Here we present the first cases of birds using artificial plants as nest material. We report our findings for the common coot (Fulica atra) from Leiden, the Netherlands, in 2019. This is the first population of freshwater birds studied for its use of anthropogenic nest materials, and together with another report from the same year, the earliest case of an entire bird population with plastic in all nests. We also report the first artificial plants used as nesting material by birds, and discuss the implications of their usage as such.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is massively used, resulting in a new wave of litter: protective face masks and gloves. Here we present the first case of a fish entrapped in a medical glove, encountered during a canal clean-up in Leiden, The Netherlands. We also report the first cases of birds using medical face masks as nesting material, which were also found in the Dutch canals. To place these new findings in context, we collected online reported interactions of animals with PPE litter, since the start of the pandemic. This resulted in the first overview of cases of entanglement, entrapment and ingestion of COVID-19 litter by animals and the use of it as nesting material. We signal COVID-19 litter as a new threat to animal life as the materials designed to keep us safe are actually harming animals around us. To understand the full scale of this problem, we welcome anyone to contribute to our overview by submitting their observations online at www.covidlitter.com. To further prevent PPE litter, it is recommended that, when possible, reusable alternatives are used.