Bird’s Nest! Make it Work!
First let’s see what Wikipedia gives as a description. Saves me some work.
What! Wikipedia does not have a definition! Ok…let me try then.
Well this is a bushcraft site so we should understand a little what we mean by a bird’s nest. It’s a simple tinder bed used to put an ember in so that we are able to blow it into a flame. Not too bad as a definition I guess.
Birds’ nests are very important if you are using the flint and steel or any of the fire friction methods such as the bow drill, hand drill and others.
So now that we understand what it is and what it’s made for let me give you a few tips that will hopefully help you if you are having any problems with it.
Nature can always help us if we take the time to observe. For instance a true bird’s nest (made from a bird) will contain very fine dry materials woven together. Now we know that the birds do not use it to start a fire but without them knowing they are teaching us something.
1. Material: Make sure that your material will be very fine, dry and can burn very easily. The Finer your material the faster it will blow into flames. And don’t forget it has to be very dry and something you know that burns well. Try and remember FDB….Fine, Dry and Burn.
2. Kind of material: Dried grass, fluffed up inner barks, processed birch bark, processed cedar bark and even a nest made out completely of fine feather sticks, be creative. When in wet conditions or after a rain look for areas where you think water has not affected a certain tinder you think would work. If you are out and it rained a couple of days or more, and you’re out in the bush look for areas where the wind has access to blow freely. Like on the side of fields looking for grass as an example. Your chance of finding it dry is greater because of the constant wind drying it for you. Do not be afraid to mix different materials to add to your success. There is nothing like a good recipe for something to work great for you every time. Hint : Cattail fluff!
3. Using it properly (Make it Work!) Prep! Prep! Prep is again so very important if you want to be successful. Lack of preparation is the main reason for not being able to blow your ember into flames. Make sure as you create your birds nest that your material in it is not too loose. If it is, your ember will burn right through, thus lacking material to get your fire going and losing your ember. Make it tight enough so that this does not happen. Again not too tight either because it will lack oxygen.
4. Another important thing that many people do as a mistake. Do not be in a rush when it comes to putting your ember in the birds nest. Remember this: The hotter the ember the faster it will catch on fire and that means less blowing for you. Don’t want you to get dizzy and faint on me now!!
5. Lastly! Use the wind to your advantage. Before blowing make sure you know which direction the wind is coming from. Make sure the wind blows the same way you are. This way it will not only help you but you will also avoid from chocking to death, as the wind is blowing the smoke back in your face, while your gasping for air in trying to blow back some air into your birds nest. Man! That was a long sentence. Hope this makes sense!
Ok… Not many pictures in this one. I thought I could make it a little more entertaining by showing in a VIDEO I made a while back how to blow your ember into flames. I use birch bark and cedar bark. My greatest recipe!