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Reg April 7th, 2017 09:40 AM

Birds outside
Hi everyone:

This is Reg's wife, and I'd like to know if anyone out there knows anything about pet hair and wild birds. :D :offtopic:

Some time back, we remember reading something about saving your pet's fur and hanging it out on the clothesline for the wild birds to use for nesting material. We have been saving our kitty cats fur over the winter.

What we wondered about is when to start hanging the fur out on the line? We live in northwestern Ontario, so there aren't any songbirds yet, but there are lots of Gold Finches, Purple Finches, and of course our Chickadees.

If anyone knows about this practice, let us know - especially when to start pinning the fur on the clothesline. We are also in bear country, and they are starting to come out of hibernation too. We haven't seen any yet, but other neighbours have.

Thank you so much for any help or suggestions.


rhynes April 7th, 2017 12:03 PM

put it out and try to keep it dry til the birds take it.

I hadn't really thought about pet fur and birds making nests til reading abou it last year. It's funny to see the dog parks this time of year, people bring their dogs to brush them out and leave half their dog on the ground. It's gone within a day or two.

hazelrunpack April 7th, 2017 12:04 PM

Hi, Ev. Welcome!

Yes, birds love to use pet hair in their nests. Undercoat on retrievers appears to be their favorite type, but they use our setters' hair, too, and probably won't turn up their beaks at a chance for some cat fur! :laughing:

If there's enough (as there is with our setters), we pack the hair into clean suet cages or some sort of mesh bag (like the sort that fresh produce is sometimes packaged in) -- it's a lot less complicated than trying to pin it to the clothesline. The birds love pulling it out. We've even had hummingbirds entertain us as they try to steal a particularly attractive bit of fur and fly off with it.

You can start any time--most of the migratory breeders won't be in your area for another month, but the chickadees and nuthatches will appreciate it now. We usually offer it right through May, but traffic falls off once the nests are built and the eggs are laid. I do put any leftover hair out in July because goldfinches are very late nesters and might be interested, but I have to admit I've never caught a goldfinch taking any....

As for bears, the hair shouldn't attract them at all if that was a worry for you. I have to bring in all my seed, suet, and jelly feeders every night in the summer, but the bears aren't interested in the hair cage at all, so it stays out. The raccoons don't seem interested, either.

Reg April 8th, 2017 03:36 PM

Hello Hazel & Rynes:

Thank you for the welcome. I've been here all along because I normally do the typing. Reg swears that the keys move on him after every letter he types.

We moved to our new place almost a year ago, and when the movers were unloading the truck, they put our half dozen 40 lb bags of cat litter in the back porch. We moved in on a Friday, and Wed morning is garbage collection day here, and most people put their goodies out on Tuesday night.

We are now in bear country, and they seem to know what night it is that garbage is at the curb. Well Wed morning, there was quite a bit of stuff strewn all over the place. The bear even came up into our back porch cause there's no door on it yet, and decided that the kitty litter smelled pretty good. It's Swheat Scoop. So he/she decided that it tasted pretty good too. Along with a half pail of raw peanuts in the shell. So there went our chipmunk and squirrel food as well. Needless to say, the litter came inside and we keep the peanuts in the house now too.

Reg went out and measured the distance from the ground to the bottom of the tower feeder today, and it's 7 feet. So unless the bear is an adult one, we should be okay for a bit.

There is a flyer that comes to all homes in the town every year telling residents that the bears are about and anyone feeding birds should remove their feeders. We didn't even put anything out last year until about the middle of August because we hadn't seen any evidence of hummingbirds. Once we did see them, that's when we started hanging the feeder on the clothesline, and we've been hanging the other feeders like that all winter too.

Hummers generally appear around here shortly after Mother's Day, so this year we should be able to feed them a lot sooner than last year.

I haven't seen any Nuthatches, but we do see the odd Chickadee. And we haven't had only one Woodpecker and it came about twice and that's it.

So that's it for now. Thanks again for your info.


hazelrunpack April 8th, 2017 11:01 PM

:eek: Not sure how I'd feel about bears inside the fence, much less on the back porch! :eek: Amazing that they'd find Swheat Scoop tasty... :yuck: :laughing: Bears! (smh)

Longblades April 9th, 2017 09:18 AM

We are asked to not put feeders out, or meat in composts. Not because of bears though there is the odd one (and moose) around, but because it attracts smaller wildlife like skunks, raccoons, feral cats, coyotes, the odd brave fisher, pine marten etc.

They are all quite capable of learning that something that looks like a place where they found food before might again and they'll rip it open whether there really is food in it now or not. They don't need to actually smell food, they just need to remember something that looked like a garbage bag once had food in it. Bears have been known to lift windshields, intact, right out of vehicles because someone once left a window down and a sandwich on the seat.

