Dove nest in planter, how to explain to gardeners? Help pls

In a university campus I have found a Spotted Dove nest (hatchlings seen) almost at the edge of a long-shaped planter under cover. See photos attached.

Because the planter is sheltered and a bit wide (and possibly a bit tall to reach), the gardeners employed by the university probably water the plants with a hose.

What exactly to tell the gardening team, as to avoiding spraying water on the nest? Ideally if you know the conservation procedure for something like this in a public park (where this could happen), I’d love to know.

The main fear is that I don’t know how bureaucratic or weird the person I would have to talk would be. So I need to know in advance what the concerns are, and not have a hard time explaining (which might make them not care). E.g. can they just douse half of the planter and expect the water to move to the other half of the planter? I don’t know anything about gardening or soil, and I don’t know much about nests.

Thanks! Sorry if I come across as worried


Perhaps, check your local laws about protections for nesting birds. Depending to the location, nesting birds are often protected by law:

USA bird nest statement
Most bird nests are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). This law says: “No person may take (kill), possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such bird except as may be permitted under the terms of a valid permit…” Under the MBTA it is illegal to destroy a nest that has eggs or chicks in it or if there are young birds that are still dependent on the nest for survival. It is also illegal for anyone to keep a nest they take out of a tree or find on the ground unless they have a permit to do so issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

I think your university groundskeepers may be up to speed with local laws, but it is great you are getting involved to point out this particular nest. At some sites, I have seen vulnerable bird’s nests coned off or marked with yellow caution tape and a sign advising people to not disturb the nest.

good luck to you and the little ones…


i don’t think i would start a conversation with the landscape crew by talking about laws. i think i would just them know that a dove is there. gardeners usually appreciate wildlife, too, and will likely take extra effort to take care of the animals, too.

based on the photo, i sort of doubt that the dove there would be in any danger from hoses. the leaves on those plants provide a robust canopy, and that’s likely why the dove chose to settle there. when the squabs leave the nest and start to wander around on the ground, i think that’s the time when maybe i would be a little more worried for them, since if they get startled, they might take a wrong turn over the edge there. but that vulnerable period should be only a few days before they’ve figured out how to fly. so you could keep an eye on the parents feeding the babies, and let the landscape crew know when the babies are wandering around there before they’ve learned to fly. each dove pair should have exactly two babies.

since this is at a university, you could maybe talk to the folks at the biology department, and maybe the staff and students there could help you keep an eye on the situation, too. and the staff there will know how to negotiate with the university bureaucracy, if you need to get help with that.


It would help to know where you are located. Spotted Dove is a species with a very wide range in many countries.

are you just trying to figure out if the bird is vulnerable in the location? based on the architecture, it looks like this is Hong Kong. so a Spotted Dove would be a very common bird there.

I’m trying to figure out if the species is native at the given locality or not. Spotted Dove has very large native and introduced ranges. If in Hong Kong, then it would be native.

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:) maybe it did not come off as intended, although I think I noted that I thought the groundskeepers would be up to speed with local bird protections… and that it was great for the OP to care enough to let them know.

Building maintenance contractors often use drip irrigation on a Timer. I don’t think the gardener is using hose. I’m not sure though. There has to be a tap nearby with the hose if they are using a hose. There is no need to do anything. Just observe the birds. Chicks leave the nest after 3-4 weeks.

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