Thursday, June 18, 2009

I have outsmarted a pair of mourning doves. Yay me.

Last summer, we had hanging pots of flowers on the porch that opens off our bedroom. I overestimated how much sun would hit them, and they didn't do very well. After they all died, I just left the pots there because I wanted to use them again this year, but had nowhere else to store them. This spring, a couple of mourning dove decided one of the pots would be a great place to build a nest and hatch a pair of offspring. We thought this was adorable, and Dano enjoyed looking at the birds out our window every morning, especially after the babies hatched. We didn't mind them being there, because it was too cold out for us to plant flowers in the pots anyway.

So the baby doves hatched and grew and flew away with their parents. Yay!

A few days later, the mommy and daddy birds were back. Before we managed to put any flowers in those pots, they laid another pair of eggs. We sighed. We rolled our eyes. We resigned ourselves to another month of not being able to use our porch, for fear of disturbing them. Eventually, I planted impatiens and begonias in the four pots they weren't nesting in, and reserved enough flowers for "their" pot so I could plant them as soon as they vacated.

(We actually don't know that this is the same pair, but they seemed very focused on using the same pot again, so we assume they are. But according to Wikipedia, mourning doves can hatch up to 6 clutches of eggs a year.)

All went well -- both babies hatched, ate a great deal of regurgitated whatever, and eventually flew away. After we saw no birds for 24 hours, we assumed they'd moved on, and I planted the reserved flowers in the hanging pot.

Yesterday morning, they were back. Trying to nest in that pot again. Smooshing down my flowers. Cowboy went out and shooed them away several times while he was getting dressed, and left me to defend the fort when he went to work. I spent two hours running out onto the porch every five minutes or so to clap my hands and yell and wave plastic bags to scare away the birds. They kept coming back. And they began to build another nest. I threw away the twigs they brought, and they just came back with more.

I thought about making a scarecrow. I considered wrapping all the plants in plastic wrap until they got bored and left. I thought about playing loud music on the porch.

And then I realized there was a very simple solution: no hanging flower pots, no nesting spot. I brought in the pots and put them in the pantry, which has lots of light, as well as a baby gate that keeps a certain little mister out.

The birds were extremely confused. They spent several hours perching on the porch railing, craning their necks around to look for the missing flower pots. Periodically, one or the other would fly up a couple feet, to where the pots formerly had been, and flutter around. Maybe they thought the pots had just turned invisible or something. At any rate, by noon, they gave up. We haven't seen them since.

So yes, yours truly has outwitted a couple of bird brains. Aren't you proud of me?

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