02 June 2012

A Bird-Safe Backyard

As much as I've loved the Wall O' Vines on the back porch, it's become a danger to neighborhood wildlife.  Every Spring at least two families of birds move into the trellis and raise a batch of little birdlets:  usually house finches, sometimes Mockingbirds, this year a mama Dove and a single baby.

The problem is that I have three dogs, once of whom fancies himself quite the Bird Dog, and has taught one of his sisters his craft.  Last year Raven caught a young Mockingbird during flight training; this year - I believe, I'm not actually sure - Daisy got the baby dove.  They're good dogs, but they're still predators, and the trellis is no longer a safe place for birds to roost.

So today, down it came.  Last Wednesday I clipped the Sweet Autumn Clematis off at the ground, and let the top growth wither for a few days so that it would be easier to remove from the trellis.

This morning I got to work:  I chopped up the dead vines, yanked them down, and stuffed the whole bundle into the compost bin.

The trellis itself was actually two sections of an old metal standing screen that I had removed from its frame and mounted between two wooden rails at the top and bottom, all of which I painted black.

I un-bolted the screen panels from the wooden rails, then removed the top rail from the house, and re-mounted it about three feet lower than it had been.  I scrubbed the trim on the house and the porch post clean - under the vines, they get covered with all manner of mildew, bird poop, and bird dander.  I primed the wooden rails and painted them to match the trim on the house.

The last step was to stretch a section of wire fencing between the wooden rails, to form a new trellis for the Clematis to grow up onto.  I lashed it in place with hemp twine - not the most long-lasting method, but I was out of baling wire AND heavy duty staples;  I also think that if I end up really loving this new, shorter trellis, that I may end up putting wooden posts in between the rails, for a proper porch railing type of thing.

June 2, 2012

It doesn't look spectacular at the moment, no.  But once it's covered with vines, and with little white star-shaped flowers in the Fall, it'll be quite lovely, I think, and still provide privacy from the neighbors for us humans, without endangering birdies.  Bonus:  this also lets WAY more light into the living room.

And this picture also serves as a "before picture for the back porch, as well as an "after" for the trellis project.  Further plans for the back porch include:

  • hanging baskets
  • fixing up and repairing an old wind chime, and hanging it back up
  • sprucing up the wicker chairs, and making cushions for them
  • plants in the empty pots that are scattered around the porch
  • new lighting
  • and, eventually, the pergola/arbor I keep talking about building over the patio. 


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