The birds build a flimsy nest atop the San Jose Ladder
DEAR JOAN: I have an 8 foot ladder leaning against a sheltered corner of my deck. A pigeon I think made a nest on it about a week ago, then two days ago the bird I guess started to dismantle the nest.
Today I climbed a shorter ladder to see. The nest is completely dismantled. There’s nothing left 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 that when the eggs hatch the chicks won’t fall out, or will the bowl force mom to abandon the nest? I also put a small dish of water near there.
Ray A., San Jose
DEAR RAY: Set “normal”. For a robin, let’s say, no, that’s not normal. For a pigeon or a mourning dove, this is completely normal..
Mourning doves and pigeons are the worst nest builders in the world. They are some of the best parents, but they seem to have skipped the class where nest building was taught. They have a long history of building flimsy nests in inappropriate places, such as ladders, fences, car hoods.
Sometimes they succeed, but most of the time they don’t. However, you will rarely find more devoted bird parents. The male and female take turns sitting on the eggs, and if they succeed in incubating them, both birds work hard to feed and care for their small clutch.
The nest, as it was, may have been broken up by other birds in search of easy nesting material, but it is more likely that some material flew away.
If you can gather some grass clippings or straw in a shallow bowl or container and move the eggs around without disturbing too much, you may be able to save the brood. Keep the bowl in the same place as the original nest, but make sure it’s stable and won’t tip over.
Move the water bowl away from the nest. You don’t want to attract other birds to the immediate area.
DEAR JOAN: This month, for the first time, ground squirrels are digging and tunneling through a narrow strip of dirt between two large areas of concrete.
They push dirt and rocks onto our driveway and eat tender shoots of new tomato and bean plants. The neighbor is using new ultrasonic devices to eliminate the gophers, which I think caused the pests to leave his garden and come here.
No suggestions? Trapping? Smoke bombs?
TC, Los Gatos
DEAR TC: Have you thought about moving?
I’ve had a lot of experience with ground squirrels, and they’re extremely difficult to control. Forget booby traps, smoke bombs and electronic gadgets – none of that works. Your neighbor’s appliances are probably not responsible for driving squirrels into your yard, but if you suspect they are, buy more appliances than he has and fire the squirrels.
Exclusion is the only reliable answer to keep gophers away. Invest in fences that go 2 feet below the ground to prevent them from burrowing into your garden. Then run a shock wire around the top of the fence to keep them from climbing.
It’s the only way. They are tenacious.
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