The term “bird-brained” is an oxymoron; birds, at least those that I’ve encountered, are rather intelligent. Take, for instance, the robin who chose to make her nest atop a column on my porch. I would consider this a wise real estate investment. Not only is the nest protected from wind and rain, it is in full view of a protective bird-watcher. Once, when Mrs. Robin went off in search of worms, I spied a neighbor’s cat sitting beneath the column. He had murder on his mind. I opened the window and shooed him away. I can only assume that Mrs. Robin appreciated this act of kindness — after she returned, she let me photograph her charming brood.
If you want to attract birds to your garden, you must provide within it food, water, and shelter. Small birds like to build their nests in evergreen hedges; the dense foliage offers verdant security. I’ve noticed that hundreds of tiny birds overwinter in the huge, spreading yew beside my house. Trees and shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen, afford nuts, berries and seeds, the basic staples of bird-cuisine. A pond, fountain or bird-bath is also inviting, but this water source must be near a tall shrub or tree. Then the birds can quickly escape from marauding cats.
I’ll admit that sometimes birds make ill-thought nesting decisions. A friend couldn’t use her front porch for several weeks one spring, because a robin chose to nest in a twiggy wreath suspended on her door. Another friend, in the midst of painting his house, said that sparrows made a nest overnight on the top step of the ladder he was using.
Are birds nesting in your garden, or in some strange place around your house?