Shabby-chic nesting

I love the look of hanging wire baskets filled with seasonal blooms … to the point that I use these baskets during all seasons.  During spring and summer these baskets hold blooming plants.  In autumn, I replace spent plants, but retain the liners and fill the baskets with gourds.  For winter they hold pine cones and evergreen sprigs, and catch seeds that fall from the suet feeders I hang over the tops of the baskets – this keeps seed from falling into my perennial beds.  Smaller birds feed from the seed drops, but their daily pecking severely frays the basket liners so that by spring the liners can look pretty shabby.  This year, my admitted tardiness in replacing the frayed liners brought an unexpected benefit … tattered basket liners seem to be just the thing female birds look for when building their nests.  I like to think of my oversight created an avian shabby-chic depot.

Female Baltimore Oriole? collecting nesting material

Female Baltimore Oriole? collecting nesting material

I first noticed lady robins filling their beaks with coir strands as their men-in-waiting chest-butted for control over the front yard feeding ground.  Then I spotted a pair of house finches harvesting coir fibers in their nest building pursuits.  I was ready to remove the unsightly coir when I caught a glimpse of a female Baltimore Oriole – at least I think this shaky photo is a female Baltimore Oriole … they don’t pose well for photos.  She too pecked and tugged at the coir threads, carting them beak-full by beak-full, to an as yet unidentified location high in a neighboring tree. 

female goldfinch grabbing nesting material

female goldfinch grabbing nesting material

A female goldfinch flew in for her share of the nest-building supplies as soon as the oriole vacated – and she proved to be a better model.

birds like basket liners - old or new - as nesting material

birds like basket liners - old or new - as nesting material

Watching these feathered feats has been as visually pleasing as peeking out at the neighboring basket of pansies, plus following the birds’ direction of flight helped identify their nesting locales. 

Robin eggs that hatched two days later

Robin eggs that hatched two days later

One robin built in the rhododendron next to my front porch which allows observation of her brood from an adjacent window.  I quickly grabbed this shot of her eggs while she was out feeding.  They have since hatched into pretty active little chirpers.

Knowing my tardiness helped my feathered neighbors’ home-building plans has given me a good excuse to further procrastinate with my own container planting plans.  Maybe I can even procrastinate until annuals go on sale?  Now, if only I can spot that oriole nest hanging high in a neighboring tree …

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