why there is a Christmas wreath on my door in April

by | May 3, 2019 | All Things Home, Gardening | 51 comments

I learned last spring that one can get away with having Christmas greenery and lights up on a porch until April in Minnesota. Since there is still snow on the ground, it just works and seems acceptable.

(On Instagram, a reader and I dubbed the snow pattern on this door “snowmbre”.  Get it?  Snow…ombre?  Moving on.)

But, the live greenery was starting to look sad just before Junk Bonanza, so I took a bit of time to take it down.

Just before I did that, though, Jeff pointed out that there was a bird’s nest in the wreath.  I hadn’t noticed it, because it’s built in the top, left, inside corner of the wreath.  It’s really nestled in there and you can’t see it when you’re looking head-on at the door.  He told me we needed to remove the nest, so we don’t have birds pooping all over the door and the porch and swooping down on us when we’re just trying to get in and out of our house.

Well, we didn’t remove the nest quickly enough and mama bird laid two eggs.

And then two more…

And then a fifth egg…

I was starting to think the Duggars moved into the nest on my front door, but the parents seem to have decided that five is enough.

When there were only two eggs in the nest, I looked up the process for moving the nest to a safer, more convenient place and I learned that it’s illegal to move an active nest of native birds.  So, the nest is staying.  Secretly, I’m glad that we are legally obligated to leave the nest (Jeff was pretty determined to move it).  Maybe I’ll change my tune when the babies are making a mess, but there is something sweet about nature happening right on our door.

So, now I’m on egg watch.  Since the nest is at the top of the wreath, I can’t see the eggs unless I hold my phone up to take a picture and see what’s happening.  It’s been fun to watch the mama bird move the eggs around.  They are sometimes in different positions when I do my daily check.  Usually, the mom will fly away when we open the door.  I’ve gotten in the habit of opening the door slowly and giving the mom notice, so she flies to a nearby tree instead of inside the house.  There have been a couple of times when I open the door slowly and she just sits there, looking at me like, “Excuse me.”   But, then, she’ll relent and fly away, so I can exit my house.

We just had a few inches of snow last week, so I’m glad the babies were under the shelter of our porch.  I found myself thinking, I hope our little eggs are okay!

I’m getting too invested…

I am not a bird-watcher, so I’m not sure what variety we have.  I thought they were robins because I saw some hanging out in our front tree and I thought one flew there from the nest, but when I’ve gotten a closer look at the mama bird, she seems smaller than a robin.  Someone on Instagram suggested a finch.  Any ideas just from the nest and eggs?  I’ll try to get a picture of the mom.

In other garden/spring news, most of the beautiful boxwoods I planted last year died over the winter.

Some of them are salvageable, but over half of them are past the point of no return.  Fortunately, I bought most of them at a local nursery and they have a one year guarantee.  So, I’ll go back in a couple of weeks and get some replacements.  We had the coldest winter in almost 20 years and record snowfall in February, so they had to stand up to a lot.  Next year, I’ll do some research on winterizing them, so they can have a better chance at survival.  These are green velvet boxwoods and they are supposed to do fine in this zone.  I have noticed larger, more established boxwoods in our neighborhood that survived.  I think my boxwoods were just too young and not well established.

I am hoping to see the Sweet Autumn Clematis coming up soon along with the hostas.

Spring comes late here in Minnesota…




  1. Betsy

    Good luck with the birds. I finally had to stop having a wreath on our main door because it became a birthing suite multiple times in one season. I always thought nests were a one time only use. The house we live in now has a big holly bush right outside our back door. There are Morning Doves nesting in there now and every time we go out the back door we just forget that the parents are there waiting to protect and are startled by birds flying across our heads.

  2. Stacey Arps

    I’ve had the same experience with a nest up in a corner of our porch ceiling. I didn’t mind at first but it did get messy. And more than once I got dive bombed. Fortunately mamabird abandoned the nest once the babies could fly, so after a watching for her return a couple weeks, we removed it.