On a canoe trip we once found a fly-in cabin, a new one too, with a whole back window, not broken, lifted out and placed on the ground, as if it was done carefully. The only things inside not ravaged, wrecked and destroyed were the two canoes stored up on high rafters. It was a bit scary as we were wind stuck at this place and wondered how recently it all had happened and if the bear(s) would come back.

Reg April 9th, 2017 10:44 PM

Hello Hazel & Longblades:

We are not very pleased with the bears doing our back porch either, but last year we didn't have much choice having just moved into the house at the end of May. Guess they smelled the wheat in the bags or something. But at least it only ate maybe a third of the bag and scattered some as well. We were able to salvage about 2/3 of it.

Hopefully sometime in the next few months we can find a storm door to put in place and hope it deters the bruins. We think a door will work better than a saw horse - which worked, but it's pretty small.

Longblades - our little town put out a flyer into every mail box last year that people are supposed to not feed the birds, and take down feeders. They evidently put this flyer out every year to remind people. We didn't even put the hummer feeder out until about mid August cause we hadn't seen any of them until only a few days earlier and realized they were around.

The only wildlife we have seen here in town are the bears and an occasional coyote, but nothing else. There are deer between town and the main highway, but Moose are extremely rare. We haven't seen nor smelled any sign of skunks, haven't seen any raccoons, and no martens or fisher are around that we know of. Most outside cats we've seen belong to people - there doesn't seem to be any feral cats here - at least no one has mentioned any.

Once upon a time when Reg was a working fella, he worked in the bush cause he was in mining exploration and he always had some kind of contact with bears, but never had any problems with them. He never had to put one down. He and his men always made sure garbage was locked up at night and taken out when they left the bush.

Sounds like you have had a lot of bear encounters over the years. Could you write a book??????

Longblades April 10th, 2017 09:01 AM

My OH worked in the bush too. Sometimes many hundreds of airmiles north of the northern most roads in Northern Ontario, for the Ministry of Natural Resources. He flew fire detection too, that was over top of the bush. ;) Later when he became a Conservation Officer it was in S. Ont. in an area without bears. Still, he's the one with the most animal stories. And some harrowing canoe dumping stories too.

We will be on bear lookout soon as there is a pick your own strawberry place nearby and every year bears visit it. So far I have only seen the bears when I've been driving in my car but neighours have encountered them while out dog walking and put a bell on their dog all year long.

Reg May 21st, 2017 10:03 AM

Hello Hazel:

It's me again, Ev. I thought your idea of putting the pet fur into something like an onion bag was a great idea, but do you hang it someplace special. Where do you put it, and how many do you put out? I still hang mine from the clothesline and push it towards the trees at the bottom of the yard, but perhaps I should just hang it in the trees, I don't know.

The bears don't appear to have made their entrance yet either. :fingerscr

Am I trying to rush this nesting thing though? It''s already the long weekend here in Canada in May, but it's still cold out. We had snow flying around on Thurs morning - great way to celebrate ones birthday - so it's not warm out. Perhaps the birds are not doing the nest thing yet - I don't know.

Anyway, just wondered how and what you do with your fur? Of course, you are much further south than we are - you have hummers already, and they haven't yet reached as far north as Thunder Bay yet. :D

Look forward to your reply when you have the chance.

Thank you

hazelrunpack May 21st, 2017 03:47 PM

Hi, Ev!

We either use small mesh onion bags or old suet cages. One of our cages is so warped from a bear raid that I can't get a square suet in it, anymore. It's great for holding hair, though. I just use spring hooks to hold it closed and hang it from the suet pole or from a planter hanger in a tree.

You could put it in a tree or a bush if you wanted, but the clothesline near the trees should be okay, too, as long as it's not too far from the trees. You could try scattering a little bit of fur on the ground, too--chipping sparrows will entertain us for hours scrounging dog hair out of the grass.

It's not too early to put it out, even if they aren't quite to the building stage, yet. They'll know where it is when they need it. Cavity nesters are probably already at it, even if the 'open air' nesters aren't housekeeping, yet. :D

We haven't seen a lot of activity at our hair this year, either, for some reason, so I only have the one cage out. I know the bluebirds, woodpeckers, titmouse and robins are all feeding chicks already, so it's not for lack of nesting. Maybe hair as a decorating statement has fallen out of style this spring! :rolleyes: :laughing:

Barkingdog May 21st, 2017 04:50 PM

Some people will bring their dogs to the parks and brush them out and leave the fur on the ground . All the fur will be gone in a few weeks . I left some of Marty's fur in a brush and it gone so some bird used it , I keep forgetting to put my dog's fur out after brushing him. :wall:

Reg May 22nd, 2017 09:42 AM

Hi Hazel & Barkingdog:

Thank you for your comments yesterday re the fur. The trees at the bottom of the yard are a combination of White Spruce, Ornamental Cedar, and Eastern White Cedar trees. They form the line between our yard and the folks behind us. The clothesline is hooked into a post that is buried in among those trees. :D

I can very easily run the line into them with an onion bag with no problem.

