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How to Make a Bird Nesting Basket in 5 Easy Steps

Want to help your backyard birds along this spring? Add a hanging basket and share it with your birds to keep their babies hidden from predators.

Hanging Nesting Basket planted with various kinds of ivy.

Hanging Nesting Basket planted with various kinds of ivy.

What You Will Need

  1. Large semi-open hanging basket with good drainage
  2. Coir or moss for lining basket
  3. Potting soil
  4. Moss or light mulching material
  5. 4” diameter shallow container or saucer
  6. Plant material as desired

I like to use trailing ivy and geraniums. The ivy is easy to grow as are the geraniums, which tend to hide the nest. Any combination is fine just so long as there is room for a nest in the middle of the pot, and you choose plants that will thrive in the location you have selected.

Metal Hanging Basket with Coir Liner.  Notice the drainage hole in the bottom--that's very important.

Metal Hanging Basket with Coir Liner. Notice the drainage hole in the bottom--that's very important.

Step 1

Line your hanging basket with the coir or moss.

You can use more coir or moss to cover the drainage hole; that keeps the potting soil from falling out, but also allows for good drainage.

Then, add enough potting soil to fill about 2/3 to ¾ of the container, depending upon how large your plants are.

Step 2

Place the 4” container in the center of your basket on top of the potting soil.

This will be removed in a later step. Right now it serves as a planting guide, while also making a slight depression in the top layer of your potting soil.

I used a deli container that is approx. 3-1/2" to 4" in diameter and about 1" deep.

I used a deli container that is approx. 3-1/2" to 4" in diameter and about 1" deep.

Step 3

Add your plants from the saucer out and cover with potting soil as you go.

Remember that birds like to hide their nests as a precaution against predators. That's why you need to choose plants that grow tall as well as spill over the sides. Try mixing and matching trailing vines and tall grasses for a fun, beautiful basket. Experiment to see what works best for your particular hanging planter.

Arrange plants so they are pleasing to you.  After all, once the birds have fledged, you'll have your basket back again!

Arrange plants so they are pleasing to you. After all, once the birds have fledged, you'll have your basket back again!

You can add another plant in the center once the nest is empty, if you like.

You can add another plant in the center once the nest is empty, if you like.

Step 4

Once the plants are all installed, remove the container from the center.

The depression it leaves should be about ½” to 1” deep. If necessary, add potting soil to achieve that center depth.

If your backyard birds like what they see, they will most likely use the center depression for their nest. After the baby birds have hatched and flown away, you can add another plant to the center of your basket. It's up to you.

Step 5

Water your basket thoroughly.

Then, arrange a layer of moss or light mulch on top of the potting soil, including the depression for your bird's nest. Make sure to add just a very light covering over the nesting area. You want to preserve the depression you made.