    And I agree, your boxwoods just weren’t well enough established. I’m in eastern Nebraska and even my five year old ones took a beating from the winter cold. They’ll be fine but needed some trimming and a few weeks of sunshine and warmer weather to recover. Thank heaven for one year guarantees on shrubs! And even bigger thanks for the warmer weather and sunshine!

    And now that I’m counting blessings I’m thankful that my redbud tree and my creeping phlox are in bloom (at the same time!) and have lasted two weeks and counting. I love spring!!!

    Thanks for a warm, real, creative place for me to visit on a regular basis. I love the ‘mustard seed mentality’! Faith, not fear…😊

  3. Teresa

    I have to give it to “Minnesotans” you are truly a hardy bunch! I would go crazy with snow still in April. Come middle March, I am ready to hang my Spring wreath and say good-bye to Winter.

    Not sure what type of bird eggs they are but I guess you find out soon. I had to stop having a wreath on the outside on my glass storm door because birds would always make a nest and a mess! Instead I put a wreath between the two doors on the inside now.

  4. Julie

    Hi Marian, First, let me say I love your blog and have been following it for years. I have learned so much from you ! I have about 20 boxwoods of the same variety. Mine are well established and large and look terrible this Spring. I will not be buying that variety again!(my second batch in 20 yrs) I’m not sure if it is box blight or winter damage. I have learned from Laura at the vlog GardenAnswer of a variety called Sprinter or a boxwood substitute Called Gem Box Inkberry Holly. I will be using the holly if I need to replace all my boxwoods this Summer. Check out the vlog. She has some great info on boxwoods. Hope this helps!

  5. Terry A.

    My well-established green velvet boxwoods bit the dust after this winter, so I feel your pain. It was a tough winter, and I think they’re beyond help. At least they gave me many years of pleasure. I’m glad you can get replacements for the ones you lost.

    It will be fun to see the eggs hatch!

  6. Mary

    I am positive the nest is a purple finch nest as they love to nest in somewhat protective areas. I have had similar nests in hanging plants on our porch. This year they started to build a nest in a bow on my Christmas garland. I quickly removed the bow before nest construction was complete. As to your boxwoodandspruce, did you use salt on your sidewalk for ice? It is deadly to plants and often causies that yellowing.

  7. Paula

    I don’t know what type of bird it is either but I had a nest with the same type of eggs on my wreath—4 of them—until this morning. I now have a nest full of baby birds! Last evening I suspected they hatched when the mother didn’t leave the nest despite my tapping before opening the door. My husband and I are “empty nesters,” (pun intended-lol), so we are enjoying watching this little family! I’ve been following your blog for years and it’s my favorite!

  8. Petunia

    I have had nests built in my front door wreaths in the past. No mess, no bird attacks when coming/going, not even if our small dog was around. The momma birds felt safe there and I shooed away cats several times. We used another door whenever we could to avoid disturbing them. Once the babies flew away we would remove the nests. We do our best to not get in nature’s way.

  9. Sheila Sabin

    You may want to look into Japanese holly varieties to replace the boxwood. They are much more cold hardy and look very much like boxwood without the cat pee smell. . If that doesn’t appeal to you, Google ‘cold hardy boxwood.’ There are a number of boxwoods that were bred to be cold hardy, an important characteristic for a boxwood in Minnesota!

  10. Maryann Cook

    We had baby birds in a nest on a porch column a couple of years ago… until a snake got UP there. That was a surprise to see a snake dropoff the porch roof!

  11. Lesley Brown

    That is so lovely that a bird nested in your porch, you should feel honoured xx I’m pleased you could give shelter to one of Mother Nature’s children ( which we are too)

  12. Linda

    Two years ago we spotted a nest on the top tier of a wire plant stand on the porch. One egg at a time (of 3) appeared and we assumed they were robin eggs from the size and color. No. It was a cardinal! The mama bird’s color is a bit dull but possibly those are cardinal eggs on your wreath. It’s a treat to watch them hatch and grow. Oh, sadly we also lost our young boxwoods. We’re straight east of you in WI, near Lake Michigan. Rough winter for sure!

