March 2, 2016

PSA Dangerous Yarn Scraps for Birds

PSA: Yarn scraps can be dangerous for birds! Hey, crafters, we all have lots of yarn. (Probably more than we even want to admit.)  And we all end up with small scraps after finishing a project and weaving in our ends.  Upon seeing a post from the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue about the dangers of putting out yarn for nest-building I knew I had to pass on the info.  I shared it with my GoodKnitKisses Facebook followers and asked if I could quote them on my blog.

I hope this article helps you. Please share this blog with your friends and followers! Thanks! -Kristen

The yarn scraps photos and quote are used with permission by Carolina Waterfowl Rescue.

NO Yarn Scraps for Birds! #goodknitkisses #songbird #birdhouse #birdfeeder

PSA Dangerous Yarn Scraps for Birds

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue
Posted on Facebook on March 1, 2016 9:18a CST
“We’ve been seeing a lot of online posts lately suggesting using yarn scraps, twine or other material as outside nesting material for songbirds. While the intentions are good, please do NOT do this.

Yarn and any type of string, twine and even human hair can easily become tangled around birds legs, neck etc. and cut off circulation causing serious injury or even death. We get in many baby songbirds every year missing limbs due to string like materials in a nest.

If you want to have nesting materials in your yard, we suggest purchasing pre-made nesting material or use these natural alternatives.

Cloth Strips: Natural fibers – such as cotton, wool, jute, and burlap – make perfect bird nesting materials. Cut old fabric into pieces 3” to 6” long and no more than 1” wide. Longer pieces are too much for birds to handle and can even strangle them.

Small Yard Debris: Pine straw, wheat straw, and tiny twigs make good bird nest building materials.

Grass Clippings: One of the most common nesting materials, grass clippings can be gathered into balls or simply left mulched into your lawn.

Animal Hair: If you brush or clip your animals, save the fur! It makes a wonderfully soft lining for bird nests. Just don’t use any hair or fur that’s been treated with flea dips or insect repellents.

Cocoa Fiber: Recycle worn-out linings of hanging baskets for bird nesting material.

Plants and Seeds: Fluffy seeds and plants, such as cattails, make good bird nesting materials.

Cloth Batting: Wool or cotton batting cut into 3”- 6” strips makes good nesting material.

Feathers: Providing feathers for nesting material is a great way to recycle old down pillows!

Moss: Sphagnum or Spanish moss make great bird nesting material (make sure it’s not been chemically treated).”


The most important thing to remember is to use natural items that have not been exposed to dangerous chemicals.  Another item that is commonly put out is dryer lint.  This should also be avoided because it can absorb water and contain harsh detergents and fabric softeners.



NO Yarn Scraps for Birds! #goodknitkisses #songbird #birdhouse #birdfeeder

Crochet, Knitting, Loom, Yarn , , , , , ,
About Kristen Mangus
Kristen is a multi-talented entrepreneur with a heart as big as Texas. She is the owner of GoodKnit Kisses whose mission is to inspire, encourage and empower people through education and design. She’s built a large and loyal online community of followers by sharing her personal passion for loom knitting, needle knitting, crochet and all things creative through YouTube tutorials, Facebook live broadcasts, blogs and pattern design. Her vision is to leave an inspired crafting world for future generations that continues to teach and reach others. She and her husband, John, have three amazing kids.
  1. Grace Gardiner-Aquila March 31, 2019 at 10:00 am Reply

    I see that yarns pieces are inches long that people put out for wildlife, which can cause these issues….my question/suggestion….cutting yarn pieces approx. 1 inch…these lengths won’t entangle their feet and cause injury. Your thoughts…………

    • How about you don’t use the yarn at all no matter what the length. It is not good for them to eat either. When you mow or rake your yard leave a big pile of clippings and twigs. Use your yarn leftovers to stuff amigurumi or small pillows.

  2. Are knitted critter nests safe? Rescue sites encourage them and give specific guidelines for knitting the nests.

    • Hi Suzy! This is an excellent question. I did a little research and if the nests are a very tight knit/crochet fabric and are washable they are perfectly safe. The issue with yarn in general is that it can tangle around the birds’ legs or necks causing harm. The nests used by wildlife rehabilitation facilities must be very tight and dense to prevent injury. I hope this helps! Joann

  3. How come the bird sanctuary and the National wildlife federation say it’s ok?
    I’m sincerely not trying to be rude but I don’t find your information credible. Unless you have credentials that make you a bird expert. The National wildlife federation and the bird sanctuary state pet hair/animal hair is fine. It is only human hair that is too fine and should not be put out for Birds. And they do prefer natural fibers, but they say yarn is fine to put out.

    • Marsha Arrowood May 28, 2021 at 6:17 pm Reply

      The statement is from the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, I’m pretty sure they are experts in their field.
      While it is true that yarn and twine are listed on the National Wildlife Federation website, they also have very specific requirements for the type of yarn. I’m pretty sure there will be people throwing unapproved yarns out because they don’t want to read the entire post. I would err on the side of caution because no one wants to kill birds out of negligence.

  4. You can’t stop birds from picking up animal hair or long strands of things for their nests. Nature will always take some babies by attrition, no matter what. Animals shed in the wild, birds use the hair to make their nests. I can appreciate not using synthetic material because they don’t biodegrade, but some of this is going way too far.

  5. I see this meme posted by friends who let their cats roam outdoors and kill songbirds. Few birds if any are harmed by yarn, just stories of stories, no actual facts. Birds use hair, strings, and strips of things found in nature without problem. If you’re concerned, cut your yarn into no longer than 1″ strips. I just don’t put out acrylic yarns.

  6. How is cotton scraps ok But not yarn?

  7. Louwra van der Veen March 30, 2017 at 3:20 am Reply

    try telling the local crows about not using pet hair! Everytime I brush my dogs there are always a couple of crows waiting nearby to gather up the fluff!

  8. I think it would be better for them to gather the natural things for their nests. grasses and twigs. I know suburbia keeps lawns and trees trim and rakes up everything and cities do not leave parks with grass cutting and tree twigs everywhere! I live in the country, so birds do not need to be provided with nesting materials. It is everywhere!

    Thanks for the info Kristen!

  9. Birds use human hair, horse and cow tail hair, and scraps of various materials to build nests all the time. I don’t put hair out, but I have found a bird nest in my yard that had blown out of a tree and 90% of it was made from my hair that I shed doing gardening or yard work. I will put out wool roving for them this year because they keep picking apart my coir flower basket liners that are made from long fibers of coconut husk.

  10. I appreciate the idea of wool but can not fathom why one would offer cotton since it will not provide warmth once it becomes wet. Wool offers warmth even when it is wet.

  11. bright colors make nests easier by predators- and some dog hair has guard hairs which might be uncomfortable?

  12. I am glad that you posted this and someone just shared it on Knitter’s Paradise. The correct word needs to get out. Thanks for keeping bird lovers as well as fiber workers informed. I have never done this but will give it some thought to leave like wool puffs (un-spun, un-carded wool) etc out for the bird’s nest. It would be cool to find some scrap colorful yarn in a nest but, not worth the dangers.. Thanks again.

  13. What about leaving out 1/2 – 1 inch pieces of cotton yarn or wool yarn for nesting?

  14. I usually put out the combings from my 4 Persian cats I actually watched a large crow take a big clump it then flew onto a roof where there was another crow and shared it so funny !

  15. If yarn is cut in very small pieces 1″ or 2″ would it be OK?
    This would be too short to catch anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.