Are Yarn Trimmings for The Birds or Is That An Environmental Problem?


Mikey, Crochet Crowd

Michael Sellick – Mikey

I was thinking about something I read, as well as people I know about yarn trimmings. It occurred to me as I walked by my bedroom and I seen a trimming of yarn from my latest project on the floor.

As you may know, some people say to save their trimmings and leave them out in suet cages for the birds to collect to build their nests in the spring.

Some advice says to keep the trimmings shorter than 2″ and the birds will collect the yarn to build their nests. While some people advocate that it’s a great way to decorate a bird nest… what is the reality here?

I have to admit I’m on the fence about the composting of yarn. The say it’s great for decorations is kind of absurd as most nests are usually not easily visible. Who are you decorating it for?

You really have to be careful with fibres. While it seems like a good idea… we have to ensure the fibres aren’t going to cause a problem with the babies getting tangled up in it. Wouldn’t you feel bad if you knew that your yarn was responsible for strangling an innocent little bird? Your effort in trying to help could be the demise of a creature.

Stories of dead birds hanging from nests as a result of yarn, string or other things in this family of items isn’t uncommon. In fact, just reading about it breaks my heart.

I go through yarn like crazy… but I would prefer our birds find the natural materials that are available to them to provide the best environment. While it may seem like I could be helping a creature… Most of the birds, and yes we have a lot of them, nest out of view from where we can see. It would break my heart to see a dead bird or even a bird hanging once winter rolled around and it was my yarn around it.

As humans, we tend to humanize other creatures to believe we think alike. Though I cannot fathom why the beautiful cardinals stick out our harsh winters… they do… they survive it remarkably… If the winter is too harsh or conditions are not ideal, it’s a way of mother nature keeping population from exploding. Sounds cruel but it’s a reality.

So I think for me… I’ll keep my yarn to myself. Let the birds be birds. Besides… I’m lazy and I probably wouldn’t pick up the scrap yarns I leave causing it to be more messy in the long term… Just keeping it real!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Good idea, bad idea… what do you think? Leave me your comments below… Join the conversation.

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About Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

I am Mikey, owner of The Crochet Crowd Blog. I'm a 'hooker' at heart with the passion to crochet. I am from Ontario Canada and teach how to crochet online through YouTube Video Tutorials. From a simple idea and being at the right place and time in my life back in 2008, the concept of The Crochet Crowd was developed. I'm here to hook and share. Come follow my crochet journey and share yours with comments here and you are most welcome to share your creativity within our Facebook page.
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75 Responses to Are Yarn Trimmings for The Birds or Is That An Environmental Problem?

  1. Tina says:

    Hummmm…… And here I’ve been tossing my scraps! You guys have given me some great ideas!

  2. Karen says:

    Not yarn clippings, but like others… sometimes lint (from our cotton towels), hair from us or pets, bio-friendly things. I also try to think of the animals when I plant – will it feed or provide cover for an animal?
    Not yarn related – but we hang left over corn on the cob in the bushes for the birds and squirrels. They love it!

  3. ohmyscraps2u says:

    I have just begun crocheting. After reading this, I think I will put all my yarn clippings into a baggy and use as stuffing materials for projects that will stay in my home. Even when we throw them in the garbage, eventually these trimmings get out. The birds & wild animals do come in contact with these materials.

  4. Doris says:

    I keep a ziploc baggie handy for all the bit’s of yarn and I use them whenever I am making anything that needs stuffing. I never have to buy the fiber fill.

  5. Norma Hunt says:

    no artificial stuff for sure, I leave our family hair clippings and the trimmings from our dogs as well. they love those
    we leave only biodegradeables. even woll that is natural but colored isnt healthy.
    and another reminder…
    for those that give nectar to humming birds please dont instead plant the flowers they love like bee baalm, cone flower butterfly bushes ahibiscus srose of sharon anythinig with a beel or cup the y love. man made stuff doesnt be high enough in sugars and nutricion for that long flight and so many die of starvation along the way because of that.
    the beauty bush at my itchen wiindow serves food to all kinds of bees, butterflies and humming birds and seves a a nesting place for other species as well. I love the chickadees who sit on the branch and talk to me throough the window if I opened it I am sure they wold come right in.

  6. I don’t put my trimmings out for the birds, but I do leave some of my Chow dog’s wool. I often see nests lined with the cozy wool and it makes me happy that my dog could helps baby birds stay warm.

