When you think about it, nests are pretty amazing.

Imaging trying to build something high in a tree using just your mouth and your feet... It’d probably be quite hard. In fact, it’s probably best not to try!*

But, as spring begins and birds start weaving their wondrous constructions, you can still have a go, right here on the ground.

Born to be Wild, the new book by Hattie Garlick, is full of outdoor activities for families. On page 19, she tells us how to forage for nest materials (twigs, moss, feathers) and weave them into a basket shape. 

  1. Go hunting for nest material. Bendy twigs and long grasses are good to get the basic shape, then add moss, mud and more – not forgetting something soft for the eggs to rest on.
  2. Use the longer grasses to make loops of different sizes: tie the ends together to hold them in place.
  3. Lay the grassy loops inside each other, the largest at the top, the smallest at the base.
  4. Using your basic 'nest' shape, weave in shorter twigs and leaves to bulk it out.
  5. Find some 'eggs' - these could be hens eggs from the kitchen, or things like acorns or marbles.

Best nest?

Long-tailed tits build incredible elastic nests which actually expand to accommodate the chicks inside as they grow. Shaped a bit like a bottle, both the male and female work together the build it in spring – it usually takes two to three weeks. They fly an exhausting 700 miles to collect lichen, moss, feathers, hair and even spider’s webs to use as building materials.

Give birds a hand by leaving out nesting material – hair from your hairbrush, fluff or scraps of wool are all great.

Crowning glory

Long, strong grasses and reeds can also make great natural crowns. Try plaiting three strands together, then tying them to make a ring. Next, decorate with daisies, buttercups and other leaves for a fairy garland, or stick long feathers in to make a Roman-style headdress. Hail Caesar! 

*Of course, not all birds do nest in trees. Some nest in hedges, on cliffs, on the ground or, if you're a puffin, in burrows!