Did hawk scare mourning doves permanently away from Danville yard?

DEAR JOAN: About two years ago, a pair of mourning doves moved into our yard or close by.

They raised babies and brought them to our backyard birdbath, and every dawn and dusk I could hear their soft cooing — a real delight! They frequented the birdbath usually only at dawn and dusk.

About two weeks ago in the middle of the day, a big hawk — I think it was a red-tail — landed in our yard next to the birdbath, walked around, left and then returned and got a drink out of the birdbath. Needless to say, all the little birds had disappeared, and the doves were not present.

The hawk returned briefly last week. I have not seen or heard the doves since his first visit, and I’m sure they have left because of the hawk. All the other birds have returned to the birdbath.

I really miss hearing them and seeing the dove family. Do you think this is why they disappeared, and do you think they will ever return?

Alice Brydon, Danville

DEAR ALICE: Mourning doves have the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 game bird in the country, so we shouldn’t fault them for being excessively skittish.

We also should remember that all birds migrate. The difference is distance — some travel thousands of miles; others just to better feeding grounds nearby.

While the hawk might have frightened them away, I don’t think it would have kept them from returning. They might be next door or around the block, where they could be finding some good food and accommodations.

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Take heart. When mourning doves successfully raise a family in a certain location, they return to it year after year. If your doves don’t come back in a few days, know that they — or their offspring — will be back next year.

DEAR JOAN: I have a bird feeder hanging on the side of my patio. It attracts a lot of birds and the seed falling to the ground attracts squirrels. Are there feeders that would catch the spilled seed so it won’t attract mice?

Marilyn Evans, Antioch

DEAR MARILYN: There are, and you also can modify your existing feeder by installing a seed catcher — a wide plate that hangs beneath the feeder — to collect the spilled seed.

You also can minimize spillage by investing in premium bird seed that has little, if any, so-called filler seeds, such as millet. Often, the birds pick through the seed looking for the good stuff, tossing out the seeds they don’t care about as much.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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