  7. I live in Virginia and the birds have never used anything I’ve put out. I tried the dryer lint and it just turned into a soggy mess when it rained. But about animals and yarn. I have a kitten who loves to play with yarn. I thought it was real cute until he got the yarn all wrapped around the leg of a chair and then around himself. He was about to choke. He isn’t allowed to play with it unless it is crocheted into a form and then I watch closely.

  8. The other aspect that gets forgotten is that other animals will steal it as well, eating it and causing severe tummy trouble – even death – because the yarn gets wrapped around their intestines, causing knots and blockages which can burst, killing the creatures. It happens with people leaving scraps out for bird nests and when people vandalize an area with ‘yarnbombing’.

    We need to be more careful with our creations – even our scraps – to protect those little furry friends from harm. You wouldn’t allow your own pet to eat it so don’t leave it out for other animals who are just as prone to do the same thing.

    Thank you, Mikey and Dan, for being responsible crafters who take care of everyone – both human and non – in your endeavors.

  9. Diane says:

    I have never used the yarn trimmings for the birds. I do save the dryer lint though (less the fabric softener sheets) and put it out for the birds. They will usually clean up a grocery bag of lint in a day.

  10. Heather says:

    Interesting. I have always left my scraps out for the birds and I will continue too! Last year a very persistant robin kept trying to build a nest the gooseneck part of my horsetrailer (I took down 4 nests before it finally moved on to building elsewhere). What was that bird using? The usual sticks and twigs, but also oodles and oodles of nylon strings from a blue tarp! Not sure where they were getting it from as I only had white tarps on my property and none of them were fraying, but if they want certain things, they will find a way to get it. I have never seen a baby bird hanging dead from a nest, not that I’m saying it won’t happen. But do whatever you feels right.

  11. Laura says:

    Never thought I could possible hurt a creature with my good intention. Thank you for a well written and informative article. I will now save and use for stuffing my items.

  12. Elaine says:

    I love animals and have worked for a vet most my life. I don’t put anything out for birds except bird food. Yarn is ok for birds but other animals get the yarn, some eat it, that is so not good. I use my really small scraps as stuffing for dog pillows. I have a box I keep it in. When it gets full, I make dog pillows. I take my long scraps of yarn and tie them together then roll into a ball when I get a big size ball I make unusual looking scrubbies. My scrubbies are one of a kind in color LOL.

  13. Sylvia says:

    I had a friend who saw a squirrel caught in Christmas lights on a tree, and by that time the poor squirrel had already fatigued himself trying to chew his foot off. I never correlated the same thing with birds and yarn, but I will now.

  14. Nancy deGans says:

    thank you Mikey for this article…I used to always keep scraps for birds…but I no longer will…never thought they might get strangled…will use them as stuffing for now on…

  15. Elva Elliott says:

    I would, & do save my bits to stuff small toys or other items I make.

  16. Jo Anna Love says:

    Not putting my trimmings out fir the birds. Agree with you let the birds do what they do and keep my trimmings away from them. I put my trimmings in gallon zip lock bags and make pixie skirts for my grand daughters.

  17. Ann Dennis says:

    Funny how that article talks about yarn then further down says no plastic or non organic items a contradiction I think. I don’t deliberately put anything out for the birds but I do maintain garden and tree and shrub areas for them on my hobby farm. I also have food plants for the kind of birds that visit my SW Wisconsin farm. My little stubs of yarn go into the fiberfill and is used for toys for children that will appreciate them way more than the birds. If the birds choose to steal from me that is their fault even though I usually get what doesn’t go into toys into a sealed trash bag there isn’t much left. My cotton and wool go under my garden mulch. (Just a note, it doesn’t break down that fast so don’t put it where you are going to move it after a season or put it in a compost pile.)
    No yarn for the bird here either.

  18. I have never thought about putting yarn out for birds. I guess i just figured that they (birds) have taken care of themselves since they were created, and will continue to do so, without my help.
    besides, my four legged grand kids get so much more enjoyment out of their yarn toys, and no one gets hurt 🙂
    Thank you Mikey for everything you do and share with us. I try to pay it forward by donating warm, hats, scarfs, ect.. I do try to mix it up by donating to different charities. My family and friends even love when I share your words of wisdom with them. You, Diva Dan and Cathy are the Bomb!! Thanks again:)

  19. Tina says:

    point well expressed and taken! I will admit that I did this once and no birds ever took any of the yarn. I will not be putting it out again.

  20. Liz says:

    I use mine to stuff my amigurumi creations, saving on batting. It also makes the animals a little squishier and more pose-able. I think if you’re concerned about yarn scraps endangering birds by making them more visible to predators, you could simply only put out scraps in shades of brown, black, or tan.

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