DEAR JOAN: Help! We have a pond in the backyard with a small waterfall. Recently a very loud frog has moved in and is in the waterfall.
He rarely stops croaking day or night. We cannot see him but he is really loud. Is there anyway way to lure him out, catch him and return him to the creek where he probably came from? The creek is a couple blocks away.
DEAR MIKE: This seems like a simple question to answer, but it's not. California law allows you to "take" certain amphibians year-round -- taking is defined both as killing or even just picking them up. Doing this off your property requires a fishing license.
However, state law also prohibits you from relocating wildlife, so even if you netted the frog, you couldn't legally move him down to the creek.
You basically have two nonlethal options.
The first is to grit your teeth and bare it. Your froggy friend is croaking so loudly and continuously because he's looking for a mate. Once he has one, he will quiet down, although all male frogs do a certain amount of croaking. If you decide to let the frog stay and are worried about baby frogs, you can skim your pond to get rid of the tadpoles, but more on that later.
The more extreme option is to drain your pond, clear away any weeds or tall grass, remove pet food, turn off outdoor lights and generally make your backyard as uninviting to the frog as possible.
Draining the pond could be a huge endeavor, and in addition to wasting water in a drought, you may have other creatures living there. But if you go this route, leave the pond empty for about a week -- maybe longer if we get a lot of rain. The frog will go elsewhere in search of water and amour.
But here's the problem with skimming tadpoles or encouraging the frogs to move on. You need to identify what type of frog you have. Some frogs -- California red-legged frogs, for example -- are under federal protection because of their dwindling numbers. It would be nice to give them a home and you shouldn't get rid of future frogs.
But if you have a bullfrog, skimming tadpoles is OK but you might not want to encourage it to move into another area, like the creek. The nonnative bullfrogs are voracious eaters and are driving out the native frogs.
It's never easy, is it?
DEAR JOAN: We have a male and a female bushtit visiting. We also have a ceramic picture of an old car with a mirror for the back window and a mirror for the spare tire hanging on our garage above a water fountain.
All this week the birds have come to stare, peck, and flutter at their reflections in the two mirrors for hours and hours. Should we take the picture down? Maybe they are considering a site for a nest nearby and don't want intruders.
DEAR ELAINE: As long as they aren't injuring themselves, it's probably OK to leave it up, but as it is mating season, it could prove a distraction.
Studies have shown that almost all birds fail to recognize themselves in mirrors and believe the reflection to be another bird.
I'd take it down or cover the mirrors in the name of love.