It was in an ornamental tree planted in a parking lot median. The nest was built with shreds of plastic woven in. Looking around us, at how much pavement & concrete and how little vegetation there was, Johnathan (just turned 8 at the time) felt so sorry for the city birds.
I had seen delicate hummingbird nests made of our horse's silver tail hairs growing up, but this was the first nest I've ever seen made with bits of man-made debris & litter. It was an image, maybe overlooked by most, that had an impact on me.
This nest was photographed in our yard one frosty morning in February.
I couldn't help but note the similarity / differences.
Each spring, usually around Earth Day, our family cleans up the road we live on, end to end. Litter is not just a city problem, but a universal one. Some would say our area is near pristine compared to most.. but still, our quiet country road gets garbage tossed out on it every year.
Some years are worse than others, but I feel overall that we've seen a good improvement.
Currently the ditches are still buried in high snow banks.. but as soon as they melt away, we'll be out with our gloves & our trash bags to clean up what's hiding beneath them.
As I said in a past Earth Day clean-up post, I'm proud of our kids for caring & keeping the land clean. They really get into the clean-up effort & do a thorough job. But it is my hope that some day small children & residents won't have to pick up trash from their surroundings dumped by careless others.
It is my hope that birds won't build nests for their young out of plastic waste, as well.
I also shared in that post how I reported a compulsive litter bug on our road and it made a difference.
To this day, two years later, I haven't seen those items that were strewn along our road weekly before that.
How do you handle your trash? What do you do when you see someone else littering?
I dream of a clean earth for our birds, and our children, Earth Day & every day.
North Dakota, 2011.
*Update: I've received wonderful comments on this post, as well as my post on Dandelion Tolerance.
One commenter mentioned that they set yarn out for the birds to use in their nests. While I haven't seen a nest with yarn in it's construction, it reminded me somewhere in the back of my mind that I've heard of this.
It bums me out that we humans continue to pave over wildlife habitat so greedily, but I do think it's a sweet idea if you live somewhere where there is not enough natural material for birds to use for their nesting, to offer a sort of "fiber cache." One method is to fill a suet feeder with cotton fabric strips, yarn, or wool, all of which are safe for birds to use. Much more charming than nasty plastic debris.
I found more information at the Humane Society on what birds need for nesting and how you can help.