You can help out orphaned, sick, and injured animals by making artificial nests! Many wildlife rehabilitation groups use soft crocheted or knit nests for the animals they care for, especially for the baby and younger animals. The basic patterns are easy so all levels of stitchers can make them, and they are a great way to use up scrap yarn.
The nests help the animals regulate their body temperature, and are cozy just like natural nests would be. They need to be changed frequently so they can be washed, so having extra nests is often useful for the rescue organizations.
There are several groups which offer free crochet and knit patterns for the nests. Different rescue organizations need different types of nests, depending on the ones they already have and the types of animals they care for. For example, some nests might be small, stand-alone bowls. Others might be a “cave” shape for burrowing animals. Others might hang from a support.
The typical animal you think of that would need a nest is a bird, but they are also used for bunnies, opossums, squirrels, bats, wallabies, and other animals.
- Very tightly knit or crocheted, many times with two strands of yarn — the nests should stand on their own, and animal legs/toes/claws should not be able to get through the stitches and cause further injury
- Smooth machine washable yarn — Super Saver is great since it is sturdy and washes easily, but please do not use textured yarn or yarn with pieces that the animals can ingest
- Any color yarn you would like! It’s a great way to use up scraps, since the animals don’t care about the color
- Sizes from tiny (smaller than a preemie hat) to adult hat size, or larger for certain groups — check the requests of the volunteer group you are working with or the rescue you will be donating to in order to see what is needed
Here are some volunteer groups offering nest patterns and addresses of wildlife rescue groups to send nests to. If you don’t see information about your country on this list, do an internet search and you will probably be able to find one. Check to make sure they’re still active before you send in nests.
Coats & Clark does not endorse any of the groups listed. Organizations are listed for the convenience of our audience.
WildCare’s Baby Bird Nest Campaign (has good information, but is on hiatus in 2016 for donations)
Header image: Two cardinals in a nest from Songbirds Only Avian Rehabilitation via Wildlife Rescue Nests
Thanks to Wildlife Rescue Nests for providing pictures.