strips.
Unsafe nesting materials that should never be provided to birds include tinsel, plastic strips, human hair, aluminum foil, dryer lint, felt, or yarn.
Human hair, plastic strips, tinsel, and yarn are too thin and strong and can cause a lot of harm to birds if they become tangled in them.
Dryer lint absorbs fluid and will make the nest wet. It can crumble in the rain, leaving holes in solid nests. They also may have remnants of chemicals such as detergents and softeners, which are not safe for birds to inhale or consume.
Growable Nesting Materials
You can plant trees or shrubs around your home to provide nesting material for birds. These include catkin-bearing trees, cottonwood trees, lamb’s ears, honeysuckle, and milkweed.
Keep freshly cut grass after cutting and leave the pieces to dry in a spot. You may find the pile getting smaller during nesting season.
Finally, if you notice you perpetually have a spot near your house that is always in the shade, you may be able to grow moss (a favored building material for some birds)!
Common raw materials you can gather to provide birds as nesting materials include fur, wool, natural fibers such as yarn, twine, fabric, cotton, or hemp, and snakeskins.
Animal fur is a great source of nesting material as it does not soak up water and will keep birds dry.
Dog fur is an easy source for most people to gather and a great way to use the extra fur that your dogs shed out during the spring season. A simple way to gather dog fur is through brushing or currying your dog and collecting the shedded fur.
Other types of animal hair you could use include sheep or goat fur and wool. Just be sure to cut the hair into 4 to 6-inch pieces.
Be sure any animal hair, fur, or wool obtained has not recently been treated with insect repellents or flea dips, as these chemicals can be toxic for birds if incorporated into their nests.
Natural fibers also serve as nesting materials since they do not retain water, which will help keep the nest dry.
As these materials will deteriorate naturally over time and are similar to items birds can find in the wild, they make for excellent nesting material.
Make sure to cut any natural fibers into pieces under 6 inches in length and as thin as 1 inch or less. Any thinner or longer could be a safety hazard. Also, be sure to skip any materials that are made up fully or in part of synthetic fibers.
How to Safely Give Birds Nest Supplies
Even if you provide a birdhouse for the birds in your neighborhood during nesting season, they will inevitably build a nest. If you want to provide nesting materials, be sure to do this safely. You can either grow plants that offer the nesting materials birds typically use, or you can offer raw materials to them.
How can you do this? If you have grown nesting materials, birds can gather small twigs from your trees and shrubs; soft plant matter from your catkin-bearing trees, fluffy and silky seeds from cottonwood trees, lamb’s ear, honeysuckle, and milkweed, mud from your mud spot, dry grass from your grass clippings pile, and velvety green moss from your shady spots.
If you have collected nesting materials such as dog fur, be sure to give them to birds in a safe manner. You can take all your collections and leave them in a feeder, with easy access for birds to sort through and take what they need. You can also leave snakeskins and natural fiber strips hanging in a tree or shrub for birds to find.
Avoid Human Hair
In relation to the main question…It is not good to provide birds with human hair for nesting materials because of the safety concerns caused by very thin and strong hair strands.
There are many ways you can safely obtain and provide nesting materials to birds, such as growing natural materials or collecting sustainable items and putting these in a place where birds can easily access them, such as a bird feeder or hanging them from a tree.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.