Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Value Village Goose and Gander (Plus tips for Displaying Birdhouses)

Sometimes birds can choose the craziest places to make their nests. 

That's the napping baby bird peeking over the edge of the pot just to the left of Mom's little black eye.

This grey dove decided a plant pot hanging on someone's front porch was the perfect spot to make her nest. Amazingly enough, this plant pot was inches from the homeowner's front door. 

If the dove's nesting site wasn't cuckoo enough, check out this Canadian Goose who made her nest on the narrow boulevard in the middle of busy Brampton shopping mall.  With a clear view of Value Village charity shop, I think she must be a bird with a keen eye for a bargain!

While urban development has pushed many wild and birds animals out, others seem to have adapted. Racoons, foxes and coyotes all live in our cities and skirt confrontations with humans by coming and going under cover of night. 

Canadian Geese however, seem to be a bit more brazen. You find them in city parks, golf courses, and even grazing on lawns in light industry areas. They seem to think nothing of strolling across a busy road with a long line of fuzzy grey goslings in tow.

We watched the Value Village Goose carefully covered her eggs with leaves, twigs and bits of garbage. Then she flew off in search of food.

A few minutes later, her mate flew in and took over the task of keeping the eggs warm. Just in case I had any malicious intentions, the gander turned his body in my direction and didn't take his beady black eyes off me. 

Though we Canadians have a reputation for being friendly lot, Canadian Geese are anything but! They'll hiss and snap, if you ever dare to come near.

The pair of Canadian Geese aren't the only ones nesting. Most birds are busy feathering a nest at this time of year.

Birdsong is one of the great joys of spring gardening. The excitment underscoring all the chitter-chatter is infectious. 

We have had a mated pair of cardinals in the garden for a number of years. When we began preparatory work to remove the two damaged trees in the back corner of the garden last weekend, my husband found the female cardinal's body lying in the no man's land between our backyard fence and the Region of Peel's new sound barrier fencing on the other side. 

Did she fly in and then get trapped by the narrow confines of the two adjacent fences? Whatever the reason, it made me sad to find her. 

I will miss her daily visits to the bird feeder that hangs just outside my kitchen window. 

A picture from a few summers ago

I like to encourage birds to visit and nest in the garden, but the majority of the birdhouses in my garden are more decorative than functional. I suppose I like their whimsy.

And speaking of Value Village...I bought this birdhouse there for $12. It was an ugly combination of yellow and green when I got it.

I primed it and then used a mix of colors to create a distressed crackle finish. I am not sure how I will hang it just yet. 

Here are some of the creative ways to display birdhouses in a garden that I have noted:

Private Garden, near Uxbridge ON

1. Display them on an old painted ladder.

Private Garden, near Uxbridge ON

2. Paint an old staircase spindle and attach a small birdhouse to the top of it.

Private Garden, near Uxbridge ON

3. Use a copper pipe as your pole.

I find that most of the birdhouses that you find in stores don't hold up very well in winter weather, so I like to overwinter mine in our shed. To make them easier to display in summer and then remove in fall, we came up with this little trick:

Take a scrap of wood (the size is less important than the thickness. You want a 1/2" thickness to attach the dowel properly). 

Drill a 1/4" hole in the centre of the scrap wood. 

Apply outdoor glue to one end of a 6" length of  1/4"dowel. Insert the dowel into your drilled hole and allow the glue to dry. Now attach your dowel mount to the bottom of your birdhouse and paint it to match. 

Choose your birdhouse location. Take a 6 foot length of copper pipe and pound it into the ground with a mallet/ hammer. This pole will stay permanently in place in the garden. (I like to hide the pole in some shrubbery.) 

When you want to display your birdhouse, simply slip the dowel down into the length of copper pipe.

My garden

Private garden in Brampton, ON

4. It is also a nice idea to display your decorative birdhouses in a village sized grouping.

We're in the Hayfield Now, Daylily Nursery

5. You can put larger birdhouses at the top of a fence post.

Metal fence post spikes make it easy to do. 

As a little aside, I thought I should point out how nice and tidy these beds of daylilies 
look when edged with hosta. 

We're in the Hayfield Now, Daylily Nursery

Here is an incredibly detailed birdhouse complete with a Canadian flag.

We're in the Hayfield Now, Daylily Nursery

Pretty blue one with a tiled roof.

Beth Powell's Garden

7. Group them with other objects if you like a flea market style.

A neighbour's garden

8. Attach them to a tall fence post or arbor.

9. Use a fancy plant hook to hang them on a wall.

A private garden in Eramosa Township

10. And of course the most bird friendly idea would be to hang them in a tree.

If all goes well, the Value Village goose and gander will have 5 little goslings. I worry that the young goslings will not fair well in a busy mall parking lot. Time will tell...

Have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. Here is a link to Gardener's World Episode 9 from the 2014 RHS Malvern Spring Festival.


  1. Your bird houses are stunning and I love how you have them all throughout the yard. I have quite a few also - on ladders, hooks, and tables. Thanks for the DIY on stands.
    Have a wonderful Mothers Day.

  2. We put up three bird boxes this year, we haven't bothered before because all our neighbours had cats - but now we are cat free - so the birds can breathe easy again - and we have blue tits nesting - needless to say, we are delighted. It always amazes me the unusual places they find to nest, but they obviously think they know best.

