Nesting Plans…

March 15th, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

Nest Photograph ⓒ  Tim Geiss at Poltergeiss

Chirping, cawing, calling and singing; suddenly, the forest has come alive with the sound of migratory birds. Soon, it will be nesting time and you know what they say: the early bird catches the best real estate. OK, so maybe that’s not quite what they say, but Cornell Lab of Ornithology does advise backyard birders to begin placing their nest boxes in February (warmer climates) and March (cold climates like mine). So, I like to get my rental units ready early, to attract as many spring and summer tenants as possible. Birds provide beauty and entertainment in my garden —to be sure— but my feathered friends also play a key role in natural insect control. I prefer to take advantage of this free service that nature provides for us, rather than use potentially hazardous, unnatural and expensive substances to control insect pests in my garden.

Finding the right house for both bird and landscape is important. I’ve found some really pretty, functional options amongst the ever-changing selection available at Terrain online (image courtesy Terrain).

When it comes to nesting boxes and bird houses, all species have different preferences and requirements. Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a great source of information, and you can find tips on what kind of bird house you will need and how to place it to attract a specific species (like say, a bluebird) by visiting this page on their site, linked here. Online retailers like Duncraft provide excellent pre-made birdhouses and kits for backyard bird enthusiasts, and I recently found some very stylish avian homes at Terrain, pictured below. So get out your feather duster and your screw gun, it’s time to ready the real estate!

Terrain’s Weathered Birdbarn $28.95

Nest in Hemlock Boughs. Photograph â“’ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

Terrain’s Thatched Roof Nest House $24.00

Tufted Titmouse  ⓒ  Tim Geiss at Poltergeiss

Learning to identify and protect backyard birds helps kids develop a respect and greater understanding of the natural world and balance of our shared ecosystem. Read more about the Tufted Titmouse and listen to its echoing and distinctive voice here at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. And please share the link with a child you know.


Thank you to Tim Geiss for his beautiful bird and nest photos.

Birdhouse photos are courtesy Terrain.

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Feathering the Nest: Providing for Birds This Spring in the Garden…

February 15th, 2010 § Comments Off on Feathering the Nest: Providing for Birds This Spring in the Garden… § permalink

My dad’s homemade wren and bluebird houses, cleaned, ready and waiting for placement…

Well, I have pulled out my bird houses, but as you can see, they won’t be filled with tenants anytime soon. It’s snowing here in the Green Mountains today. Nothing major, thank goodness, but we may be getting some accumulating snow tomorrow, (sigh). Still, now is a good time to start thinking about bird houses and their placement in the landscape. Birds are of course essential in every backyard eden. Beyond their obvious beauty and the poetry of their song, birds are the ultimate in organic insect control. Consider that a single insectivorous, (bug eating), bird can consume more than 100 bugs per day. If that isn’t reason enough to set out bird houses, feeders and bird baths, I don’t know what is!

Beautiful functionality: image from Terrain

The trouble is, many bird houses and feeders are unattractive. I am always on the lookout for beautiful, functional garden objects, both for my own garden and for my client’s landscapes. As a garden designer, I can be pretty critical. Simple and natural objects always looks best to my eye. Below I have linked some beautiful and useful bird houses available online from Duncraft and Terrain. There are some others listed in the Potting Shed page, and in my previous post on birds. You can also build your own houses from kits. For awhile, my dad was on a real bird house manufacturing kick. He started with a simple kit, like the ones linked below from Duncraft, and then he graduated to patterns, and eventually he developed some of his own designs. The bird houses above, (top photo), and probably fifty others, were created by my father over the course of a single winter. He’s moved on to other projects now, (much to my mother’s delight, I am sure), but I still love and use his handcrafted bird havens and feeders. If you are even the least bit crafty, bird houses are very easy to build from kits and patterns, (more on this subject will be coming soon).

Lovely green moss bird house from Terrain

I like to encourage bird house and feeder construction as a winter project for families with children. Respect for the natural world is usually something we learn from our parents or other important adults in our lives. If you have youngsters in your circle, lead them to The Audubon Society via their wonderful website, and encourage their interest in identifying birds through quality guidebooks. There are more useful bird-centric links in the blogroll at right. Now is a good time to clean and look over old birdhouses for safety and disease prevention. Before you get busy with yard work, think about bird house placement and get things up and ready before the new rush of tenants arrive. I am really looking forward to the return of songbirds. Aren’t you? My favorite is Vermont’s state bird, the hermit thrush. What birds visit your garden in summer? Do you put up birdhouses?

Natural Twig Bird House, $38, Available at:  Terrain

Vintage-Inspired Bird Notebook : $12 from Terrain

Ceramic Gourd Bird House, $32.95, Available at: Terrain

Natural and stylish: Duncraft’s Pretty Thatched Roof Nesting Pocket – $7.95

Simple, unobtrusive and classic: Duncraft’s Basic Bird Houses from $12.95

Build your own bird houses with easy kits (a great winter project with kids):  Bird House Kits in solid wood for only $15.95 from Duncraft

A functional and beautiful garden ornament, (great for wedding/housewarming):  Duncraft’s Beautiful Copper Roofed Songbird House – $99.95

More beautiful and functional houses, havens, feeders and more are available online at: Duncraft Bird Houses


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