It is hard to believe that birds could be starting to nest in January, but our hardy Anna’s Hummingbirds are at it already. Their squeaky, buzzy songs can be heard as early as late December, and they are known to nest from December through May or June, with as many as three clutches of two eggs each.
Their nests are made of plant fibers bound together with spider silk. They are often decorated on the outside with small bits of lichen, and may be lined with feathers or hair to make a soft bed for the eggs. For reasons perhaps best known to themselves, they are said to prefer white or light-colored hair.
In my yard, nesting material gets put out in early January. Yesterday, I hung three baskets of Pygora goat hair near feeders. I have seen hummers and other birds, notably Bushtits, taking these fibers.
Other hair or fur could be offered. My cat combings are instantly picked up as soon as I put them out in spring. Friends report that the clippings from white dogs are very popular with the birds, but if you decide to use these, please be sure that no pesticides were used on the animal prior to its being clipped. The use of dryer lint is not recommended, because of the chemicals from detergents and fabric softeners.
This year, I hope to find a hummingbird nest with a lining of goat hair.