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

Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

I am Michael Sellick, known online as 'Mikey', I am the founder and leader of The Crochet Crowd. I'm a 'hooker' at heart with the passion to crochet and play with yarn.

77 thoughts on “Are Yarn Trimmings for The Birds or Is That An Environmental Problem?

  • July 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm
    Permalink

    I put all off cut pieces over 2″ in a zip lock bag and use them for a latch hook cushion.I use aida type fabric But open weave cotton or hessian will work too.You can use a latch hook or a crochet hook.Fold the piece of yarn in half decide where it is too be placed put the hook through the fabric ,catch the yarn,pull through,half way,pull the ends through the loop thats made and pull firmly Repeat as needed.You can make any size cushion or pet mat etc and any ply yarn can be put together for different effects.
    Keep on hooking

  • March 28, 2014 at 5:51 am
    Permalink

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

  • March 24, 2014 at 7:23 pm
    Permalink

    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!

  • March 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 9:36 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 6:31 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 4:36 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    • May 6, 2015 at 12:59 am
      Permalink

      The National Wildlife Federation encourages yarn and many other household items to be set out for birds. I figure they know what they’re talking about 🙂 I cut mine down to 2″ to be safe.

  • March 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 9:45 am
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 9:05 am
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 8:35 am
    Permalink

    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…

  • March 23, 2014 at 3:47 am
    Permalink

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

  • March 23, 2014 at 12:29 am
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 23, 2014 at 12:03 am
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 22, 2014 at 11:13 pm
    Permalink

    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:)

  • March 22, 2014 at 10:50 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 22, 2014 at 10:23 pm
    Permalink

    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.

  • March 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm
    Permalink

    Last year while trimming an overgrown thorn bush in the backyard I discovered an old nest that did have some non-natural materials in it – snack food wrappers, if I remember correctly. I was surprised to see them because I didn’t know birds would even consider them for their nests. For that reason it’s never occurred to me to leave yarn out for them. But even without that I don’t think it’s a good idea – a lot of yarn isn’t natural, it’s made from a petroleum product and I would never want that in a nest. And even the natural fibers, like cotton and wool, are usually dyed and I have no idea what dyes were used – maybe those aren’t natural either. Right now I just pitch the really short segments but I’m still trying to think of a way to use them in order to keep landfills down; so far the only thing that comes to mind is stuffing for pillows but since I don’t sew I haven’t tried that.

  • March 22, 2014 at 8:37 pm
    Permalink

    I have to say I totally agree with you. Not only do birds have natural resources to build their nests but if the yarn ends get blown about and a dog or cat eats it that poses a whole new set of problems.

  • March 22, 2014 at 8:27 pm
    Permalink

    I’m with you Mikey! As soon as I snip a yarn end, into the trash, I’m afraid of this kind of thing hurting wildlife!

  • March 22, 2014 at 8:13 pm
    Permalink

    OMG! I was going to do this for the first time this spring. Just started saving them last week! So glad I read this. I too would not like to be responsible for harming a little creature. Thanks. I so agree with you.

  • March 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm
    Permalink

    Hello all,
    I do save my snippets and tangled bits for a different purpose. I make dog toys, and stuff them with my snippets. The dog (a black lab) isn’t able to destroy a handmade toy as quickly as she tears apart a manufactured one. The other part, when she does rip into a toy, I add another layer of single crochet fabric around it, so it becomes a little bigger, and over the fabric I’d already crocheted so it’s that much stronger.
    Dog toys aside, I also use them for stuffing dolls and little pillows that I give as gifts. There are also scraps of fabric I use, old swatches & etc…

  • March 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm
    Permalink

    I agree Mikey, although I hadn’t thought of baby birds getting tangled in the yarn and dying. I feel the birds need to use natural materials they forage for themselves – although in the spring I have often put out tufts of my dogs’ heavy winter coat as they shed for the birds to use that. Acrylic yarn doesn’t compost or break down so it isn’t good for the environment and when you add in the possibility of a dead baby bird, it isn’t a good idea any from any angle.

  • March 22, 2014 at 7:05 pm
    Permalink

    I agree, keep the yarn scraps away from the birds. Not only can they harm the birds, but they tend to stay damp longer than natural materials and may actually wick water into a nest.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:54 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with letting the birds use the natural nest building materials that Mother Nature provides. We humans try and make all things human and that is wrong. I save my scraps and use them to stuff my animals and dolls that I make.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm
    Permalink

    Those ends and bits are called orts in needlepoint or cross stitch. I collect my orts (from all my various needle work, be it wool, silk, cotton or acrylic) all year long. Then around the first of November I sort through making sure none is more than an inch long and put them inside those empty glass ball ornaments you can buy at the craft stores. One year I’ll sort by color, then by fiber the next. They make wonderfully colorful holiday ornaments and are great as teacher gifts and the like. You can also put them in a decorative bowl on a table or dresser for home decor. One year my sister took a bunch and hot glued them to a wooden charger with votive candle holders and made a holiday centerpiece.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:31 pm
    Permalink

    If you want to leave something out for the birds, how about hair trimming after a hair cut? It’s been going on forever . . .

