How to Help Backyard Birds Build Their Nests

My older son is quite the birding enthusiast and this backyard bird nesting ball was a great craft for him and a good addition to our homemade bird feeders.

Make a DIY bird nesting ball

Birds start to build nests in spring and our urban feathered friends appreciate a little help finding good nesting material. My bird loving son was so excited when during a Spring Break trip the botanic garden the docents were helping kids make nest balls to take home and hang on window sills, fire escapes and fences. Backyard and sidewalk birds can pilfer premium nesting material from the homemade nesting balls to help them make a comfy home for the soon-to-arrive eggs.

How to Make a Bird Nesting Ball

We made these balls of nesting material at the botanic garden, but you can easily make them at home. Here’s how:

Make a bird nesting ball

Cut out a circular piece of netting. The black paper you see in the photo was used to help kids see the netting against the blanket, but they are not required. Gather together various items in the netting, such as small twigs, dried grasses, feathers, bits of yarn, even bits of dryer lint. Break or cut longer pieces into short strands.

make a bird nesting ball

Secure the top of the netting with a rubber band and slip a string under the band.

Hang bird nesting balls in yard

Tie the nesting ball to a post, fence, railing or branch. We had the nesting ball hanging on our fire escape but it was too high up and after a week of no birds we moved them to the community garden.

No doubt after making this craft you will want to read a few books! Lucky you, last year I made a short list of some bird books (although I really should update it).

Let me help you find books for your kids and keep them (almost) effortlessly entertained. Receive a printable bookplate when you sign up for our Weekly-ish Newsletter.


  1. says

    Great project. I’d been wondering if I should offer the birds our dryer lint, and you’ve just given me permission. We have a riot of finches who stop by our feeders all the time. And a pair of doves who visit often. I’ve wanted to encourage nest building, and this is exactly how we’re going to do it!

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      My son would love watching finches. We don’t see many of those, mostly house sparrows. They are all over the place!

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Yes, they do! They use their beaks to either pull the pieces out or break apart the netting to get at the material inside.

  2. says

    Erica – I just watched your entire Google Hangout with Megan about early chapter books, and I thought it was fabulous. Really, really good and helpful information! My oldest son is still in early readers, but I know early chapter books will be upon me before I know it, and I want to be ready! I agree with Megan that all your lists are an invaluable resource, and I’m so glad I have them ready and waiting for when it’s time!

    Also, you were a complete natural on camera, so even though you said it was outside your comfort zone, I hope you do more chats in the future!

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Thank you so much, Amy. You’ve made me feel so much better. I felt so nervous right before I hit the “broadcast” button!

  3. Azul says

    I was told that dryer lint is NOT good nesting material for birds because it retains moisture when it rains, etc.

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