IOW Wild Bird Educational Resource 
Mr 'Wally' AWOL & Friends



Posted by on 15 March, 2022 at 19:45

To prevent birds falling down your chimney, please install a Cowl. Many birds see chimneys as good nesting or roosting sites. Location security, moss, insects, size of the average chimney and warm rooves will attract birds such as Woodpigeons, Collared Doves, Crows, Jackdaws and Gulls, sadly often to their detriment.

We have a separate post about the dangers of chimneys and nests.

Many people are also 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, ingrown into developing baby birds skin, or sometimes even partially or fully consumed, potentially causing choking and internal blockages.

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 our gardens and countryside with those materials.

Birds typically nest using materials such as -Small twigs

-Real feathers

-Dried leaves


-Dead Ivy

-A few collected hairs from 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.

Leave an area of your garden more wild perhaps, leave leaf litter and dead ivy veins. For those intent on helping, bird feeders/tables can be filled with the natural materials listed above. It's still helping birds out by having all they need in one place, saving them time and energy.

Thank you.


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