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve seen nests built out of all sorts of things – I think birds appreciate any warm soft material they can find. However, I’d say if we’re going to leave yarn scraps out for them, they should be cotton, wool, or other natural fibers, and not acrylic.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:20 pm
    Permalink

    I’m with you Mikey. God provided for birds and any other of our animals to provide for themselves. It’s just natural. I save all of my trimmings and knot them together until I have a giant ball of yarn, and I crochet a granny blanket.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:18 pm
    Permalink

    I was always to concerned about the negatives to even try leaving the scraps out for the birds. I use some of my scraps in my scrapbook projects & some as stuffing. But I also save some for my son & the local daycare so they can use it in their crafts.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm
    Permalink

    The birds are the Engineers of their nests taking only what they will need. I am sure if the bird chooses yarn it will weave it in smuggly . I have seen ribbon,string used in nests and never a dead baby bird.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm
    Permalink

    My son owns a business, Wild Bird Unlimited in Springfield, Illinois and he regularly advertises certain products in his business to hold just such nesting materials..yarn, string, etc.. Again, short pieces as to not endanger any bird. But if you’re still leary about it, he also suggests pet hair and fur..you know, all that that comes out with a good grooming or swept up off the floor. Total recycling 😉

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:07 pm
    Permalink

    I save my yarn trimmings for stuffing small items and corners of larger items. Birds were building nests before man invented yarn, leave them alone, they know what they are doing.

  • March 22, 2014 at 6:00 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Mikey……..I agree, I think the birds have been doing it fine without us and these yarn ends, and I always thought they could be hazardous to the birds in some way shape or form, I say let’s just leave it to Mother Nature as intended. TY! Hugs, Cat

  • March 22, 2014 at 5:55 pm
    Permalink

    I usually use m trimmings in my stuffed projects; I put it in along with the stuffing materials

  • March 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm
    Permalink

    very bad idea the ysrn or string can harm the baby birds or squirrels plus it would stay wet and like you say Mikey the nest are mostly out of sight only see the bottom of them or none at all when trees are leafed out

  • March 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm
    Permalink

    If yarn is derived from plastic ie. acrylic yarn, it won’t compost anyway. Once it’s muddy and dirty it will just be ugly. And birds have a tendency to pick at bright colors and eat them; not good for their digestive system. So yeah, no yarn for the birds.

  • March 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm
    Permalink

    I’m a vet tech. Trash the yarn trimmings.

  • March 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm
    Permalink

    Sometimes you have to wonder if we should just leave mother nature alone. It has been around a lot longer than we have and I tend to agree with you that I would be so upset to know that I had caused harm.

  • March 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve seen bird nest made out of horse hair and rayon tused to bale hay. Horse hair is as strong as yarn and never seen any dead babies. Birds take twine separate and use to build nest, so maybe they do same for yarn.

  • March 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm
    Permalink

    I honestly have never even thought about throwing my scraps out for the birds. I am an avid backyard birder and I love my little feathered friends. I even have my very own flock of Mourning Doves. LOL I can imagine how bad I would feel if I hurt them in anyway.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm
    Permalink

    I use many of my yarn trimmings as stuffing for cat toys. I cut the yarn to confetti size and mix with catnip. The cats love the toys and I love recycling!

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:58 pm
    Permalink

    I’m with you Mickey. I would be afraid the yarn would hurt the birds some way. I heard a hint awhile back about scraps of yarn,to save them to use to stuff crochet items with. Have a great day!!

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm
    Permalink

    I leave yarn for the birds. I have seen them take apart my outside rugs, garland strands left on Christmas trees, and bits of fabric. I have never seen any birds hanging from nests. Everyone has a right to do what they want, I think I will continue to do this.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm
    Permalink

    Most of the time, many birds will collect certain colors of items, depending on their species. I have put out very short pieces of yarn (1/4 inch short) and generally, nobody seems to want them. They do, however, love to take hair after I’ve trimmed a human family member, or fur after I’ve trimmed one of the dogs. Don’t fear, I use different trimmers for each. LOL! If you want to be as thrifty as possible, use the yarn trimmings for stuffing small crocheted cat toys or, if long enough, save several strands to either braid or crochet together or hook onto a stick to play “fishing” with your cat.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:49 pm
    Permalink

    I am glad you address this topic, yarn will get wet and freeze. I take my scraps and use them for stuffing of toys. I have also used scrap yarn to glue on balloons for string art. I am not for giving them to the birds.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm
    Permalink

    Cotton holds a lot of water and takes a long time to dry – I’d be afraid the baby chicks would not be able to stay warm and dry …

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:45 pm
    Permalink

    I think that keeping and using the scraps is best, I use old coffee cans and keep my snipped rails in them. When I have enough, I make a muslin bag and stuff it, then cover it with a crocheted sham. This way I have decorative pillows and no scrap yarn pieces.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm
    Permalink

    Yes…I tend to agree with that…but the Orioles love cotton string to make their nests…they weave it very carefully…did that for years while camping…their nests were lovely to see…no Orioles here so don’t put it out.