  13. Sue Anderson

    How about a bird cam? That would be fun.

  14. Pamela O'Donnell

    I have the same situation in PA!

    A robin’s nest every spring – except this one ☹ I think I switched from the winter wreath to the spring wreath too late in the season. My spring wreath is so ratty, but I’ve kept it because I LOVE having the nest in it! When mama robin boots the kids out, I remove the nest, bake it to kill whatever critters are lurking, and use it for décor. I have several them that I tuck in the branches of our Christmas tree. So lovely

  15. Barbara

    I’ve had good luck putting a small nest with fake eggs in my wreath, I guess the birds think the “home” is already occupied. They are fun to watch though, I’ve had sparrows on my planters in the past.

    • Amy

      What a clever idea! I was going to suggest hiding a rubber snake at the top of the wreath but your suggestion is prettier.

  16. DBLori

    We used to get a mama duck who laid her eggs in our planter at the front of our house. We had those plants that smell like garlic that’s supposed to ward off cats (they had a habit of using the planter box as a litter box). You wouldn’t even notice the mama duck as she was so well hidden. We had to change the plants last year because they had something wrong with them. The mama hasn’t been back since.

  17. Candice Hope

    Word of advice… make sure any planters, chairs or other porch decor are far enough away from the front door that a cat cannot use it as a launch pad to get at the babies once they hatch. I learned the hard way and lost a favorite pot and babies in the process.

  18. Ellen Shook

    We have had multiple bird’s nests with eggs this year. Maybe it is something in their survival instincts? The one in our Cecile Brunner roses on the arbor over the front steps has babies in there now, the eggs having hatched, and they make a lot of noise! When they fly away, we will get rid of that nest. Every year, we clean up the nests in the fall. I suppose that is the price we pay for lots of trees and plantings. Last year, some rather vicious species made nests in the Lady Banks which covers the arbor over the gate to the back garden. They were very mean if you got near the gate, swooping and threatening. I will still deal with it, though, rather than live in a barren landscape.

    • Kathy D.

      They are not vicious birds! They are just protecting their nests. And to be honest why do people think they are it in this world. Nature would thrive and survive without us. It is ignorant man that would die without nature and all the beauty and life it has to offer.

  19. Mary

    Hi Marian,

    I’m so happy you left the nest❤️. I didn’t know that it is illegal to move them. So you e taught me something today. We used to live in Texas and had barn swallows who made a nest every year on our front porch. It was noisy and messy, but we waited for them each year!

  20. Debra

    We had a birds nest on our front porch in a flower box. It was right by the front door. We would have dinner in the evening and momma bird would sit on the back of our chairs so she could sweep in and steal little morsels of food. She would bring it back to the nest. Wasn’t afraid of us at all. Once the babies could fly they moved on. It was very sweet.

  21. Sara Coblentz

    A few years ago, our daughter, SIL, and grandson lived in Buffalo, MN. They had a finch nest on their door wreath too. Just a word of caution they will bring mites (a lot of mites) and can get in your house and it’s not good. You might want to move it. Before they hatch.

    • Marian Parsons

      Is it illegal to move a finch nest?

      • Sara

        I found this info online for dealing with nest parasites;
        At least 2500 species of mites from 40 families are closely associated with birds, occupying all conceivable habitats in the nests and on the bodies of their hosts. No avian is free from a mite. Bird mites can be divided into those that dwell primarily in, or near, the nest and those that reside mainly on the body of the host. The best studied nest-dwelling mites are blood feeders from the genera Dermanyssus and Ornithonyssus (shown here is a micrograph of a female Ornithonyssus bursa, a common nest parasite of passerines. These mites have short generation times and can rapidly build-up huge populations. For example, half a million northern fowl mites have been extracted from a single nest. Blood-feeding nest mites can reduce the reproductive success of their hosts by slowing development or even killing chicks.
        There’s a product I use to kill parasitic and blowfly larva that is not harmful to you or the nestlings. ​Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth – Organic Crawling Insect Killer. With all the concerns about pesticides today – you can rest assured that Diatomaceous Earth is safe & effective. Made from the finely ground fossils of prehistoric fresh water diatoms. Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) kills common household and garden pests like roaches, ants, fleas, beetles and many others. It is a long lasting control — sprinkles easily into cracks and crevices where bugs hide and wipes them out!

