Homestead Stories: I Love My Birds, But…

Several years ago, my daughter informed me (with great excitement) there was a mourning dove nesting in my hanging fuchsia on the front balcony.

“No way,” I declared.

“Come see,” she insisted.

Sure enough, in the center of my prized fuchsia was a mourning dove, packing things down to make a nest. I wasn’t too pleased. I love my fuchsia and in my northern climate where one day it’s below 0-degrees Celsius and the next it’s 30 above, having a healthy, prolifically flowering fuchsia was a rarity.

fuchsia flowers
ashleigh2020 / Flickr (Creative Commons)

It was a lovely plant, uninfected by the bugs or fungi that intense humidity usually encouraged. I guess the mourning dove felt the same as I did and picked the loveliest of my hanging fuchsias to build its nest.

I was saddened to see the deterioration of my fuchsia, but the disappointment was replaced with awe as we watched the mother bird care for her nest, and when they hatched, the baby birds testing their wings.

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It was a learning experience, but one I didn’t want to repeat. The mess the birds made was not confined to the now incapacitated fuchsia. Bird poop and discarded seeds were strewn helter-skelter everywhere.

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I have bird feeders all around the house, and I enjoy watching the birds flock to my feeders, but I draw the line when they decide my space — my house — should be theirs.

I’m not vindictive and would never hurt a bird. However, after the mourning-dove-in-fuchsia experience, I was determined not to let other birds nest on my house or in my hanging pots. All my hanging pots now have plastic prongs sticking upward. It’s a deterrent which seems to discourage the birds from trying to nest.

This year’s issue was a couple of robins who insisted on building a nest on the bend in the downspout. Several times a day, I would brush away the nesting materials and hose it down, only to have to repeat the action the following day. I did some research, and that’s when I decided to get creative.

Emily-Jane Hills-Orford / Insteading

I discovered that birds don’t like shiny, noisy objects in locations where they eat or nest. I had already hung tinfoil plates around my vegetable garden, particularly around the tomatoes and green peppers. It worked well, but the nesting on the downspout presented a unique problem due to its location. I decided to try aluminum foil.

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I tore off a long strip of foil. Then, I cut strips along the edge, cutting only about halfway across the width. Now, to install the foil so it wouldn’t blow away or be pulled out from between the downspout and the outer wall of the house. I recalled reading that old CDs are a good reflective deterrent, and birds shied away from them. I dug out some old CDs, pulled out the ladder, and began installing my bird-away device.

Emily-Jane Hills-Orford / Insteading

Once again, I cleared away the latest attempt to build a nest. Then I tucked the foil along the length of the downspout that had previously supported the nests, pushing the CDs into the foil, and making sure there were sufficient securing points. I left lots of flapping pieces of aluminum foil to create a maximum effect.

It took several tries because the location was awkward to reach. Finally satisfied I had done the best I could, I stepped off the ladder and studied my creation.

aluminum deterrent for robins
Emily-Jane Hills-Orford

Standing well enough away, I watched and waited. Sure enough, the robins returned to try again. They arrived with beaks full of nesting material. Only, this time, they didn’t even land on the downspout. They turned around in disgust (or perhaps fear) and flew away to plant their nesting material somewhere else.

Related Post: Birdhouses: 32 Homes For Your Feathered Friends

I went inside and sat by the window to continue observing. The birds returned several times over the course of the day, arriving with beaks full of nesting material, only to immediately turn and fly elsewhere with beaks still full.

I watched the area over the next few days and was satisfied to observe no further nesting attempts in that location. Every time I approached the front of the house, I looked up and saw the flapping strands of foil doing the trick and thankfully, no dribbling pieces of grass or other nesting materials.

I decided to leave my creation for the remainder of the summer, knowing full well that the robins would probably return at a later date to try again. If nothing else, they were resilient. And persistent. The robins are still around, but they no longer trying to nest on my downspout.

As for altering my front décor? Not a problem.

My friend commented, quite honestly, “It looks good. Very artsy.”

Written by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Emily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books, including Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. She writes about the extra-ordinary in life and her books, short stories, and articles are receiving considerable attention. For more information on the author, check out her website at:

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