DEAR JOAN: I have this lovely mourning dove that has built a nest on the wreath on my front porch.
I try not to go out the door unless I absolutely have to. I’m sure she will have babies, but I have no idea how long that takes and how long they will be there before the babies are ready to fly.
I would appreciate any info you could give me.
Pat Eich, Walnut Creek
DEAR PAT: The beautiful items we find to festoon our front doors can be too great a temptation for some birds.
Mourning doves generally lay two eggs, and once they start sitting on them, it takes about 14 days for the squabs to hatch. The squabs then will spend 12 to 15 days in the nest, so all in all, you’re looking at around a month.
Now here’s the bad news — for easy access through your front door, that is. Mourning doves can have up to six broods a season, and if they like where the nest is located, they often return once the babies have fledged and immediately start another family.
Once you’re sure the nest is empty, you’ll need to quickly take down your wreath to avoid another month of not using your door, which, by the way, thank you for being considerate to the doves.
DEAR JOAN: We have a tall Italian cypress in our yard that the raccoons are using and making quite a racket and mess. They can be heard and seen bickering with each other in the tree and may be even fighting during early evening hours.
Our redwood tree seems to be a popular spot for raccoon pooping. Any suggestions that might discourage these raccoons?
Rick Costanzo, Campbell
DEAR RICK: That might not be fighting you’re hearing, but let’s just move on, shall we?
If your tree is freestanding with nothing nearby, you might be able to stop the raccoons from climbing in it by wrapping some metal flashing around the trunk. To make the collar for the tree, measure its girth and add 3 inches — you don’t want the collar to fit so tightly that you harm the tree. The metal should be 36 inches high. Install the collar on the tree 4 feet from the ground.
The smoothness of the metal will prevent the raccoons from climbing, and by putting it up high, they won’t be able to jump over the barrier and continue their climb. If you have trees nearby, you’ll need to wrap their trunks, too.
Perhaps the best way to stop the raccoons from using the redwood as a latrine is to invest in a particular device that is designed to scare animals away. There are many brands on the market and they all operate on the same principle. They have red glowing or flashing lights that, to the animal you’re trying to scare off, appear to be the eyes of a predator.
The devices are rather inexpensive (most are $25 or less) and combined with other efforts, such as the tree collar and removing food and water attractions, they should help keep raccoons and other bothersome animals out of your yard. Readers, if you’ve tried them, let me know how they’ve worked for you.
Before doing anything, however, make sure the raccoons don’t have youngsters in the tree. If they do, you’ll need to wait until they are old enough to leave the tree on their own.
What to expect when a mourning dove is expecting on your door wreath