Q: Our area recently received a lot of ice and snow. Some of our trees were bent over during the storm but seem to be recovering after most of the ice and snow melted off. My problem is that some larger trees have broken or cracked limbs. They are in the backyard and have provided us with a lot of shade, and I don't want to lose them. How soon should I have them pruned? Could they be damaged more by being cut while they are frozen?
A: You should have your trees looked at as soon as possible by a licensed arborist. It is the duty of property owners to maintain their whole property in a hazard-free condition, which includes trees. Ice damage may not be completely noticeable from the ground. An arborist can determine if the trees need to be inspected by climbing or using a bucket truck. Remember, proper pruning of mature trees never involves topping or leaving large stubs.
If they need to be pruned for safety or tree health, they can be cut at any time it is safe for people to do the work. Anywhere in the country, dormant pruning has several advantages for most trees, even those without storm damage. The whole structure can be seen without any leaves blocking the view. There is less organic material to dispose of because there are no leaves on deciduous trees. The new growth in the spring will be going into healthy branches and not branches that would be cut off later in the spring or summer. Dormant pruning attracts fewer insect and disease problems, too. A few tree species, such as some maples, will bleed a lot of sap in the spring that may make the tree unsightly for a while, but it is not harmful to the tree.
Q: I have fed birds in my backyard for years, and I enjoy it so much. There are a lot of different types of birds coming to the feeders. Starting last year, pigeons began showing up. It started with just a few of them, but now they are all over the feeders and the ground under the feeders. I counted 50 one time last week. Do you have any solutions to this problem? I live in Southern California, at the foot of the mountains. Thank you, for any input you can give.
A: I assume by pigeon you mean the common bird found in city parks that struts around begging for handouts. Ornithologists used to call it the rock dove, but they changed the name to rock pigeon a while back. Meanwhile, we all will keep calling them pigeons and a few other not-so-nice names. They can be glutinous at times, and especially so if they are in a large flock. They are somewhat limited by how small of a feeding perch on which they can feed. I know that you are getting a wider variety of birds to your yard because of your variety of feeders, but you will have to modify that for a while.
For a little while, maybe two weeks or more, you will have to reduce the styles of feeders down to those that the pigeons can't use. You will have to sweep up any seeds that fall out or use feeders that have small trays in order to keep seeds from falling to the ground and the pigeons from using them as a perch. Some feeders have a perch that is adjustable for bird weight to keep out the larger birds. Some feeders have a cage around the feeding stations that small birds can get through and prevent larger birds from feeding. Don't use large trays or let any food fall to the ground.
Pigeons will eat just about any type of birdseed. They like large seeds like corn. You could try limiting the seeds to just nyjer seed, and maybe a finch mix of very small seeds.
After a few weeks of not getting any food, the pigeons will stop coming. They will keep track of your feeders. And when you consistently put out large seeds or put seeds on the ground that they can reach, they will return, so you may have to repeat the process occasionally.
Email questions to Jeff Rugg at [email protected] To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.