  • Keep in mind the placement of your basket. Nesting birds can be messy! It’s best to hang your basket in a somewhat sheltered spot that is easily accessible to your birds. Nestlings soon become overheated and suffer in direct sunlight or strong afternoon sun. If your basket is hanging from a porch ceiling, be sure there is no furniture in the target zone below. You might also want to cover your porch floor with newspapers or a small tarp until the nestlings are on their own.
  • Here in the Northeast, the birds start nesting in late March right through early July. Choose plants that are tough enough to take some wear and tear while Mom and Pop are feeding and tending to their young. Once birds lay their eggs, you can count on about 2 weeks before they hatch and another 2 weeks for the baby birds to fledge.
  • Your hanging basket most likely will need some TLC after all this bird activity. And don’t neglect your watering schedule even if there is a nest. Just approach carefully and quietly, and water with the same care. You do not want to soak the nest or its contents! My solution is to water around the perimeter of the hanging basket only. After your baby birds have left their nest, you might want to give the foliage in your basket a good washing. Then apply fertilizer to revitalize any plants that may be in need of some help.
  • Even though revitalizing your basket might be inconvenient to you, your baby birds will benefit from the protection of your home. Predators like hawks, ravens, owls, crows, and 4-footed wild animals that might otherwise find nestlings or eggs an easy meal will not be approaching so close to a human habitat!
  • Moreover, if you regularly feed birds in your yard, or have bird-friendly shrubs and seed-bearing trees that also harbor lots of insects, Mom and Pop will be showing their babies all the treasures your property has to offer. The bird population will increase, while the insect and weed seed population will decrease!
  • It’s also fun to watch from a distance as the parents feed and nurture their youngsters. You’ll feel like proud parents too when the little birds take flight for the first time. Enjoy their first halting flights to and from the various plants, bushes, and trees. I love to watch Mom and Pop feed the fledglings after they leave the nest. The young birds use a wing-fluttering routine, as well as a special "feed me" call that the parents instinctively respond to. But after a couple of weeks, that routine has to be broken. It’s harsh, but it’s the only way the little ones learn to fend for themselves. After their parents teach them where the food is and how to obtain it, they are on their own!
  • If it happens that birds do not choose your basket as a nesting spot, be patient. Wild birds are very opportunistic, but also are very picky. Bear in mind, most of them won’t use a nest site that is less than 5 feet off the ground. Sooner or later the odds are that a very clever bird will find your basket irresistible. Even if they don’t, you’ll have a beautiful hanging basket to show for your efforts!

Do Birds Ever Nest in Your Hanging Pots?

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on December 21, 2013:

Thanks Shauna! Birds set up housekeeping in the strangest places sometimes. I had an old watering can that leaked, so I set it out by the front door on top of an old cupboard. The next thing I knew, there were birds nesting in it! I didn't do it on purpose, but I guess I provided extra housing!

I was very pleased to have won HOTD on this one. As always, thanks for your support my friend ;) Pearl

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 20, 2013:

Pearl, you are so clever. I wasn't aware that humans can actually set up house for our birds - outside of bird houses, that is. I'll bet your birds love your property.

Congratulations on HOTD. That's awesome!

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 26, 2013:

hula cagen, thank you so much for your best wishes! And thank you also for your supportive and generous comments. This is a fun and easy project that makes a big difference to our backyard birds and their safety. I'm so glad you enjoyed this article. Thanks for stopping by ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 25, 2013:

Better Yourself, thank you so much! I was thrilled when I learned the news. Nesting Baskets offer another level of protection for the baby birds just because they are placed much closer to 'people places' that most predators avoid! I'm glad you have installed bird houses to protect the next generation of songbirds. I'm so glad you stopped by ;) Pearl

Better Yourself from North Carolina on May 24, 2013:

Congrats on HOTD! This is a great step by step. I haven't tried this approach, only the typical birdhouse. Nice job!

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 22, 2013:

CZCZCZ, for some reason my reply to you disappeared! So I will try again--My nephew is at college nearby and they have the same thing going on with baby birds. The ledge outside his window has just enough of a depression that it holds bird nests and baby birds. He was concerned that being on the 3rd floor, the nestlings might fall before they actually learn to fly. So far, that has not been the case. Luckily, there is a large tree nearby, so I'm thinking the birds will use that as a staging area!

My nephew is studying to become a veterinarian and has always been interested in wild birds. So this is a great opportunity for him to see bird behavior up close and personal.

I'm so glad you stopped by to visit. I really enjoyed reading your comments. Thank you and have a wonderful day ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 22, 2013:

BDhire, so nice to see you! My nesting basket is home to a batch of baby robins that are just about ready to fledge! I'm looking forward to their first flight--hope I'm home when it happens ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 22, 2013:

Hi Thelma! It pleases me that you are planning on creating a nesting basket for the birds. This safe haven makes it easier for baby birds to survive and thrive. I'm so glad you stopped by to visit me ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 22, 2013:

KawikaChann, I'm pleased you enjoyed this bird-friendly project! Thank you so much for stopping by, and for leaving such supportive comments. I also appreciate the follow and the votes! Have a beautiful day in Hawaii ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 22, 2013:

StephanieB! Thank you so much. I'm pleased you enjoyed this article. I am very surprised, proud and happy to have won HOTD! So glad you stopped by ;) Pearl

BDhire on May 21, 2013:

wow its really simple way to create Bird Nesting Basket

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on May 21, 2013:

Congrats on the HOTD! I´ll definitely try this. The basket looked awesome and it will be a great hotel for birds. Thanks for sharing.