      • Kathy D

        Moving a nest would be just plain mean. I have had a nest above my window every year since I moved in and no mites in the house. Also I believe in a warmer climate they survive longer in nests. We need birds and at the rate of the biggest mass extinction going on right before our eyes all wildlife is of value. Our screw ups by moving flora and fauna from other countries has caused an extreme imbalance for the environment. And now we have the emerald ash borer and the spotted lantern fly which are invasive and killing our trees, fruit trees and grape vines etc. The amount of herbicides and pesticides used has been killing off local wildflowers and native bugs. Monarchs have been in a decline for years. Bees are dying out also which will affect our food being the great pollinators. So moving birds when they are nesting is just not a good idea. Besides the babies grow pretty quickly and are out of the nest in no time.

  22. Cindy

    In northern MN…Bemidji…we have a robin family that has returned every spring for over 6 years. They started building a nest in our back door porch light…and did that for several years. Last year we decided to put up a wood robin’s nest next to the porch light. It has a roof, floor and three sides. They started to build their nest on top it so my husband put the nest beginnings inside and they got it. We had three baby robins. This year they are building the nest on top again. I reached up to move it and the robin was in our yard and ‘shouted’ out to me to stop. So I did. The nest is almost complete on the top of the wood box so that is where it will stay. We really enjoy watching the babies grow and fly away every year.

  23. Claire

    I keep a heavy iron bird on top of a pillar on the inside of my porch to keep birds from nesting there. This year a mama Eastern Phoebe built a nest on top of the bird. It looked the Phoebe was riding the iron bird inna saddle. She laid five eggs and I too had to use my cell phone to check on the nest. One day before they hatched the eggs were just gone, no trace of eggs or bird poo or distress, just gone.

  24. Evea

    We’ve had bird couples try to nest on our front porch for years. We keep the front door light on all night and perhaps the extra warmth was like a “for rent” sign. Anyway, I’m afraid of birds, although appreciate them from afar. As soon as I see a nest being formed I destroy it. There have also been attempts to build nests in our front door wreaths and I have to get rid of them too. We have multiple trees in our spacious back yard, so it’s not we live in a big city high rise with only ledges.

    • Kathy D

      Seriously you are afraid of birds why. Gosh everyday I get up early to feed them. They are harmless! A few will dive bomb if you go near their nest like mockingbirds. Cat birds will play like they are wounded and stretch out their wing and drag it like they are hurt to lure you away from their nest. But basically they are nothing to be afraid of. People are a lot more scary to me!

  25. Pamela

    Minnesota is absolutely beautiful to visit, I used to have to go there for work at times, but I don’t think I would want such long winters. What I have in western Maryland is bad enough. When there in January I had to fly home with the most horrendous head cold I caught that week. I had to laugh though, when there in May or June (don’t remember, it was summer) one of the people at the department at the university where I was at for work on the research project we all worked on (I worked 15 years for Johns Hopkins) picked us up at the hotel to take some of us out to dinner. One of the people I work with here in Maryland asked, “what is rush hour like?” It was about 5:00 or so. They said, “this is it?” We all just looked at each other and cracked up. Your rush hour is about the way, on a GOOD day, on a Sunday morning at about 4 am on the DC beltway might be, on a slow day. There were barely any cars anywhere. I am envious YOU are so close to the NordicWare Bundt pan one company one and ONLY outlet. But I can’t believe these birds. Are you using that door? I would think the door opening and shuting all the time would be a BIG problem, for the birds. I would be TERRIFIED a bird would fly in the house. I’ve had a bird in my home before, it is a nightmare. I quickly glanced over the article so maybe I missed it, what type of birds are they? I know people in this world that would have destroyed this nest. You are good and true lovers of nature and you will be rewarded. I would leave the nest, but sadly not everyone in this world would.

