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These colorful bird’s nest helpers are a fun nature activity for kids, a helpful handmade backyard addition for birds, and only require minimal supplies (with zero prep!).
Many many years ago I was rolling up to a little yarn shop when I spotted a group of trees filled with dozens of colorful little balls – like Christmas in spring!
When I asked the shop owner about them, she lit up, explaining that they were nesting balls she’d filled with alpaca fiber (from her mill!) that she’d dyed herself.
We’d had a cold snap toward the end of winter that had made it a little harder for the birds to find what they needed for their nests. But her bright stuffed spheres, gently spinning and swaying among the tree branches had saved the day, drawing bunches of birds who appreciated the help.
I’ve been making bird’s nest helpers after especially long winters ever since, and they’re one of those blissfully uncomplicated activities that perfectly suit an afternoon of peaceful, easy outdoor crafting with kids.
For more ideas that will get little ones excited to dig in the dirt, visit our big collection of over 50 spring gardening activities for kids.
To make your own bird’s nest helper you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Leaves, grass, and moss
- Other decorative craft supplies
Note: Yarn, string, fabric scraps, and synthetic fibers are NOT recommended. Birds can get entwined and caught in fabrics or strings, and synthetic fillers contain plastics.
How to Make a Bird Nest Helper – DIY Instructions:
- Gather the nature supplies for your bird’s nest helper
Gather up the few simple supplies you need for this (a trip outside for bird’s nest helper materials is a great way to kick off this activity).
If you’re reusing a suet feeder that was previously used for feeding birds, be sure to wash it well with dish soap and water before using it.
A note about the wool we used: our Alpaca wool was all naturally dyed – if you’re not sure about the fiber you have, stick to a plain, undyed choice – you can add color with lots of other natural materials!
- Fill your suet feeder with supplies
Fill your suet feeder with any combination of the supplies listed above, then close the hinged side.
I love using a suet feeder because kids can so easily fill them, but if you don’t have one handy, you can use a grapevine ball, small basket, craft wire, or even sticks tied together.
- Pull a few fibers out of the suet feeder
Using a small twig or pencil, push some of the fibers and other materials through the sides of the suet feeder – this gives the birds nice little starts to pull from.
- Hang from a branch, fence post, or pole
Locate a good (safe!) spot where birds will find your nest helper. If you can, hanging from some low, leafy branches or near other trees that can be a source of protection from larger predators or raptors is ideal.
You’ll want it to be easy for birds to spot, but also someplace that provides a bit of protection from the elements if possible.
Once finished you can add some decorative touches to make it your own. Just be sure the things you use aren’t something the birds can accidentally fly off with, get stuck in, or could try to eat. Large painted wooden beads threaded with leather rope are a good example of a sweet but safe embellishment.
Beyond the Birds Nest Helpers: More Ways to Learn and Play
- Make mixed media bird nests. You can use the same basic supplies you’ve used for your bird’s nest helpers to create an invitation for your little ones to build colorful play dough or salt dough bird nests.
- Learn about all the different types of bird nests. From floating nests to underground burrows, no two bird nests are the same! Read about the many varieties of bird nests, then go neighborhood nest-spotting. We discovered a cavity nest full of baby woodpeckers right in our own backyard one summer.
- Pair your nest helpers with a picture book. There are LOADS of beautiful bird-themed picture books I could recommend, but for a few that specifically feature bird nests, try Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins, Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward, A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Ward, or The Nest That Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine Fly to your local library for an afternoon of kit lit nest reading!
- Make a play birdhouse with egg carton birds. For more bird fun you can combine these same supplies with a paper bag to make a nest, then add a milk carton birdhouse and egg carton baby birds.