Sunday, April 20, 2008

The biggest backyard bird nest experiment ever!

Many of you may be familiar with the little backyard bird nest experiment kits for girls (left) and for boys (right) that I sell in my Etsy shop. These were developed as a result of many years of experimenting by putting out different nesting materials for the birds in my own backyard.

Now that I have a blog I have the perfect way of sharing everything about this year’s experiment with you. This year’s will be the biggest experiment I’ve ever done! I spent the day yesterday preparing 15 nest helper cages with all different kinds of nesting materials. In true obsessive-perfectionist style, I have photographed them all laid out in alphabetical order for your viewing pleasure:

Starting at the top left corner and going down each row these are the materials that will be tested this spring:

1) bull rush fluff
2) corn husk (dried and naturally purple – it comes from a piece of Indian corn)
3) cotton fabric trimmings
4) dog fur (white and squeaky clean from the dog grooming shop)
5) dog fur (dark grey and a bit smelly – a contribution from my friend’s dog brush)
6) dried grass
7) dried moss
8) dryer lint
9) excelsior
10) feathers
11) raffia
12) shredded paper
13) straw
14) string & sisal twine
15) wool

I decided to try two cages of dog fur this year. I’m curious to see if the birds have a preference for light or dark coloured fur. The fact that it’s clean versus smelly might throw off my results though, since they might be choosing based on smell instead of by colour – we’ll see.

I printed out a set of experiment sheets and have filled out sheet 1 showing what I am putting out and the date.

Now all I have to do is to drag the big, heavy ladder out of the garage and go hang them up in the crab apple tree!

(gathers up nest helpers and disappears briefly…all enthusiastic and wearing a big mischievous grin)

Ta-daaa – done! Now since we live in a wind tunnel I have twisted the hanging loops around the branches instead of just hanging them in the traditional way. I’ve hung them the traditional way in the past and it just makes it too easy for the wind to blow them down and for the squirrels to steel them.

I also use the crab apple tree for a reason. This tree is near our bird feeders and as a result it is not usually used as a nesting tree (too much traffic). Now in the case of this experiment we want traffic – so this is a good thing. It’s also in good viewing distance of the kitchen windows so I won’t need to use binoculars to check out who’s shopping at the nest helpers. In previous years I have also hung nest helpers in some of our evergreen trees. This year I’m not going to do that because I’m hoping that we’ll get some nests in the evergreens that I’ll be able to photograph and share with you.

Oooo I’m all a-twitter! Before I even had a chance to put the ladder away there was a chickadee who came to inspect the dark dog fur and I think I saw something take off with one of the feathers, but it took off too fast for me to identify what kind of bird it was. I thought it was a bit too early for the birds to be thinking about nesting, but I guess I was wrong. Looks like there are some early birds out there (he he he)

This is so much fun :o)
Kathleen (aka TheNatureNut)


Aimee Dars said...

Wow! What an endeavor--can't wait to hear about the progress.

UniqueNurseGranny said...

What a great idea.Want to hear the progress.

Hedgelands Glass Lass said...

We regularly put out nets of our cats' fur. Sadly, the big shedder in the family passed away 2 years ago and the two remaining moggies don't shed much at all. Fabulous experiment you have going. Keep us posted.

moonmystic said...

So interesting.

Heather Buchanan said...

How exciting!

H.E.Eigler said...

how neat! I'll have to tell my dad about these. Thanks for visiting my blog - glad I could make you laugh!

Anonymous said...

lots to see, good reading....

Cute & Sweet said...

Great idea! Sounds like fun!

ThePeachTree said...

This is SOOOO cool! I can't wait to hear the progress!!

Chris Stone said...

What a cool idea... and they look fun! *I'm sending your link to a friend of mine....*

Hey Harriet said...

Wow! I LOVE this project! What a sweet idea. Looking forward to the updates :)

Rosebud Collection said...

What an idea..I think it is so cute.
Isn't it fun to watch the birds? They give great joy.

woolies said...

how cool. we have 2-3 nests on our porch .... love watching them.

Melissa said...

What a cool experiment. :)

Starmek said...

i love all ur bird photos very cute