Un oiseau dans la main…

It’s common practice in rural areas to put up birdhouses all around the property. Aside from the beauty and entertainment found in birdwatching, having a healthy population of assorted birds keeps the insects in check. Birds who find a safe haven somewhere close to your home will wage a war on the deerfly and blackfly, permitting you an opportunity to sit rather comfortably and enjoy the view. It’s been said that one Purple Martin can devour over 2,000 mosquitoes a day.

Birds are also the most natural defense against unwanted weeds in the garden, since they have a habit of enjoying seeds, and will peck about in the soil looking for droppings. Birds seem to have an incredible sense of hearing; just toss a handful of seeds out in the yard, and the birds will come from miles around, prompted by the sound of the scattering.

We have a large assortment of birdhouses all over the property, each one serving a different purpose. Not all birds will flock to the same type of abode. While some birds prefer completely enclosed “houses”, they are picky about the size of the opening. Other birds prefer open air homes without any walls whatsoever. Those birds are likely to build nests in the most unusual places. Such was the case last year when a wren built its nest on the rail of the garage door inside the garage, meaning we could not close the door for almost three months while it raised its brood.

If you maintain a healthy environment for the birds, many will return year after year. Every spring a pair of robins makes a roost on the shelf below the eaves beside the livingroom window. We made the mistake of cleaning it off the first year only to suffer a barrage of squawks for having done so. These days, we leave it be and the robins return every spring.

This spring was no exception, they returned, only to find a family of wrens had taken up residence in their nest. We were party to a fierce battle lasting several days between robin and wren, with the wrens defending themselves against angry robins twice their size, finally leaving the robins to perch on the deck staring dumbfounded until finding a new place to nest.

I’ve not even begun to discover all of the different species who make their home in my yard. Some are very apparent of course, the jays, the cardinals and the morning doves are recognizable by their plumage,  as the hummingbirds are by their distinctive “light saber” sound while they flit about the flowers.

We do our part to ensure their comfort, even leaving the dog’s fur in a pile on the railing for the birds to use as insulation in their nests. We feed them in the winter with various sorts of seeds, berries and suet. We only clean the houses and roosts after we’re sure no one has chosen the lodgings of prior years, leaving them free for fresh nests.

It’s fun catering to the avian species and they reward us with entertainment, pest control and acceptance into their lives.



  1. willowbatel said,

    June 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    What did you do with your garage open for a whole season?! Throw everything out on the lawn and put a $15 sticker on everything?

    • June 1, 2010 at 11:08 pm

      It was sooooo bad, I thought Paul was going to kill me….lol. We even talked to some people from the wildlife conservatory about things we could do about the nest, and we were left with no options but waiting it out. It made garbage disposal rather difficult, because we store it in the garage until dump day, but we couldn’t because then the raccoons and bears would get into the garage. And he couldn’t work in the garage, because it was full of mosquitoes, since the door had been open for so long…it was quite the kerfuffle.

      • willowbatel said,

        June 2, 2010 at 1:28 am

        Yes but it makes for a wonderful story and it was quite an adventure I’m sure. Raccoons are nasty brutes. (To my knowledge) we haven’t had any in the yard yet. I don’t think my dogs could handle one of them, and I’d really rather not have to go out and kill one because it was attacking my pets. I’d do it of course; I just wouldn’t enjoy it.
        Hopefully you keep your garage shut a bit more often now. At least during nesting time.

  2. Diane said,

    June 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm


    Birds seriously freak me out. You won’t find me putting up birdhouses. Ever.

    • June 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      You’re the second person in my life freaked out by birds. The first one went so far as to put nylon thread across the yard from the roof to the fence to keep them out.

  3. lookitsbray said,

    June 15, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    I hate birds! For some reason this is just a recent thing but I hate the little bastards!!!

    Chirp Chirp Tweet Tweet all the fucking time. If they would just STFU everything would be ok.

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