I think we also have an old suet cage too that we can put fur into. And we can definitely put some onto the ground. The only thing I didn't want was for the fur to get wet, but I guess the birdies won't mind - they likely would wait until it dries out before picking it up anyway. :lightbulb:

We have also noticed that since the snow left, our bird population in the yard has dropped a lot. We're not sure why. We've also been watching for any signs of bears around, and so far there hasn't been any.

So thank you for your suggestions and we'll keep you posted.:thumbs up

hazelrunpack May 22nd, 2017 06:22 PM

I'm glad the bears are leaving you be, at least! The birds maybe are just busy getting ready to nest. Likely the traffic at your feeders will pick up once the youngsters are out.

I don't think the birds will worry about the hair getting wet. It gets wet while in the nest, but evidently helps retain enough warmth even so, or they wouldn't use it to build. :shrug:

Winston May 25th, 2017 04:41 PM

Reg, Regs Wife and Hazel :thumbs up
I hate to ask this question but how do you discourage a bird from making a nest where they shouldnt be making a nest. Dont get me wrong I LOVE birds but Its right on top of my front door where the light is. I have torn down 3 nests so far, and man can they make them fast the other day its was within a couple of hours :wall:
I also wondered do they carry the mud in the nest in their mouth to the nest...because they seem to pack it with some dirt after the base is built a little bit.
I feel horrible for removing it but I had no choice. I am pretty sure it was a Robin because he came back with a huge mouth full of twigs only to realize I just took what he started away :shrug:

hazelrunpack May 25th, 2017 11:56 PM

Yep, that's a robin, no doubt--from the mud to the location, robin all the way! The only thing you [I]can[/I] do is continue to remove the nesting material. It'll take a few days, maybe as long as a couple of weeks, to discourage them.

My MIL next door is having the same problem--robins trying to build a nest on top of the spotlights on her deck, right by her front door. It seems mean to remove the nest, but they have plenty of time to find a new spot--in a tree or some place more appropriate... I think she finally put a big, dry sponge on top of the light--it weighs so little that when the robin tried to land on it, the sponge would rock and discourage the bird that way. So if you can find something (unbreakable, because likely it'll get knocked off a few times) to put up there that will give them an unsteady platform, that might work. Someone else I know...from a long time ago and I can't even remember who it was...balanced a volley ball or a basket ball on their light and that seemed to keep the robins away, too. :shrug:

Good luck! :D And if you end up with robin babies, make sure you get some pics for us! :p

Reg May 26th, 2017 10:46 AM

Good morning Cindy and Hazel:

Once upon a time we had a friend who had a Phoebe build her nest every year in the rafter part of her front overhang of her front door. Now whether or not this is still the case, I don't know. I should ask her daughter if the birds are still doing that?

Do you have a "roof" over your front door, or is it exposed to the weather? I just wondered if the bird is using part of the structure as a support for its nest.

Reg was suggesting that perhaps you could hang a wind chime from somewhere above the light fixture. The noise from it might deter the birds - don't know that either. Or affix any kind of "ornament" from there. Or if you can make up a ring of some sort out of wire and hang it above the fixture and attach pieces of string to it. It would only be for a matter of a few days until the birds get the hint.

Also, a long time ago, we had a house with a car port on the one end and we had Swallows that insisted on building in the rafters. We had to destroy the nests regularly. The birds would fly at us every time we came out the door.

It's not a case of liking to destroy the nests, it's a case of discouraging the birds - go find another place to build.

By the way, Hazel - we have the hummingbirds back. I was really wondering if we'd get them back because of the lateness of hanging the feeders last year. A year ago the notice went out to all residents - via the local post office, from the municipal office - that because "bear season" was upon us, all bird feeders had to be taken down. So of course, we didn't really know how to go about the hummer feeders. It wasn't until mid August that we even saw one, and suddenly it occurred to us that perhaps we could hang it on the clothesline. That's what we did and it worked.

So far this year, no one has seen any bears in town - don't know exactly what that might mean, but I'm glad. I only put the feeder out yesterday because it has been pretty chilly here up until these past couple of days. Within a couple of hours I spied a bird at it, and they've been coming ever since. Right now it is the male birds - I'm sure the females won't be far behind.

Hope these suggestions help with your issue. Let us know how you do.

Barkingdog May 26th, 2017 04:57 PM

A neighbor has a couple of very noisy wind chimes hanging right next some to her bird feeders and I thought that would keep the birds from eating the seeds . The birds don't seem to mind the wind chimes ,maybe a fake owl or rubber snake will keep the birds away .

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