This Thing Called Courage

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Horse Hair Birds' Nests

(This is from Best Friends Horse Sanctuary)

At Best Friends, like just about everywhere else, spring is a season for celebration. Leaves start gracing those dead-looking trees that have stood barren all winter, flowers start popping up out of the ground, and we can all go outside for at least 10 minutes at a stretch without a jacket. Good times! If you happen to be a bird living anywhere near the horses at Best Friends, it’s also time to start laying the foundation for your summer mansion.
The horses at the sanctuary shed their winter coats like dogs and cats. Only difference? About a thousand pounds. Horses are big, and that means lots of extra hair to go around when the temperature starts to climb. Which is just fine by the birds.
Take a stroll around Horse Haven, the horse part of the sanctuary, and you can see something interesting in the trees. Horse hair nests. And if you have a really keen eye, you can even take a pretty educated guess as to who donated the building materials for each new condo. "Hey, look! It’s a Riley duplex!" Birds are the ultimate recyclers. We humans can turn plastic bottles into all sorts of fancy things, but only with a ton of processing and machinery. Birds can take horse hair and whip up a shopping mall using nothing but their beaks.
Of course, the horses don’t mind donating. If you think a long-haired Persian cat can whip up a lot of hair, you haven’t run a brush through a horse in the spring. We’re talking about gigantic piles, here. Let’s just say the caregivers have their hands full making sure the birds have plenty to work with. At least the treetops will be a lot more densely populated soon. So bring on the sunshine!


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