Kawika Chann from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place on May 21, 2013:

Grandmapearl this is such an awesome hub. Great pics and very detailed. Congrats on HOTD!! Upvoted/useful/following. Peace. Kawi.

hulah cagen on May 21, 2013:

This sounds very interesting and the instructions are very clear! Great hub!

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on May 21, 2013:

I love creative ideas and projects like this. Congratulations on your hub of the day!!!

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

Hi pstraubie, I tried to reply to your comments, but I guess it didn't go through the first time for some reason. Anyway, thank you so much for the congrats. I was very surprised when I received the notification! Making this nest basket for your birds will give them a safe haven away from predators. I'm so glad you're thinking of doing this. Your visit is very much appreciated, as are the awesome Angels you sent my way ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

BNaydn, I'm pleased you and your little boy are going to tackle this project together. I think you just might have a birdwatcher in the making! Won't it be fun to garden with him as well--I'm excited for you both. Enjoy your day in Jacksonville ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

bac2basics, Thank you so much! I really enjoyed reading your comments. Camouflage might just make the difference when it comes to bird invaders trying to muscle in on an established nest. I would be very interested to find out if it works for you. I'm pleased you visited me and my birds all the way from Spain! Your wonderful support is awesome and very much appreciated ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

bredies, Awesome! I'm sure you will enjoy this project, as will your bird friends. Imagine helping the next generation of nestlings survive in a safe and pretty little aerial home!

I'm so glad you stopped by to visit me all the way from New Zealand ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for stopping by. I was very pleased to read your wonderful comments. I know you'll enjoy making these hanging nest baskets for your feathered friends; and they'll be very glad you did!

Your sweet support and votes are so very much appreciated ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

Hi Jill! Thanks so much for the fanfare! I have to say I was very surprised and pleased to receive the notification. I'm so grateful for your support! You are appreciated more than you know ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

RTalloni, excellent idea! What an upclose photo op that would be! I'm very glad you stopped by. I enjoyed reading your very supportive comments ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

Mary! Thank you so much! I was very surprised when I received the notification. I'm pleased you liked this idea; and thanks so much for your support, votes and shares. You're the best ;)Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

ComfortB, Thank you! I like your comment about this being a 5 star hotel for birds--it really is because it provides them with all the comforts and keeps them safe. The only thing they might need is room service!

I'm so glad you stopped by; I enjoyed your visit very much ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

Luis, I'm very glad you are a diy-er! This project is something that will benefit your next batch of baby birds, plus you'll have a pretty hanging plant in the bargain. I hope you have fun making your nesting basket, and thanks so much for stopping by. I enjoyed your visit very much ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

CozyPozy, Thank You! Can't wait to see what birds take up residence in the hanging nesting basket you make for them! I'm so glad you stopped by to visit ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

Billy, thank you my friend. I am very surprised and pleased! I don't think I would have gotten this far without the great support of super people like you my friend. Your comments and continued friendship always make me feel very special. You're a winner in my book on all levels! Just like now, you've been there for me every step of the way, and I am most appreciative ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

SuperiorInteriors! Oh, I'm glad to meet another bird lover here on Hubpages. I've met so many wonderful and supportive folks! I hope things are going well for you in San Diego ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

FlourishAnyway, Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed this article. It's a nice way to provide a safe home for our birds-- away from hawks, squirrels and everything else that birds have to cope with! Enjoy your day, and thanks so much for stopping by ;) Pearl

CozyPozy from USA on May 21, 2013:

Wow! This is just the sweetest idea! Gonna definitely try it.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 21, 2013:

Look at you with the HOTD! Congratulations! Couldn't have happened to a nicer lady and I'm happy for you....you are now one HOTD ahead of me. LOL

bill

SuperiorInteriors from San Diego, California on May 21, 2013:

Oh, wow! Definitely going to try this! Such a great idea, and I just love birds so much. Thanks for sharing!

