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Hello!

A few weeks back, a pigeon came to our apartment balcony (5th floor, highest to an open sky) and laid some eggs inside one of our flower pots outside (the pots are empty, so there's nothing inside, making for a great space for a nest). She came back there everyday and after a while the eggs hatched and the two babies grew up healthily. However, after a couple weeks after they hatched, I was greeted by the horrible sight of one of the babies torn to pieces. The other one had survived (alongside the mother) so I tried to use the other pots to shield the area a little but alas the next day the other baby was also torn to shreds, likely by the same predator who came back for more.

I cleaned out the area and didn't see the pigeon again, but after just a couple weeks since the incident I found the pigeon back again having laid another two eggs in another one of the pots (I assume it's the same pigeon, but it could possibly be a separate one, not that it matters much regardless). The eggs still haven't hatched, but I wanted to do something to avoid them from meeting the same fate as before. I'm certain that with a predator having come back before, he'll come back again once the babies are born, but I'm also not sure what I can really do to protect the nest.

My dad suggested to put a net over the balcony, leaving only the space between the bars open (which is where the mother pigeon often flies in from to get to her nest inside the vase), but I'm worried that putting a net might ensnare the mother and seriously harm her, especially if the net is not placed by a professional and attached by us in an awkward manner. Another worry is that while we don't intend to mess with the pot/nest, putting a net around it (despite leaving a space open) might frighten the mother enough to not come back and abandon her eggs.

Any suggestions on what to do? Leaving the nest as is seems to call for another inevitable tragedy, but I also don't want to do anything that might legitimately hurt the pigeon. What's the best option?
 

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Do you know what kind of predator was involved? A rat, cat or maybe a hawk? I think closing up the balcony sounds like the best choice. If you can put a perch in the opening it will be easier for the parents to come and go.
 

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Do you know what kind of predator was involved? A rat, cat or maybe a hawk? I think closing up the balcony sounds like the best choice. If you can put a perch in the opening it will be easier for the parents to come and go.
It definitely had to be a bird since we're on a 5th floor balcony. We believe it was likely a seagull given how many there are around here (no hawks in this city as far as I'm aware), but it was probably a predatory bird. The baby was torn to shreds, not taken away.

That's what we were thinking, but my dad was considering putting a net he bought (anti-cat from what the box says) around the balcony covering the nest, while only leaving the opening through the balcony bars for the mother to slip through (which we've seen her do before). But I'm worried that the net, especially if placed haphazardly by people who aren't professionals, might end up harming the pigeon by getting tangled in it, since that seems a common danger for them. Or possibly the mother even leaving the nest permanently if we build something around it. Is this a good idea or a bad one?
 

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I've once seen a rat ran vertically up a building. Surely if a seagull was involved, it would have flown away with the dead babies. Are there any drainage pipes connecting to your balcony that gives easy access for a rat?

Can you sprinkle some flour around the balcony (especially the areas a rat can get in) and check for tiny footprints in the morning? Can you post a photo of the area?
 

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I've once seen a rat ran vertically up a building. Surely if a seagull was involved, it would have flown away with the dead babies. Are there any drainage pipes connecting to your balcony that gives easy access for a rat?

Can you sprinkle some flour around the balcony (especially the areas a rat can get in) and check for tiny footprints in the morning? Can you post a photo of the area?
I doubt it was a rat, there's no direct access from a pipe or anything, so I'd be shocked if one climbed all the way up to a fifth floor given the way our building's wall is set up. Not to mention I've never seen a rat in these parts before.

Here's a shot of the balcony. It's pretty tight, barely enough space for a person to come out and at the bottom is the empty flower vase where my feathered friend resides with the two eggs.

https://i.imgur.com/y1MGkcc.png

My dad was thinking of covering that area of the balcony with a cat net, to completely cover the base so the only way to get in would be through the bars (which the pigeon is capable of crossing). Something like this to give an idea:

https://i.imgur.com/kcO409f.png

But my worry was that such a crudely placed net could end up harming the pigeon or even cause it to flee the nest since it's been tampered with too much. What should we do? How can we protect them?
 

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I don't think the cat net will work and as you said, it might just harm the pigeons if they fly upward. The problem is, if you start tampering with the area now the parents will fly off. They might return, but by the time you are finished the embrios might be dead.

I was thinking about rather put shadecloth (60%) all along the outside of the bars on the balcony, so that only the top part will be open. But this will also cause the parents to leave.

Maybe you should just leave things as they are for now. Let the babies hatch and wait until the parents start leaving them alone during the day (about 10 days old). Then use the shadecloth on the outside of the bars, but only cover up 50 cm from the floor and not all the way to the top. Do it in such a way that nothing can crawl in between the shadecloth and the floor of the balcony.

Make sure the parents continue feeding them after you have done this. I hope this helps.
 
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