If you knit it, they will come.
Such might be the decree of San Rafael’s WildCare wild animal hospital, which for the second year in a row is summoning all knitters to help save orphaned baby birds by knitting them nests. As the baby bird season kicks into high gear, so have dozens of knitters who have filled the facility with colorful, and deftly woven nests — which look an awful lot like knitted caps.
“Imagine,” said knitter Teri Rockas, “it’s just a sweet little round, very warm, very snugly for a naked baby bird to hang out.”
Every Spring, WildCare sees an influx of baby birds left in a jam by tree-trimmers, cats and failed attempts at flight. They’re scooped up by concerned citizens and deposited at WildCare where they’re nursed back to their wild selves and released. A while back, vets figured out knitted nests far out-shined their twig and straw counterparts, and called-in in the knitters.
“This helps us reduce our waste so we’re not lining our nests with paper towels,” said Melanie Piazza, WildCare’s Director of Animal Care, who noted the nests are also reusable. “It also helps keep them nice and warm and cozy.”
Last year was the first year WildCare called upon local knitters to knit nests — the response was so large they had far more nests than birds to fill them. The nests came from as far away as Australia and even Iraq. So they offered to share their nests with other rescue operations.
“So what we did is we put out the call to other centers across the country,” said Piazza, “and anybody who needed them we shipped them to them.”
This year the group is once again raising the flag of knitting need — with plans to share the extra nests with other animal rescue groups around the U.S. Already, they’ve received hundreds of knitted nests as the knitters kicked their needles into high gear.
“We’re all coming from different walks of life, different places we learned to knit,” said Rockas who has already knitted a hundred nests this year. “It’s sort of paying it forward.”
Rockas began crafting her latest nest during the halftime of a Golden State Warriors playoff game - and hoped to keep on knitting through the finals.
“I can pay attention to the birds around me or the world around me and do this,” Rockas said, without missing a beat of her knitting.
Lee Moi Bekey estimated she’d knitted about 500 nests so far, and was thankful to finally have an outlet for her hobby.
“I don’t do sweaters, I just do nests,” said Bekey, who learned to knit as a child in her native Hawaii. “Our birds there, we have a lot of them falling out of the nests.”
Piazza figured the prolific output of the knitters was the result of finally having an appreciative audience for their skills — a chance to knit as many items as they could muster - without fear of them being banished to the back of a closet.
“People who love to knit,” Piazza said, “their families probably have as many sweaters and scarves as they can.”