  3. I adore birdhouses! These are gorgeous!! How funny that those geese would pick such a busy place to nest - crazy!

    happy Saturday!

  4. What a great idea using the copper pipe. That's now on my hubby's list for tomorrow!

  5. Lots of interesting bird houses, I like the rustic ones.

  6. Beautiful examples of birdhouses here friend! There are so many that I am just smitten with up there! I do love the groupings as well! And how about that goose!?!?! What an unusual place for her to nest! Though we currently have a robin building a nest quite low and not far from the kids play house...we will see if she will actually finish the nest or move on to a new location! A wonderful weekend to you! Nicole xoxo

  7. There's a beautiful array of garden photos and birdhouses in this post, Jennifer. The use of the copper pipe and piece of wood is very clever. I think my favourite photo is the 6th one; the colours are so happy and it looks like the flowers are dancing.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.



  8. I loved this post! So many great ideas. Those mourning doves are notorious for choosing stupid places to nest - the closer to the house, it seems, the better they like it. I love the idea of all those decorative houses - but will the birds use them?

  9. sorry about the poor cardinal, what a shame. I do hope the goslings fare worrying!
    What an absolutely charming post, I loved

  10. Crazy Geese!! Why would they ever think to build in a parking lot? Maybe the store could put up a big sign to warn people of the geese and keep them safe. My dog & I were recently chased by a Canada goose down a street ... slightly embarrassing. I love all the birdhouses and ideas in displaying them. My dad made me some years ago, just unpainted since he read once that birds don't go for the painted versions. They're getting quite rotten now, but I still like to have them out. I've never had a bird nest in them, although my parents had great success with their bird houses. Wendy x

  11. I am also surprised to see the goose nesting in the mall parking lot. I hope the goslings have a safe upbringing. As for the birdhouses, wow, you have photographed some really interesting ones.

  12. Although we have more birdhouses than I care to admit to, I am embarrassed to say that I've never thought about displaying them in any manner, but what a wonderful idea! I love the first image here, for an idea. It's wonderful.

    Hard to believe that the goose choose such a populated place. Guess you just never know! Thank you for another wonderful post!!


  13. Jennifer, awesome post! I thought you were going to tell us about finding some great 'fake' goose at the Value Village and taking it home to restore. LOL.

    I absolutely love your bird house collection. What fantastic ideas. I'd love to incorporate some into our yard and am going to show this to my husband. I saw a great display of all kinds of birdhouses nailed onto an old fence once that looked wonderful and have always had in the back of my mind to try something.

    We had to have a dead tree taken down last year, and my husband asked them to leave the lower part of the tree for a clothesline. Your post is inspiring me to get a whole bunch of bird houses and nail them on the tree!

  14. great post on birdhouses...

  15. Love all the creative birdhouses here! I really appreciate all your tips on how to place them in the garden, Jennifer. That's usually my stumbling block, and I'm going to pin this for future reference.

    It always makes me smile when the geese near the pond at a local strip mall parade their goslings across the street. Drivers who are normally in a big hurry always stop to let them pass, which makes me smile even more.

  16. Great collection of birdhouses. I especially like the telephone box.

  17. Une très belle présentation de nichoirs. Très agréable!

  18. Jennifer girl this time of the year, and especially THIS year for some reason, is CRAZY !!
    I have my mail order plants coming fast and furious and I am losing what little is left of my mind with total garden thoughts and ideas as to what to plant where.
    I am exhausted, sore, aching, TIRED did I mention tired ? haha
    Love seeing all these different bird houses .. husband cleaned out the two we have on the grape arbor .. have another one to hang up yet .. the list seems endless and all I can think is that in another month or so it will just be maintenance ? maybe ?? haha
    That was sad about the cardinal .. we have scores of neon yellow Goldfinches .. two feeders are packed most of the time and the solar powered bird bath is busy as well .. the bird song and chatter is lovely though .. it makes the garden so alive.
    In any case .. gorgeous pictures as always and have a very nice long weekend girl .. I know we will both be in the garden right ? LOL
    Joy : )
    PS ... fingers crossed for the goslings !

  19. I love your dowel idea. Very clever! I am a sucker for a cool birdhouse and am always adding them to the garden. I look for ones that are functional, made in North America, and easy to clean out. I'm always excited when a bird moves into a house I've set out. It feels like a compliment.

  20. Way down here in southeast USA we have Canadian geese who have applied for citizenship, and I can attest to their irritable temperament. I was walking around a local lake, when a Canadian goose confronted me on the path. He hissed at me like I was the intruder! You have demonstrated some great ways to display birdhouses, and I particularly like the suggestion using copper pipe and a dowel. great post!

  21. I love the ideas here and how sweet with the goose. I also love your little vases with the violas at the top of your post.

  22. That crazy mama goose. What the heck was she thinkin'?!

    So sad about your cardinal. We've had a crow in the neighborhood for yeeeeears, that had some sort of growth or something stuck on the top of his beak. He's been comin' around every day for as long as I can remember. Our next door neighbor saw him on the ground a block up, dead, the other day. Another crow was standing over the top of it, wings spread, as if to protect it. It made me sooo sad to hear. But I was glad to hear it had a friend in death. That's what we all hope for, isn't it?

    I love bird houses in the garden. I need more, these photos are so inspiring!

  23. Wau biutiful garden. terveisiä suomesta=finland


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