From time to time I have been asked where on earth the idea for the nest helper came from. Here is the story:
It all started with an innocent article in a quilting magazine. The article suggested that quilters could lend a helping hand to their local wild birds at nesting time by hanging thread clippings, fabric trimmings and dryer lint out in the trees. The article said that the birds would really appreciate them.
I thought it was a wonderful idea. As a quilter I make mounds of thread clippings. When I paper piece I end up with piles of fabric trimmings and when I pre-wash new fabric the lint trap of my dryer fills with pretty coloured swatches of lint. So I just couldn’t wait to get started and for the rest of the winter I dutifully collected my quilting scraps for the multitude of wild birds that come to visit our yard in spring time.
When spring came I brought my box of “goodies” outside and draped some of them over the branches of our crab apple tree. I didn’t see any birds taking them, but the next day they were almost all gone. So I put out some more and the next day they were gone too. The following day it was so windy that I couldn’t get the goodies to cling to the branches. That’s when I noticed where they were all going. They were just getting blown away. A few were tangled up in the weeds around our gazebo, but the rest made a scattered path of coloured fabric shreds and dryer lint extending out about 400 feet from the crab apple tree over to our neighbour’s property :o(
Now when you live in the middle of a bunch of flat corn fields it’s like living in a wind tunnel. There’s nothing out here to block the wind, so I don’t know what I was thinking when I painstakingly hung those weightless bits and pieces out for the birds.
As the days passed I continued to empty my collection of threads, trimmings and lint by “decorating” the crab apple tree with them. The wind took care of littering the lawn with most of them. I gave up trying to watch to see which birds would take them and tried to content myself with the knowledge that my goodies were most likely going to good use.
When it was time to start working on the garden I was rummaging through my garden shed, silently cursing as I moved around all these rolls of snow fence that we no longer used. We had purchased the fencing to protect some 60 reforestation trees that we had planted the year we bought the house. Two years later the little sticks we had planted had grown as tall as me and were no longer in need of any winter protection. So the snow fence crowded my garden shed and every year I moved the rolls of it from one side of my shed to the other as I prepared for the summer.
And as I picked up a roll of fencing to move it a light bulb went off in my head, I decided to try using a piece to make a cage for the nesting materials that I had been saving for the birds. I hoped the cage would help to keep the materials together and in the tree where I could see them. So I got my wire cutters and sniped out a rectangle then folded it in half and lashed it together on two sides with wire, leaving one side open for stuffing. A wire hanger completed that first crude version of the cage. I stuffed it with goodies and hung it in the crab apple tree in a spot where I could see it from the patio door. And that’s how my first nest helper was born!
A few days later I was rewarded for my efforts when I saw a sparrow clinging to the wire cage and pulling out threads which it then took off with. A few minutes later the sparrow was back for more (or maybe it was a different sparrow – who knows) and I watched, fascinated as my nest helper was gradually emptied of its contents. The cage definitely did the trick by preventing the goodies from blowing away.
When I started my Etsy shop I made a listing for a nest helper – just for fun. It sold within a few hours. I was surprised, but even more so when I got a convo from someone else asking me if I was going to be making more of them. So I did, and the design evolved from that first crude version to the designs you can find in my TheNatureNut Etsy shop today.
And that, my friends, is the official story of how the nest helper was born.
Have a wonderful day!
Kathleen (aka TheNatureNut)