DEAR JOAN: I have an 8-foot ladder leaning against a sheltered corner of my patio. A pigeon, I think, made a nest on top of it about a week ago and then two days ago, the bird, I guess, started dismantling the nest.
Today, I climbed a shorter ladder, to see. The nest is completely taken apart. Nothing remains up there. No debris, just two eggs.
Is this normal? Should I put a bowl up there and move the eggs into the bowl, so when the eggs hatch, the chicks won’t fall off, or would the bowl cause mama to abandon the nest? I also put a small dish of water near there.
Ray A., San Jose
DEAR RAY: Define “normal.” For a robin, let’s say, no, it’s not normal. For a pigeon or mourning dove, it’s completely normal..
Mourning doves and pigeons are the world’s worst nest builders. They are among the best parents, but they seem to have skipped the class where nest making was taught. They have a long history of building flimsy nests in inappropriate places, such as ladders, fence tops, car hoods.
Sometimes they get it right, but a lot of times they don’t. However, you’ll rarely find more devoted bird parents. Both the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs, and should they successfully incubate them, both birds work hard to feed and care for their small brood.
The nest, such as it was, might have been dismantled by other birds looking for easy nesting materials, but it’s more likely the smattering of materials blew away.
If you can gather some grass clippings or straw in a shallow bowl or container, and relocate the eggs into it without causing too much of a disturbance, then you might be able to save the brood. Keep the bowl in the same location as the original nest, but make sure it’s stable and won’t tip over.
Move the water dish away from the nest. You don’t want to attract other birds to the immediate area.
DEAR JOAN: This month for the first time, we have ground squirrels digging and tunneling in a narrow dirt strip between two large areas of concrete.
They’re pushing up dirt and rocks onto our walkway and eating tender shoots of new tomato and bean plants. The neighbor has been using new ultrasonic gopher-ridder devices, which I suspect have stimulated the pests to leave his yard and come over here.
Any suggestions? Trapping? Smoke bombs?
T.C., Los Gatos
DEAR T.C.: Have you considered moving?
I’ve had a lot of experience with ground squirrels, and they are extremely difficult to control. Forget traps, smoke bombs and electronic gadgets — none of those things work. Your neighbor’s devices likely are not responsible for driving the squirrels into your yard, but if you think they are, then buy more devices than he has and send the squirrels back.
Exclusion is the only reliable answer to keeping ground squirrels out. Invest in fencing that goes 2 feet beneath the ground to stop them from burrowing into your yard. Then run a shock wire around the top of the fence to stop them from climbing over.
It’s the only way. They are tenacious.
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