Advice on nest removal

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Ezekiell
Ezekiell's picture
Advice on nest removal

Hi everyone. Over spring we had a pair of spotted doves nest in the crook of our cheese plant. The young are now grown and have left the nest, although we still see the family around as they are local and along with the natives make use of our birdbath.

Im wondering if its safe for me to now remove the nest. I dont want to remove if the doves reuse their nests for breeding at a later date. Internet research on breeding and nesting for this species is less than helpful on this topic.

Many thanks!

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Spotted doves are feral introduced species to our country. I would encourage you to remove the nest before they nest again. I am unsure whether they reuse the nest or not, but breeding of feral species, which compete with our natives should be actively discouraged. Appreciate your sentiment to allow the brood to fledge and move on, but preventing further nesting may encourage more native species to your area.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Woko
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Ezekiell, these are wise words from Dale. I really encourage you to take them to heart as our native birds are under threat from many directions, one of which is competition from introduced species such as the Spotted Dove.

major myna
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I would leave the nest be until you are sure the birds are not coming back, give it a week or so. These are gentle, harmless birds that get along well with all the others, so why on earth would anyone suggest they are feral?

how can a wild animal be 'feral' anyway? talk about an overreaction. Spotted doves are not responsible for the precarious condition of our native birds folks

Lightuningbird
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I would share my opinion, but I don’t want to start an argument.

Wimmera mally region, Vic.

Ezekiell
Ezekiell's picture

Thank you for all the advice.

Dale and Woko, I understand that the doves are an introduced species and should generally be discouraged. And I do actively discourage the doves and myna's in my area from visiting as much as I can, however I can't and won't stop them from dropping by to conduct general activities of living such as drinking from the birdbath, eating random food (ie worms, left over seeds from gardening) from the grass, or growing up from eggs that have been laid.

I appreciate the comment that if I discourage the birds from breeding then I wold likely get more natives in my garden. Whilst that may be true, I live in an urban environment where insectivorous and nectivourous natives simply can't compete with the more versatile species including the intriduced species. I also rent, so although I have a large potted garden with many native plants to cater for our native birdlife I can't eliminate or damage the plants that came with the house that birds such as the doves will and do nest in.

Neither would I want to, as the doves are an integral part of the ecosystem in my area compensating for the niches the natives who can't live here because of the urban environment would usually exploit. I have carefully observed the bird life in my backyard and nearby area and can say that the native wildlife far outweighs the introduced species.

The visitors I get include; 1 small family of spotted doves, multiple ravens, multiple lorikeets, multiple crows, a flock of local pink galahs, wild ducks from the nearby marshland, 1 extended family of blue fairy wrens, multiple magpies, sulfer crested cockatoos, 1 local flock of noisy myna's, 1 gang of 5 indian myna's, multiple families of blackbirds, 1 family of topknot doves, 1 extended family of wagtails. All these birds know me personally and watch me garden - the birds line up for the bath when I've cleaned it, the wrens clean up the insects disturbed from mowing the grass, and the other birds forage amongst my pot garden or take shelter under the plant shade during storms.

I have observed the indian myna's and spotted doves to repeatedly come off worse in territory or food fights with the natives, to the extent that 1 juvenile spotted dove was killed right after fledging and 2 indian myna's were killed in an arial battle with a magpie (the garden was covered in feathers that day).

So from what I can see, my area is thriving with natives and the introduced species are only a very small role in the ecosystem. The main problem I've seen the natives come up against is the local feral and pet cats, which I discourage from my yard with plants they hate!

I will continue to observe the nest to ensure the remaining fleged dove has stopped using it as a safety base and then remove. If they decide to nest again, depending on the state of my ecosystem I may discourage or I may let nature take it's course - with the full knowledge that my local native birds are completely out-competing the introduced species!