  26. Sherrie

    I bet your boxwoods are reacting to salt/snow melt. I noticed my boxwoods do not like get snow with either de-icing method dumped on the. So I just shovel our snow towards the grass and the problem was solved. The grass did not like it either but recovered well every spring.

  27. Karen Valenti

    We have a Christmas wreath hanging over one side of our garage. My husband took one on the right side down and discovered a bird’s nest on the other side. Needless to say, the wreath is still there!

  28. kari

    We had robins build a nest on the transom molding above the front door at our weekend home for years. It was such a pain as I hated disturbing them every time we went in and out so we had to remember to use the side door. But it was a thrill to see the babies hatch and feed. You feel so proud when they finally “fly the coop”. I’ve actually witnessed that a few times. Once empty, we move the nest and are good until the next year. If you leave it, they might lay another batch!

  29. Carol P.

    We had a mama mourning dove build a nest in a flower pot by our front door. I was delighted! Two little eggs. They hatched, but sadly a neighborhood cat found them and that was the end of that 🙁 Even destroyedthe pot knocking it to the ground. Made me sad. Your little nest looks like a safer place.

  30. Susan

    We have a nest on our porch also in the boxwood that I planted in my urns. They are very small brownish, there are 4. Luckily we don’t use our front door. Can’t wait to see them….

  31. Dawn Davis

    We just had a Cardinal nest fall from one of our very large trees in our front yard. 2 died as they were attacked by the neighborhood cat once on the ground, but 1 survived. We picked the nest up, wearing gloves and put the 3rd baby back in the nest. The mama and male were hovering over to see where we placed the nest and already had a worm ready for the baby that was left. We’ve had horrible storms the past week in a North Texas so I’m surprised we haven’t seen more nests on the ground. Hopefully, this baby will survive. 😀

  32. Addie

    One year I was jumping for joy when I noticed a bird built a nest in the wreath on our front door. I could not wait for the eggs to hatch. We ONLY used the back door. Then one morning I heard a ton of chirping and singing!!! There was a telephone line out by the street and I got to witness the truly MOST amazing thing. Papa bird was singing his heart out at the top of his lungs and running back and forth on the wire. He was actually greeting other birds and flying back and forth to the front door. I felt he saying, “I’ve got me a son! I do I do indeed!!” Of course mama was doing all the work!!!
    It was very joyous. Things were going along great and we could witness the whole thing from the window on the other side of the door. The birds were just getting old enough to soon be leaving the nest when……one night I heard a neighborhood cat slam against the door. Mama was dead and 4 babies were stolen. One last baby was screaming on the porch. The human society said to put the baby back in the nest so dad could come back. About 2 hours later the cat came back. It was terrible!!! We had so much interest, joy, happiness and sadness it was really too much. We took the wreath down and never put up another. Oh, and yes, it was very messy and dirty….we had to repaint the door.
    Good luck to you!!!!

  33. Wendy Johnson

    Last year birds built a nest in the 1/2 inch door jam above my front door. I used my back door. This year they tried to start on my rolled up awning but I caught them in time. Good luck with your babies. Mine weren’t terribly messy and didn’t stay long.

  34. Mary in VA

    Birds seem to like door wreaths for nesting. There’s a small nest on mine, but I think the parents have abandoned it. Keep us posted on the new babies when they arrive.

