NESTING... HELPING OR HURTING?
Many people are not aware of the dangers associated with one's supposed good deed of leaving out materials to help nesting birds.
Cut hair, cut fabrics, string, soft knitting wools and tumble dryer lint are believed by many to be good nesting material sources for birds. People are proud to have helped nature...
Sadly, this is one of the largest causes of something typically known as 'string foot' :-(
Thin threads (twine, string, cotton and hair) can get wrapped around the legs and toes, all too frequently leading to deep cut wounds, arterial strangulation, infections, gangrene and subsequently loss of toes, legs or even loss of life due to sepsis. Tumble dryer lint can also contain harmful chemicals used in our washing cycles and retain moisture making it doubly unsuitable for nesting material.
Those birds with 'stumps' or hobbling around in town with nasty looking feet, most likely have or suffered a 'string foot' injury.
The same types of materials can also become entangled around beaks, necks and feathers or sometimes even partially or fully consumed, potentially causing choking and internal blockages.
Birds typically nest using materials such as *small twigs
*a few collected hairs from clumps of animal fur (such a sheep's wool or horse hair snagged on barbed wire)
*cut grass/hay and straw.
Some small amounts of animal short furs are OK (not cat because of a deadly bacteria known as pasteurella). Even horse hair can tangle although more rarely. Do not use fur from long coated dogs and certainly not human hair. Of course, birds will readily use these if found in nature but we can reduce hazard by not purposely supplying large quantities of it in big clumps post grooming.
In the same way we may want to prevent sea creatures consuming plastic by not littering, we can prevent birds becoming crippled and sick also by not littering.
Bird feeders can be filled with the natural materials listed above. It's still helping them out by having all they need in one place, saving them time and energy.