Winged squatters

Birds will take any opportunity to make homes from our everyday objects - from old coats to tractors

mallard nesting in potsHumans can be very inventive and it's always interesting to see ways in which people use items that they weren't intended for. It's also interesting when wildlife will simply take on a habitat because it suits them. In those cases we must leave them to get on with it and do without that thing or work around the creature who has decided to live in it.

Nests in the news

Some of the most unusual residences have made the news such as the ashtray taken over by nesting great tits or the traffic light with a nest full of mistle thrushes in front of it. Nests in car engines and coat pockets are also written about. A plant nursery I worked at in the 1990's had robins nesting in the tractor, while another news story tells of a family found in a car engine

If at all possible, everyone just says 'Oh well, best let them finish what they're doing' and we work around them, aware of the inconvenience, while being charmed at the opportunism of those cheeky birds. The ashtrays have been given signs warning people that there are birds inside, people can still see the red traffic light through the grassy edges of the nest and the tractor went unused for that season, entertaining those who worked in the polytunnel where it was housed. 

Bagged by the robin

It's the robin's bag now!

At home, the robin has decided to take over a small tool bag in the garage and uses it as a favourite perch. The braided fabric around the top edge clearly gives a good grip and the robin often polishes its beak on it. It is now the robin's bag and we use something else. 

In the garden, we feed all sizes of birds but want the small birds to be able to get at the food which is sometimes gobbled up by the larger ones. Our solution was to put a large upturned wire hanging basket on the ground and put the food under that. The small birds happily jump through the gaps while the larger birds eat elsewhere. 

A broken plant pot used as mealworm feederA friend recently showed me how she's used a broken plant pot in her garden. She was looking for a secure place for the mealworms she puts out for small birds, so rather than throw the pot away and add to landfill waste, she turned it upside down and made it into a mealworm feeder. The robins were already used to their dish of mealworms being put out and readily took to their new larder. Soon after, vigilant wrens saw what was going on and now the shy little birds visit the pot several times a day, taking turns with the robins. 

Wildlife tales

Has wildlife taken over an unusual place where you live? Have you made use of something to make a feeder or habitat? Let us know. 

Please note: the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS

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