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 21, 2013:

Beautiful idea to help out our winged friends. Congratulations on HOD.

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

starbright, it sounds like you are a person after my own heart; and that you are surrounded by birds galore! Good for you for welcoming birds to your property, and providing homes for them. Your comments and supportive votes are very much appreciated. I'm so glad you stopped by ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

livingsta, It is awesome that you will be doing this project in your own garden. I am very thankful that you stopped by to visit; and for your supportive votes and share. Having this article chosen as HOD was a very pleasant surprise!

Have a great day ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

Thank you vertualit! I'm pleased you liked this idea. I appreciate you visiting me all the way from Bangladesh! Have a beautiful day ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

rose, thank you for visiting me and for your nice comments. I am so glad you found this article useful. As a matter of fact, I realized last week that a robin had decided to use my hanging nest basket for her newest brood! Have a great day ;) Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:

pstraubie48, so lovely to see you again! And thank you very much--I was very surprised and pleased when I read the news.

I think you will enjoy seeing the birds that nest in your new hanging planter. Thank you as always for the Angels and for your wonderful comments and support. You're the best ;) Pearl

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 21, 2013:

Congratulations on HOTD....awesome...well deserved...I will see if I can give this a try. Angels are on the way :) ps

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 21, 2013:

Awesome! I found your article both interesting and useful. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

Abdus Salam from Bangladesh on May 21, 2013:

Thanks for excellent idea and congratulations for your hub is on "hub of the day"!!

livingsta from United Kingdom on May 21, 2013:

Wow, this is a beautiful and interesting idea. Enjoyed reading every bit of this and will have this done when I have my own garden. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Voted up, beautiful, interesting and sharing.

Congratulations on hub of the day! :-)

Lucy Jones from Scandinavia on May 21, 2013:

Brilliant hub Grandma Pearl and a super idea. We've made several conventional nesting boxes over the years for various bird types like starlings, that come back year after year and strangely enough we have a wren that's nesting under our decking and several swallows nesting in our old barn. There are a pair of Cranes nesting in the reeds down by the lake as well as Pilgrim Geese. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful idea. Voted up.

Luis E Gonzalez from Miami, Florida on May 21, 2013:

Really nice and very interesting, thanks for sharing this, it will make a great home diy project!

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on May 21, 2013:

What a beauty! Any bird would love to nest in that basket you put together. It's a bird version of a 5 Star Hotel.

Congrats on the HOTD award.

Mary Craig from New York on May 21, 2013:

I've had birds make nests in hanging plants but what a great idea to make it more comfortable for them! This was a terrific topic and you handled it so well, no wonder it was chosen HOD! Congrats!

Voted up, useful, awesome, and shared and pinned.

RTalloni on May 21, 2013:

How lovely it would be to have one of these in a location that would allow for camera activity as the birds enjoyed their nesting basket! Thanks for the tutorial and congrats on your Hub of the Day award for a great spring/summer project post!

Bernadyn from Jacksonville, Florida on May 21, 2013:

This is such a great idea and excited to build this project with my little boy since he has taken an interests in birds and I want to do more projects with the garden. Thanks for sharing!

Jill Spencer from United States on May 21, 2013:

Hey Pearl! Back again to say congratulations on HOTD. Woo-hoo!!

Liz Rayen from California on May 21, 2013:

What a cool idea! I love this time of year when the birds come around. I have feeders all over the place for my little visitors. I never thought to create a nesting hanging plant for them! I want to create a few soon for my garden. Thanks for sharing this great tip and CONGRATS with HOD! Voted up and shared!---Lisa♥

Lawrence Bredenkamp from New Zealand on May 21, 2013:

Lovely idea!

