If you’re a bird looking for a new address, you'll find lots to love about hanging plants. Lush foliage provides cover for concealing a nest, and porches offer shelter. If you’re thinking that a sweet birdie family homesteading on your porch might be nice, don’t celebrate just yet. Birds flitting around your plants aren’t there to brighten your day -- their intentions are sinister. Nesting activities can decimate plants, which also become avian vending machines when they produce seeds, berries or fruits. Forget about being Ms. Nice Guy. Roll up the red carpet to convince birds they’re not welcome.
Keep an eye out for birds that suddenly appear to inspect your hanging plants. Wild birds begin seeking nesting sites in spring, sometimes as early as January. Take the plant down and part the foliage. Look carefully throughout the plant for foreign objects such as mud, feathers, twigs and grasses, hair, string or yarn, fur, cotton, bits of fabric, or dryer lint. Pick the nesting materials out, put them in a plastic bag and toss it in the trash. Do this every day if the birds are persistent. Recurrent nest destruction is often stressful enough to shoo many birds away.
Poke the tips of toothpicks into the hanging plant’s soil. Space them about 1/2 to 1 inch apart to create a bed of nails. This studded surface may be far too uncomfortable for even the most ambitious birds to build a nest in.
Tie a fake snake to the plant’s hanger. Position it head-down to make it look like the critter is crawling into the plant. Wind a snake through the plant’s foliage to rest on the soil surface. Place several snakes on the ground. Move all of the snakes once or twice every day to convince the birds that living predators are in the hanging plants as well as the immediate vicinity.
Open your curtains or blinds, and encourage your kitty to laze in the windowsill if you have a house cat. If you have an outdoor cat, feed it directly under the hanging plant. Cats are highly efficient hunters, and birds are at the top of the menu. The presence of these predators may be sufficient to send winged wannabe homesteaders packing.
Create visual disturbances that annoy birds and make them feel threatened. Hang shiny, lightweight objects such as aluminum pie tins, strips of aluminum foil, reflective tape or streamers, and old CDs from the plant hanger and in the immediate area. Poke a shiny pinwheel into the plant’s soil. Mount some wind chimes on the porch. Birds don’t like shiny stuff, and these objects come to life and flutter threateningly when breezes stir. The noisy, erratic movements make even the bravest avian intruders nervous.
Produce lots of noise around the hanging plant at every opportunity. Birds typically dislike and often won’t tolerate boisterous activity close to their nesting sites. Slam the door when the kids aren’t around -- you don’t want to set a bad example. Get close to the plant and yell at it while clapping your hands and waving your arms. Stomp around on the porch. Sing a loud, obnoxious song. Take the plant down and chase the birds out of it just to harass them. Give the kids some old pots and metal spoons to serenade the birds with. Let the youngsters throw a spirited party on the porch and invite all their friends.
Check for the presence of a hidden nest as soon as you see both parent birds leave the plant. If you nest,don't see a nest, wrap the plant in bird netting immediately. If you find a nest with no eggs in it, remove the nest and wrap the plant. If the parents are native songbirds and you find an egg in the nest, you’ll have to leave it alone until the babies fly away.