  35. Nancy

    Birds used to roost on the trim above my front door and window. Lots of mess on both. Hub put metal strips above each so the birds had no place to land. It’s barely noticeable and haven’t a bird roost there since. Like Wendy, I have awnings in the back, used to be Roman shade type made of dropcloth, and they’d nest there, but we used it too much for the nests to last. We now have the roll-up Coolaroo shades. Just put up so haven’t noticed birds paying attention. Maybe they won’t. So far, they’re nest in some of my plants, which is perfectly fine with me. Happy spring to all of you!

  36. Joanne Boulter

    The picked your door because of the sweet feeling she felt surrounding your home. She picked a special home for her nursery.

  37. Mary M

    Actually a few years ago we had a nest on the arm of the garage door light under the eaves. All went well and I have to say it was fascinating to watch them and then they were gone. So my husband
    took down the nest. Guess what? They came back the following year and probably mad as hornets
    and rebuilt the nest. So last year they were back to a undisturbed nest. So here’s hoping that they
    will be back soon. NH had a nasty winter and a very wet spring. Actually today it is really nice out and
    I hope it lasts. Someone told me that my little bird family are Phoebies.

  38. Nancy Zink

    I loved your birdie tale. Hope the little family does well! Sorry about you losing your boxwoods though. I’ve worked in the landscape industry and we have a great tip for helping plants get established. Mycorhizzae inoculant powder added to the hole before you insert the plant. Studies show stronger, healthier roots and more lush top-growth. Order online or ask at your garden center. And good luck!

  39. Kizzy

    That is so sweet having a nest in your wreath. We had a bird build her nest on top of a wood post that we’d taken down when the fence was redone. It was just leaning up against the back of the house next to the back door. The kids loved seeing the eggs hatch and the baby birds fly away. Hope we can see an update once they’ve hatched.

  40. Maureen

    We also had a house finch make a nest in our spring floral wreath on our front porch door. We enjoyed the baby birds and all went well for them.. I scrubbed and repainted the door. The next year they came back and so I took the wreath down. They returned for 5 years trying to make nests in light fixtures. Last year they did not come and poop all over my porch furniture! Yeah! This year I put up a skimpy twiggy wrieath and they have not returned. I like the birds to be out in the garden not too close to my house. Once a robin got in and we chased it all over the house, who knew a bird could poop so much! We finally got it out but I had to was all my furniture! My advice is to try to move the wreath and the nest together, a few inches at a time, move it a foot every day, until they are away from your front door. Use some 3M Command hooks.

  41. Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran

    I’m pretty sure what you have is a nest of Phoebes. They’re wonderful, and very fun to watch – they catch flying insects and will fly about in the same pattern as the moths that they’re catching. The mama, if it’s a Phoebe, will be grayish with a white belly. They tend to build nests in protected areas like your wreath, and their eggs are white and speckled.

    BTW, welcome to Minnesota and Rochester! We moved here 13 years ago, and very much enjoy it.

  42. Kris

    I’m not sure what type of eggs these are, but I’m guessing they are a type of finch. We have house finches which nest on my front wreath every year. I live in Michigan, and our winter season is probably similar in length to yours. A few thoughts–finches tend to re-use the same nest 2-3 times a year, so after your birdie babies fly away, change out your wreath asap or you may find yourself with a Christmas wreath in July (and multiple sets of babies) due to re-nesting. Also, in the future, take down your winter wreath mid-March . Lastly–enjoy! Yes, they make a poopy mess, but it’s fun and your boys will love it.

  43. Jill Miglin

    We had that happen with a wreath, that was between two front windows, a few years back. Ours were finches, but wrens will also nest like that. We had wrens nest in one of the supports on our above ground pool a couple of years ago. If it is possible, it would be good to avoid using that door until the little ones fledge. We are avid bird watchers and always try to give as much leeway as we can.

  44. Patricia

    I’m a Minnesotan, who for the time being, is stuck in another state. I miss the snow and the bitter cold. Growing up that way, it’s just something I’m used to.
    In regards to your plants, my Dad always put styrofoam ‘buckets’ over the rose bushes and other small shrubs to protect them from the Minnesota Winters…we never lost a one, so maybe something to consider.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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