DR. JOAN: For the second year in a row, a pair of mourning doves named Miles and Mona have made their home just outside our front door. They had six squabs this year, two each time.
Is that a high number of births for a single season? And how long will we be able to see our feathered friends, whom we have grown quite fond of?
Los Gatos resident Larry Gerston
DEAR LARRY: Miles and Mona appear to have found the ideal roosting spot and gracious hosts.
Mourning doves usually lay two eggs at a time and can have up to six broods at a time. The doves are poor nest builders, but they are excellent parents, taking turns on the nest and sharing feeding duties once the eggs hatch.
Mourning doves breed in large numbers for a reason. They are the most hunted birds in North America, with approximately 20 million killed each year.
The birds’ average lifespan is two to four years, but the lucky ones can live for ten to fifteen years or even longer. A hunter killed the oldest known mourning dove when he was 30 years old.
DR. JOAN: I have a critter in my backyard that comes out at night to dig holes in my lawn, which I believe is for grubs. I think it’s a raccoon or an opossum, but I’m not sure.
Is there anything I can do or use to prevent this? He – or they – are destroying my lawn.
— Linda from San Jose
TO LINDA: I’m starting to get a lot of questions about raccoons digging up lawns, which is understandable given that lawns can be teeming with tasty grubs from late summer to fall, and again in the spring.
To combat raccoon invasions, you can use chemical deterrents, cover your lawn with netting, install motion-activated lights and sprinklers, and leave a radio tuned to an all-night talk show playing softly near the lawn. Some of these work, but the majority require a significant amount of time and money to implement and provide only temporary relief.
Your efforts might be better directed toward the grubs rather than the raccoons. Raccoons have no reason to dig in your lawn if there are no grubs. The use of beneficial nematodes is the most environmentally friendly solution. You can buy them online or at your local home improvement store or nursery.
You should also consider your lawn care. Overwatering and evening watering can both encourage grubs in your lawn.
Krane Pond update
More good news from Seth and Ted at Save Mount Diablo this week. The fundraising campaign to save Krane Pond, which began in this column in late September, has raised $41,816 through 197 reader donations.
The organization is attempting to raise $500,000 in order to permanently protect the pond, which is one of the largest on the mountain and an important source of water for wildlife. Save Mount Diablo has raised $349,000 so far, accounting for 70% of its goal. The group has until Oct. 26 to exercise its option and complete the purchase by Christmas.
Donations can be sent to Save Mount Diablo at 201 N. Civic Drive, Suite 190, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, or online at https://savemountdiablo.org/donate. Please specify that your donation is for Krane Pond.