I'm not going to needlessly prevent life, kill unhatched eggs, or risk the health of a bird carrying eggs which is subsequently urgently building a nest.

major myna
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Wow. that's an awesome selection of birds you have gathered there Ezekiell, well done. i live on the edge of bushland in Sydney's northwest, and i oncehad a range of visitors a little like that too, they used to come around all day. But now all I get is a few unruly cockatoos and maybe a couple of galahs and corellas, once or twice a day, at morning and night. Throughout the day we might see a small family of wonga pigeons and a few doves of different types drinking water and scrounging for leftover seed. But otherwise the place is sadly empty for most of the day, no rosellas in the trees, no more bunches of fairy wrens flitting around from branch to branch to water bowl, no more family of magpies leading their young around, no more Indian mynas marching across the yard like they own the place. its like a bird ghost town out there.

and believe me I chase off every cat and dog i catch hanging or stalking around out there. I have a zero tolerance policy for free roaming pets

Lord knows how the wongas have lasted out there all these years. They are the only real long term survivors among my bird visitors over the last twenty years or so.

major myna
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forgot to mention the kookaburras. I still get a few kookaburra visitors come evening, a couple of them long term visitors who have been coming around for ages, though overall numbers are a little down. They also fight more among themselves now, and some birds try to stop others from taking food from me. Its funny.

also still hear, though rarely see, a couple of powerful owls out there at night, and maybe a few flying foxes gathered high up in the trees. There was also a koel that was hanging around for a while, didnt seem to have any luck though. pretty slim pickings all around sadly.

Woko
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Hi Ezekiell.

I very much appreciate your understanding of the need to discourage Spotted Turtle Doves. And I appreciate how difficult it is to stop them from "dropping by to conduct general activities". You would need to be constantly on guard & I suspect there are more productive things you could do with your time to encourage native birds.

One of the main reasons native birds find it difficult, if not impossible, to compete with introduced birds is because the natural habitats of native birds have been destroyed by folk who prefer introduced plants to the original native vegetation or who value the increased expansion of human habitats.

Being a renter certainly limits what you can achieve with native vegetation although I suspect many landlords/ladies haven't been approached yet by renters about the value of planting a few local native plants.

The ecology you describe certainly advantages introduced bird species, hence the need to restore original ecologies if we are to perserve our native birds. And I seriously doubt you would "needlessly" destroy any Spotted Turtle Dove nests. In fact, I'd suggest you would be doing our native doves & pigeons a favour, however small, be discouraging a competitor.

Major mynah, do you have any thoughts on why it's "like a bird ghost town" where you live? This must surely be an interesting phenomenon since you live on the edge of bushland which, I presume, is native bushland.

While I agree with you that Spotted Turtle Doves are gentle birds I suggest they're not harmless since they successfully compete with native doves aided, I would think, by lack of natural habitat. Of course, the Spotted Turtle Doves are not totally responsible for the "precarious condition" of our native birds. But they are a factor as are all the other native birds which have been introduced into Australia.

Ezekiell
Ezekiell's picture

Woko, you are preaching to the converted. In general I would agree that it would be great for renters to approach landlords about planting natives in their gardens. Unfortunately, without getting into the drama we experience on a regular basis with our landlord, our landlord has explicitly told us that under no circumstances are we to change any aspect of the property including the garden. Hence the giant cheeseplant, unknown european shrub tree, and mexican palms are here to stay thereby ceating perfect nest spots for the doves.

As for the impact of indian myna’s on the “precarious nature” of our native birdlife, I wish to point out that research into the impact of these birds on natives in urban habitats in particular is precarious itself at best. I refer to this article by the RSPCA: https://kb.rspca.org.au/what-should-be-done-about-common-(indian)-myna-birds_140.html, and this 2011 research article conducted in the greater Sydney region http://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/43491/Common_mynas_2011.pdf. Considering this evidence I wouldnt consider it a stretch to also conclude that prejudice surrounding the doves is also based on human annoyance rather than actual data.

I personally will consider evidence above all else. I see no evidence that actively excluding and acting prejudiciously towards the doves or myna’s would do any significant impact in my local urban environment other than control species population. To that extent, I believe I am doing that successfully already and I can see no competition for food or nesting resources between the doves/myna’s or the plethora of natives that incorporate my garden into their territory or use it as a rest stop on their journey between territories (ie galahs, cockatoos, marsh ducks, etc). 

