It’s not uncommon for gardeners to find house finches, mourning doves or robins nesting in hanging baskets. If you’re experiencing the first such occurrence you may react with delight—baby birds are so ugly they’re cute!
However, in most cases hanging baskets are hung near areas we frequent during the spring and summer—balconies, patios or porches. The reality of a family of baby birds equals a huge mess as they grow and take flight. Think: messy bird droppings all over said balcony, patio or porch.
Should They Stay or Should They Go?
STAY: You may choose to allow the nest to remain, and for the birds to fledge and take flight. In this case, follow your normal watering schedule each day for the plants in the basket. Water the basket from the side, taking care not to soak the bird’s nest. Despite its ultimate mess, the process of waiting and watching for hatchlings is enjoyable.
GO: Contrary to popular belief, you can move the nest a foot or so every few days to a safer location. Moving a nest too far, too quickly will likely confuse the parents and they’ll abandon the nest. Keep in mind that many birds, such as house finches and robins, have two broods. When the first brood has left the nest, simply discard the old nest. Make sure to check for new nesting material for many days, and discard that. The parents will get the message and build elsewhere.
BIRD-PROOF FUTURE BASKETS with these tips:
1. Create other nesting sites by erecting birdhouses or nesting boxes
2. Lay light chicken-wire type material over the soil in the hanging basket
3. Insert short skewers in the soil of the basket; not so sharp they might harm the bird but to create an uneven area in which to build
4. Install fake predators in your garden: rubber snakes or an owl
5. Add streamers near baskets; the movement will discourage nesting