Desert homeowners often complain about birds eating their potted plants and flowers. Unfortunately, I have not come up with any way of truly deterring them. Some people try bird nets, pepper spray and spinning reflective objects such as CDs, pinwheels, etc. However, birds seem pretty smart and focused when there is something they want.

The biggest surprise is going out to a pot—and finding nest full of eggs. Often, you will discover your pot has become a quail’s nest. The lucky homeowner often will ask: What should I do?!

The best idea is to keep the pot (if living plants are sharing the pot with the mother quail) slightly moist. When you water, it will scare the mama bird away, but she will come back. Quail and most other birds are very devoted to their offspring. With patience, you will be rewarded with a covey of quails following Mom and Dad until they start to fly.

Hummingbirds will build their nests in high spots, usually under some shade. These golf-ball-size nests are hard to find, but I once had one in a driftwood wind chime that I hung outside my window. The best thing to do for the hummers is give them privacy.

My least-favorite nesting bird is the dove. They seem to think that two sticks will make a nest—so you will find them making messes on ramada rafters, window ledges and outdoor speakers. I try to discourage them from coming by placing wire or chicken-coop fencing in an area in which they may have interest. However, it may be best to simply enjoy all of our feathered friends and let them raise their families.

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the desert’s potted garden expert. She is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at Follow the Potted Desert at Get a free copy of Ten Top Tips to Desert Potted Garden Success by visiting