I think Woko is right in saying the main problem is lack of suitable native habitat particularly in urban environments and I would go further by saying that human activity in general (ie influencing climate) is the most significant contributer to all the problems impacting wildlife. I would posit, however, that short of razing the city of Sydney to the ground to start over, those problems are unlikely to be solved. I would also posit that changing the system is not my problem, the problem of providing a small patch of territory suitable for myself, native birds, and any other wildlife, whilst also conserving local biodiversity in all forms is.

major myna
major myna's picture

I should have added that i have always had a few spotted doves among my bird visitors, and still do have a couple now and then, and they have always been happy to settle for whatever seed the other birds leave behind, rather than competing directly with the more aggressive natives for a feed. So i am not inclined to view them in a negative light despite the bad press, especially since they are among the few birds i still see with any regularity.

Woko: your guess is as good as mine. Yes it is native bushland, national parkland i believe, with some semi-friendly wallabies young and old, and an occasional glimpse of an echidna or bandicoot going about its business day or night was not unknown in days past.

i think we can all identify the basic culprits however: feral cats, and any free roaming cats, mainly. encroaching development, lack of rain, and even loose dogs running about the bush and barking at all hours, creating a racket that scares off birds.

i have seen neighbours cats wreck small birds nests killing the guardian and sending panicking chicks scattering, as well as slaughtering rosellas and sending feathers flying everywhere. God only knows what they are doing on a larger scale all the time. And yet we put all this blame on some gentle little doves and a few comical little mynas! Come on!

Woko
Woko's picture

Ezekiell, I think we're on the same page (not to mention singing from the same hymn sheet) in relation to replacement of destroyed natural habitats by introduced ecologies. Whether someone spends time & energy on discouraging introduced birds by wrecking their nests or trapping them might depend on the individual circumstances. Some folk might find it more productive to lobby their local council for restoration of natural habitats in parklands.

The latter is implied, I believe, in the two interesting references on Indian Mynahs you provided. It seems more helpful for our native birds if we use an integrated approach of restoration of natural habitats, reducing rubbish which Indian Mynahs use for nest building, control of nesting places as well as eradication through trapping - not to mention acting on climate change. As you indicate, without natural habitat restoration in habitat-decimated areas we're simply controlling numbers of Indian Mynahs.

Major myna, I'm wondering if what you've observed in relation to the lack of native birds near national parkland needs to be discussed with someone from your state government environment department. Even a garden with mostly introduced plants might expect an occasional visit from more native birds than you're reporting. I'm wondering what's happening to native bird populations within the national parkland & whether authorities need to be looking into this. The implications could be huge.

I'm with you on cats which, I believe, are having a huge impact on native wildlife. Money is being spent on eradication measures but, unfortunately, we have an extremely strong pro-cat culture. Some months ago I wrote to the head honcho of the Australian pet food industry suggesting that cat food packaging includes a label informing people of the risks to wildlife of uncontrolled cats. I've had no response so far but that's another indication, I suggest, of the value placed on wildlife in Australia generally.

major myna
major myna's picture

Well the local council is supposed to be implementing a feral cat program in local bushland but it's all a case of too little too late i reckon. and i'd personally prefer to deal with one of these ferals face to face than waste my afternoon being ignored by some public servant who doesnt give a rats. But if my experience is anything to go by, with no sign of the rosellas and the wagtails or even magpies and so on, and me filling up my five or six water dishes on the daily, then maybe there is something crook in the bush on a bigger scale

believe me, its the cats. Even if you really think that the introduced bird and plant species are the devil (and i certainly do not, and would not dream of supporting any efforts to wreck the spotted doves or even the mynas nests- a shameful busines if you ask me) you are still only pretending to deal with the problem by picking on a few doves and so on while peoples cats and dogs are allowed to run rampant and kill what they like at all hours, and im not even talking about the ferals.

i believe ive made my position on the doves and mynas and the like clear enough, but ill say it again. I look outside and the wonga wongas and the doves are happily roaming side by side scrounging for seed. It doesnt matter to me if one of them is 'native' and the other isnt, it matters that they can coexist and survive and thrive out there in an incrieasingly inhospitable emvironment. The same with the mynas, all that nonsense about them being evil critters devastating our wildlife. Sure they might be a bit rough, but its nothing our birds couldnt handle, unlike a giant cat pouncing on them out of the blue! And people talk about them taking over nests and suchlike, well how about our bulldozers and chainsaws wiping out their nests en masse across the cou try.

as long as these things are going on and folk turn a blind eye to it all, then its clear to me what picking on the doves and mynas really is. Scapegoating, and a form of bullying as well, putting all the blame on anything t ourselves for the mess weve made of things.

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