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If you dread the end of the winter because it also means the end of knitting scarves and sweaters for the grandkids, never fear, there's a new generation that need your crafty skills: orphaned and injured wildlife.
Courtesy: AIWC

If you dread the end of the winter because it also means the end of knitting scarves and sweaters for the grandkids, never fear, there's a new generation that need your crafty skills: orphaned and injured wildlife.

The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) need yarn masters to knit and crochet nests or homes from scratch. Holly Duvall, Executive Director at the AIWC, says the idea was inspired from American wildlife conservation organisations that tried the knitted nests and found them very popular with their young wildlife. "Prior to using knitted nests, a lot of rehab centres used margarine containers and small bowls to mimic nests in the wild," says Duvall. "What we're finding is that the knitted nests are definitely warmer for the babies and they can mould the babies better as well. They're washable too, which is really nice because we can re-use them."

This is the first year the AIWC is trying the knitted nest project. They sent out an appeal to Albertan knitters in April. The response was quick and enthusiastic; within a few weeks they had over 40 homemade baby bird's nests. "All across Alberta, people have mailed us nests, which is fantastic," says Duvall. "It's a really nice way for people to support our organisation and support wildlife."

The AIWC is still seeking volunteers to make crocheted cave nests for small mammals, such as hares and squirrels. These special homes are larger and more intricate than the bird's nests and look like little boxes with an opening in the front. While both acrylic and wool are perfect materials, colours should be carefully selected. "Natural colours would be better for the animals," says Duvall. "Of course, fluorescent pink would not work well. But any earth tones and greens and blues would be perfect."

The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation is an organisation dedicated to caring for injured and orphaned wildlife. It is also an accredited veterinarian hospital, and receives over 1600 animal patients every year. If you're not crafty but would still like to help, you can make a donation to the AIWC Forever Home campaign. The AIWC recently purchased the land it has been calling home since its foundation in 1993. They need another $550,000 to fully purchase the nearly ten-acre property. "Monthly payments are a large burden on a non-profit organisation like ours," says Duvall.

How Can I Help?

Look for patterns on the AIWC Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wildliferescuenests/notes. The crocheted cave nests can be either dropped off at their office or mailed to Box 68 Madden, Alberta, T0M 1L0. If you can't knit, but still want to help you can make a donation to their fundraising drive online: www.aiwcforeverhome.causevox.com