“With reference to the comment by Barkha on 26th December that he hopes Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) will again nest on his balcony LINK, my opinion is that if you want birds to stay around your premises and perhaps raise a family, you should feed them.
“Most birds are territorial, but when food is plentiful, many bird territories are actually quite small, perhaps no larger than a suburban garden.
“Therefore, to ensure a dense population of birds in your area, there must be enough food to feed their families.
“My garden, and that of my nature-loving neighbour, are both heavily planted with things that birds eat. We have Ficus, Melastoma, Duranta, Murraya, Thallia, Sapodilla, Musa and other vegetation that attract birds.
“In addition, I provide about 1 kilogram of birdseed and 500 grams of chicken feed every day.
“On our premises we have breeding pairs of Yellow Vented Bulbuls, White Breasted Waterhens, Olive-backed Sunbirds and Javan Mynahs. Spotted Doves, Rose-Breasted Parakeets, Striated Weavers, White-throated Kingfishers and Glossy Starlings breed in the immediate vicinity. We get frequent visits from parent birds escorting juveniles.
“You will be surprised at the density of the bird population that such a regime can support. This is the daily Spotted Dove buffet in my garden (below). There is always lots of courting activity, and the frequent appearance of new juveniles, which are usually at the fringe of the group and only move in after the adult birds have finished their meals.
“The provision of food must be consistent, regular, and for a sufficiently long duration to allow pairs of birds to perform courtship and raise a brood of young.
“My friend, who adheres to a similar regime, recently witnessed the successful raising of a brood of Southern Pied Hornbills in his house. I reported this event here on the BESG website last week LINK.
“Now, specifically on breeding Spotted Doves, it is well known that pigeons and doves are notoriously sloppy nest builders, both under natural and aviary conditions. A significant proportion of eggs and/or young are lost due to substandard construction. However, since they are quite prolific, sufficient survive to sustain the population.
“As our good webmaster has said, each pair can be different, and it is difficult to make generalisations. But from my experience, except for the sake of hygiene, it may not be necessary to remove soiled, nesting material. Some doves I know build right over old nests.
“The jury is still out on this question, but some aviculturalists believe that leaving an old nest undisturbed gives parent birds a sense of security, and encourages them to build again on the same site.”
Lee Chiu San
27th December 2014