    • March 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm
      Permalink

      I read the article and it was GREAT. But a kinder way of bring this info to the group would be…”I found this article…” Next time 🙂

      • March 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm
        Permalink

        Thanks, Rosalie – I have been trying to find a kind way of saying what you just did, and so well. 🙂

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:33 pm
    Permalink

    Good, bad, or indifferent, you should only use natural fibers. Don’t, under any circumstances, put out acrylic yarn. That will kill the birds.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:31 pm
    Permalink

    Wool absorbs moisture
    No damp nests needed.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:29 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with a lot of the posts here. Birds have been figuring out how to create their nests for centuries. The less humans interfere with nature is probably best. I also use my ends to stuff toys that I make.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:23 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve decided to use mine for stuffing along with fiber fill.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm
    Permalink

    We keep about 17 birds in our home. My husband heard of the spring decorating idea, and decided my yarn scraps would make great nesting material for our canaries. The plastic(acrylic) yarn fibers became twisted around one of the males’ feet. He lost a toe at the Vet because the circulation was cut off, and we didn’t notice in time. We were so horrified to have caused one of our birds pain! We still give my used scraps as nesting material, but only the cotton, or wool yarn, and only very very short pieces. We don’t offer up any scraps outside, because I believe the birds would prefer for their nests to remain incognito… For safety reasons. The danger being both human,and animal predators.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve read this also but I’ve never done it yet. You make some valid points. I like to collect dryer lint & share it with the birds. No strings and it’s warm!

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm
    Permalink

    I usually save my yarn for stuffing other small projects. I also save them for the kids to make art with! Birds and squirrels around here are resourceful enough without my help. As pretty as it sounds for yarn nests, I wouldn’t want to endanger them! Thanks for the article

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm
    Permalink

    Something we do instead….I give my husband and 2 sons haircuts, in the spring we take the cut hair outside and the birds LOVE it. Anytime we find a nest blown out of a tree on our property it is lined with hair.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm
    Permalink

    Good blog topic! I think natural yarn such as wool or angora are perfectly fine — if, like you said, are 2″ or less. The short length of the yarn is not only for the birds, but other animals who may find it. Long yarn can be a hazard in a cat or other animal’s intestines. I am a spinner and love make yarn on my deck outside. I’ve seen my scraps in hummingbird nests. So fun.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm
    Permalink

    I fully agree with you! My yarn scraps either get tied together so I can spend an hour playing with my cat before going in the garbage (normally my scraps are too short to do anything with, even a “scrap project”) or go directly into my garbage pail I keep next to my desk to be thrown out the next time I empty it. I think birds nests are art in themselves, but at the same time they are built to protect and hide the bird from predators. I don’t think colorful yarn would help their situation and I certainly wouldn’t want to be guilty of birdy murder. On top of that, I have vowed to use only plant-based or acrylic yarns – so this topic hits home to that vow as well; to not let any of my creations create a harmful environment to those I’m trying to protect to begin with. Thanks for posting this!

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:04 pm
    Permalink

    I have heaed either from the Autubon Society or thrue the grapevine that by leaving yarn scraps outside for the birds to use in their nests draws attention to their nests for predatore to find them easier.So I have never done this because of this. Pat rand

    • March 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm
      Permalink

      There’s a reason animals don’t decorate their homes!! Mother Nature knows what she is doing, and does her best work without human intervention.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm
    Permalink

    keeping the pieces about an inch is good no hanging birds in my yard and i have been doing this for years i just cut them up into tiny pieces

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with you, let the birds use natural materials. After all, they’ve done just fine without the help of humans for hundreds of years. I feel that unfortunately a lot of our attempts to “improve” what mother nature has already perfected end up hurting things in the long run.

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm
    Permalink

    I have left out my yarn scraps for several years ( absolutely no longer than 2″). Even seen some of them worked into the nests in my wooded backyard. I think you just have to be mindful of what you share with them, no frilly, fancy yarn, just the standard acrylics and wool. To each their own 🙂

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve been saving my acrylic yarn ends and making one long piece from them to crochet a toy for my kitty. The cotton and wool, if cut into short pieces and separated into strands, probably would be okay for the birds. But I agree, they have plenty of natural things to use to build their nests and sometimes we can do more harm while trying to do good.

  • March 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for addressing this question, Mikey. I remember hearing a while back about this trend and wondering both how it would affect the birds and how it might affect the environment (are non-natural yarns even compostable?).

Comments are closed.