Great detail - even I could do this.

Anne from Spain on May 21, 2013:

Hi Grandmapearl. When I first read this hub I thought how can you water your basket with baby birds inside, but then realised that nests get watered all the time when it rains...DUH. I have a nesting box and also pot´s on my porch and both get used every year by Wrens and Blue tits, however one year the Wren´s nesting box was completely vandalized by another bird and so I removed the little wooden perch at the front, I am going to take a leaf out of your book though and maybe cover the nest box with ivy to give it camouflage and I will certainly try your idea´s the next time I make a hanging basket. Great hub and voted up as such. Congratulations on winning Hub of the day, you deserve it :)

CZCZCZ from Oregon on May 21, 2013:

That is a great idea. At an apartment when I was in College we had several hanging baskets outside our back deck and we had birds nest in them every year, was pretty cool to watch. We treated them like wild pets, never thought of making a special set up for them like this. Love it.

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on February 25, 2013:

faythef, I'm so glad you stopped by and shared your dove story! Doves need this kind of protection as they are highly sought after by hawks. So I'm glad yours have a secure place in which to raise their young. Thanks so much for your wonderfully supportive comment; very much appreciated.

Pearl

Faythe Payne from USA on February 24, 2013:

An awesome hub..I had a pair of doves nest in one of my hanging baskets..they come back every year..Well at least they have for 2 years now..

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on February 03, 2013:

Hi tlpoague! I'm so glad you stopped by and enjoyed this idea. I think it's great that you will be sharing it with your neighbor. This means you both will have a hand in protecting the next generation of songbirds, and that is truly important! I very much appreciate your supportive comments.

Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on February 03, 2013:

Hello Eddy! I'm so glad you stopped by. And I'm very pleased that you will be trying this out. You and I share a love of backyard birds, and a wish to keep them safe from predators. It pleases me no end that you have shared this. I hope that others enjoy this idea as well. And thank you so much for your votes and your friendship. You mean the world to me, my friend from Wales!

Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on February 03, 2013:

Thank you Angelo52! I'm glad you will be trying this. Keeping baby birds protected from predators is extremely important I think. So I'm pleased to hear that you shared this article as well! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Pearl

Angelo52 on February 01, 2013:

Making a bird nesting basket seems like a great idea. I'll have to try this out. Sharing this article around.

Tammy from USA on February 01, 2013:

What a great idea. I will have to share this with my neighbor who loves to garden and is always looking for new ideas. I can't wait for spring to try this out myself. Thanks for sharing it!

Eiddwen from Wales on February 01, 2013:

Hi Pearl;another gem which like billybuc I am also going to take advantage of.

I shall let you know how I get on.

I love all your hubs Pearl and look forward to so many more.

I really do appreciate our friendship and look forward to so many more hubs for us both to share on here.

I vote this one up,across and share.

Lots of love from my little corner of Wales.

Eddy.

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on January 29, 2013:

Hi Deb, I still water the plants, but I do it very carefully so I don't soak the nest. That's why I like the coir lining. It does a good job of holding the moisture in for the plant without having to be watered too often.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 28, 2013:

This happened to a friend of mine. She was afraid to water the plant, so it suffered. I believe a Mockingbird used the plant for its nest and babies.

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on January 28, 2013:

Thanks Jill! I hope you have fun with this bird-friendly project. I'm curious to know what plants you will be choosing, since you are the garden guru! I'm very grateful for the share and pin.

Pearl

Connie Smith (author) from Southern Tier New York State on January 28, 2013:

Billy, I am so glad you are going to try this. You can be creative with your choice of plants and benefit the birds at the same time! Thanks to you and Bev for helping your birds by giving them a safe place to nest.

Pearl

Jill Spencer from United States on January 27, 2013:

Love it, shared it, pinned it, and am gonna try it!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2013:

What a great idea, Pearl! I showed this to Bev and she said "we are doing this." I never argue with Bev. Seriously, she is out buying the material right now. LOL