The Nesting Arbor

I saw my first robin yesterday, a happy sign of spring after a long winter, and it inspired me to clean out the bird houses around the yard and hang a basket of goodies for birds to build their nests. The cardinals, chickadees, finches and winter wrens stay throughout the year, but it is always a welcome sign to see the summer birds arrive once again. For my bird goodies, I just use a feeder basket that can be purchased at most grocery stores and bird feed suppliers, and fill it with strings of cut yarn no longer than five inches. I keep it as natural as possible, using wool yarn not overly treated with chemicals or dye. The birds have already pulled some of the strings and will weave them into their nests.

Birds seem to love my garden, especially the central arbor, even though it arches over a well-traveled gateway to the vegetable garden beyond. I have begun to call this the nesting arbor. Five nests were built last year within the wisteria vines that cover it, and throughout winter I keep the bird feeder well stocked.

There are lots of good reasons to make your garden more welcoming to birds. For example, it is no secret that birds are a natural form of pest control! Most garden birds eat a diet of seeds, berries, and insects. Additionally, in late spring and early summer, birds are busy filling the mouths of their hatchlings. Baby birds like nothing better than freshly caught bugs! However, that isn’t to say that birds aren’t an issue at times, especially if you don’t have a bird feeder. They will try to dig up any seeds that you have buried for their dinner. I know a few people who have had to get in touch with a bird control service (you can see an example of one at –, so it’s just one more reason to keep those bird feeders stocked so that they won’t make a meal out of your lovely garden.

This is excellent news for gardeners, because garden pests are usually at their peak in late spring and early summer. Birds can therefore save us lots of headaches by combing our gardens for cabbage worms, whiteflies, aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, cucumber beetles, grubs, and other pesky pests! Which reminds me, you can learn more about some of the most common garden pests to be on the lookout for this spring here: If you prefer home remedies better than pest control experts, there are options for that too. Especially for rats and other rodents like gophers which damage plants and crops, need special control. They can destroy the plants and also make horseshoe-shaped mounds. Gophers are sensitive to strong smells, they are known to dislike the smell of fish scraps, castor oil, peppermint oil are which you can easily try. However, you might need to ask for tips from the pros on how to trap these pests properly. When you adopt such home remedies that are chemical-free, you won’t harm the birds, just the rodents.

Some of the birds that I have befriended also love to nest in a couple of the trees in my garden. To be honest, it is about time that I got the trees in my garden pruned as quite a few of the branches could do with tidying up. I know that my friend recently contacted a Lake Oswego tree service to prune the trees in her garden so I think I am going to do some research online to find an arborist in my local area. Some things are best left to the experts after all and pruning your trees is definitely one of those things. I would not want to disturb any nests after all.

Anyway, here are a few pictures I took of the nesting arbor in my cottage garden this morning. It may seem colorless, but if you look closely you’ll see the wisteria has begun to bud…

Nesting Basket

Bird basket full of nest building goodies.
Notice the nest above from last summer that I haven’t had the heart to remove.

Bird House

Cleaning out the old nests before spring birds arrive to build new ones.
The mama bird who stayed here last summer loved morning glory seeds.
And I wondered why I didn’t have many seedlings last year. Now I know. 🙂

Swinging Squirrel

As you can see, I don’t chase my squirrels away from the feeders.

Cardinal and Finches

Cardinal and finches taking their turn on the feeder.

I never see the nests that are built on the nesting arbor until fall when the leaves shed from the vines, but I do enjoy watching the birds jumping in and out of the arbor with treats in their beaks for their eager young ones. Their high-pitched tweets echo throughout the garden when Mama arrives back in the nest.

Nesting Arbor

Nesting arbor in summer.

Wherever you are in the world, may signs of spring be in your midst!
Best wishes,