6 min read

People Are Knitting Cozy Little Nests For Rescued Baby Animals

All it took was a minor accident to direct Katie Deline-Ray to the inspiration that started her global crocheting and knitting project, Wildlife Rescue Nests.

In the winter of 2013, Deline-Ray fell on ice and broke her right hand, leaving her homebound and glued to the internet. Deline-Ray, who lives in Ontario, Canada, told The Dodo she stumbled upon a live cam posted online of a hummingbird nest. A woman who lived in the U.S. spoke about making nests for her local wildlife rescue in the chat box on the website.

"I thought it was a brilliant idea and wondered if there was anything of that sort of setup for wildlife rescues here in Canada," she said. "Surprisingly there wasn't and that is how it all began. I couldn't find a pattern online for a crocheted nest that had a flat enough bottom, so I designed my own and started making nests."

For the first year, Deline-Ray supplied nests to local rescues in Ontario. She made a Facebook page to show off her creations and see if other people would be interested in helping supply nests to wild animals in need. By the second year, she was receiving requests from all over Canada and the U.S., prompting her to grow the project with a network of registered volunteers (currently, over 800) all over the world. The volunteer-made nests have been donated to over 240 wildlife rehabilitators, each of which are signed up for the Wildlife Rescue Nest mailing list.

So what makes a crocheted or knitted nest so appealing for the young animals who benefit from them? "The nests offer security and warmth, which is essential in rehabilitating wildlife," Deline-Ray explained.

"The nests are surprisingly versatile, especially since we have added the new cave nest designed for cavity/burrow dwelling animals," she said. "Initially, the nests were used for birds and small mammals such as squirrels, bunnies, raccoons and skunks. Since the rescues starting using them, we have seen them used for bats, hedgehogs, bush babies, wallabies, possums and so many others."

Wildlife rehabilitators struggle to keep wild animals stress free while they are confined during the healing process, according to Deline-Ray. The nests help provide comfort to animals, reduce their stress and increase their chances of being released back into the wild.

"This month will mark the third year of me crocheting nests and I am hoping to make my 2,000th nest sometime this year," Deline-Ray said.

"This project has truly grown beyond anything I could have ever imagined, and I am incredibly thankful for all of the support I am receiving from the volunteers," she said. "They are the ones who have allowed this project to grow to the size it has."

The animals thank you as well!

Deline-Ray's story also goes to show that it doesn't take much at all to make a major, meaningful impact for animals.

Want to join the crocheting cause? Read up on how you can become a volunteer here. You can also donate to the project's yarn and shipping fund here.

Even more important, here's a handy how-to on how you can crochet your very own wildlife nest.

Check out a few more photos below.