DEAR JOAN: I was wondering if you might know what is happening with one or perhaps two blue jay-ish looking birds at our house for the past week or so. The bird hangs on any and all of our south-facing windows near the top and pecks repeatedly.
The windows are clean and there are no cobwebs, leaves or stuff attached. This continues all day, every day.
This has never happened in our 16 years here. If we yell at it, it simply flies to a close tree (just coming into leaf) and returns to the window again. We do not know how to stop this, as it is very annoying.
Do you have an explanation and suggestion for getting it away? Is he in love with himself?
DEAR SUSAN: I don't know why you haven't had this issue in the past 16 years, but you've got it now, and I can see how it would be extremely annoying.
It's hard to know exactly what goes on in the brains of creatures, but I suspect your bird -- a scrub jay -- is trying to say "Back off."
Mr. Jay likely has a mate sitting on a nest in a nearby tree, and he is seeing his own reflection in your windows. Rather than recognizing his handsome self, he thinks it's another jay and he is trying to get him to go away. In short, the jay is protecting the nest and the eggs inside.
After the eggs have hatched and the young ones gone, the pecking will likely stop. You could add some decals to the windows or a film to make it less reflective, but I think you troubles will soon be over.
Dear Joan: I live on the water in Discovery Bay. Raccoons have been here for years; they move freely and undetected up and down our levees, staying under our backyard decks. One night I saw four raccoons under my deck at one time.
Recently they have become more adventurous and started playing on top of my deck and have invaded my attic. As you can imagine this concerns me on many levels. I have an old lab that uses a dog door.
I hired professionals to humanely trap and relocate. They captured two raccoons in as little as seven days and sealed up the entrances.
I know there are many more as they move up and down our levees, but I do not have the money to continue trapping raccoons professionally. Other than doing this myself, what other options do I have? I would like to get my neighbors involved but I need to know my options other than professional removal.
DEAR ALLEN: I don't like the trapping approach as it usually means the death of the animals. State law does not permit trapping and relocation. Instead, the animals must be released where they were trapped, or killed.
I know raccoons can carry diseases and cause problems, but if at all possible, I adhere to the live and let live philosophy. Like you, however, I wouldn't want them in my attic.
To avoid these issues, you have to be proactive. Seal off places raccoons might find appealing, first checking that you aren't sealing something inside.
Next, remove anything the raccoons might like to eat, such as pet food, and make sure the garbage cans are closed up tight. Bungee cords work great for that.
If you know where the raccoons have been hanging out, use a deterrent, such as Critter Ridder, as a backup.
Then, ask all of your neighbors to do the same. Creatures are drawn close to humans because they know they'll find food and shelter. If they can't, they move somewhere they can.
In theory, anyway.
Contact Joan Morris at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.