Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for June, 2009

Got owls? Photos & facts of our local owls to help you ID them

Barn Owl by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, Calif.

There are 8 species of local owls that you might encounter in your San Francisco Bay Area backyard. Four of these owl species are pictured here. There are links below for you to click on and take a look at the other four owl species on the Internet. Have fun! /Gary

Barn Owl: Probably our most common local owl in the S.F. Bay Area. These owls have white breasts and underwings and if you look up you may think you are looking at a white or snowy owl. Nope. Just a barn owl. Sometimes at night you will hear a loud hissing-screeching sound in the sky above you. Classic barn owl. They nest in old buildings, tree hollows and in human-made nest boxes. They eat LOTS of gophers, rats and mice. VERY beneficial — especially if they live in your backyard. More at
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Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
Under: Owls | 8 Comments »

Pets & Heat: It’s too darn hot! Are your pets staying cool?

Sunrise on a hot day on Mount Diablo, by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA


Some things to keep in mind for dealing with future hot days:
** Make sure your pets have plenty of cool water.
** Do your pets have a cool place to stay out of the heat? Is there outside shade? How hot is it in the shade? (You may be surprised.)
** Keep pet water dishes out of the sun.
** Freeze water in plastic bottles so pets can lie next to them and stay cool.
** Indoor cats also need cool places to sleep. Bathtub bottoms are cool, so leave the bathroom door open.
** Rabbits are very sensitive to heat, so make sure there’s a frozen bottle of water in the cage.
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Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009
Under: Hot Weather | No Comments »

FREE DAY at Lindsay Wildlife Museum on Saturday, June 27

Great horned owl at Lindsay Wildlife Museum
lindsay owl

Saturday, June 27 — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lindsay Wildlife Museum
1931 First Avenue. Walnut Creek; 925-935-1978

Doors open at 10 a.m. and throughout the day, children and adults will get to know the owls, reptiles, fox, hawks, eagles and other wild creatures that live at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Visitors can watch feeding and training demonstrations, and learn about nature in a safe, friendly, family environment.

Adding a picnic in the beautiful, adjacent Larkey Park can make for a perfect day of relaxation and family time together.

Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2009
Under: Lindsay Wildlife Museum | No Comments »

San Francisco Zoo: Special video on S. F. Zoo’s 80th Anniversary


The animals are having a really BIG celebration over at the San Francisco Zoo this weekend, June 27-28, to celebrate the zoo’s 80th Birthday.

Our staff photographer Dan Honda has been documenting the S. F. Zoo and has produced a special anniversary video which you can watch at

You can find out more information on the zoo’s 80th birthday party — hours the zoo is open, admission, special 80th anniversary performances, show times, etc. at:

Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2009
Under: San Francisco Zoo | No Comments »

AP Pet Poll: Americans consider pets to be family poll reveals that American pets are often treated like humans (as if this is a big surprise /Gary)

June 23, 2009: With the downturn in the economy and people seeking more comfort from their pets than ever, a pet care and news site ( recently partnered with The Associated Press ( to poll Americans on their attitudes towards their furry friends. The survey revealed that half (50%) of American pet owners truly consider their pets to be as much a part of the family as any other person in the household.

Single people of both genders, but especially single women (66%), were more likely to say that their pet is a full member of the family. Only 46 percent of married women shared the same viewpoint. In comparison, 52 percent of single men said so, compared to 43 percent of married men.

Lots more at:

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Under: Pets | 2 Comments »

Mother Nature’s Original Dog Toy? You have to see this to believe it.


Fetchstix: Nature’s Original Dog Toy

I’ve come across some pretty weird pet products over the years in my line of work as a pet columnist … but I think this one probably takes the cake. Or the dog biscuit. This product brings new meaning to the old Phineas T. Barnum expression, “There’s a (you-know-what) born every minute.”

I’ve decided to give this product my annual “Cleverest Dumb Pet Toy of the Year” award. It takes pure genius to figure out a way to tie up a couple of sticks with some string and then sell them for $12.95 a bundle.

And would you believe it … these guys even got Jay Leno to help them plug this product (sticks!) on his late-night TV show:

I just received the following press release, which I’d like to share with you:
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Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Under: Dog Toy | 1 Comment »

MARTINEZ BEAVERS: An update on how they’re doing

Martinez beavers art by Kat Mulkey, Lafayette, CA

I thought you might be interested in seeing how the Martinez beavers are doing. The Worth A Dam folks have an excellent web site at which will keep you up-to-date.

I particularly enjoyed the Father’s Day photo of “Dad Beaver.”

While we’re on the subject, you should also check out Cheryl Reynolds’ “Clapperail’s Weblog: Daily meanderings in my life and the Martinez beavers” at

Enjoy. /Gary

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Under: Martinez Beavers | 1 Comment »

OUR PETS: Top 10 wackiest dog and cat names of 2009

Blue Man Chew (VPI photo)
Blue Man Chew

For many a pet owner, Max sounds mundane and Bailey is simply boring.

In order to pay homage to those who take pride in their pets’ unconventional names, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. set out for the second year in a row to find the 10 most unusual dog and cat names in the United States.

VPI employees selected 50 unusual cat names and 50 unusual dog names from the company’s database of more than 470,000 insured pets, and narrowed them down by voting for the 10 most unusual names in each category.

Following are the wacky results:
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Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2009
Under: Pet Names | 1 Comment »

2009 California Animal Legislation: Will these laws affect you or your pets?

2009 California Animal legislation as of June 14, 2009, compiled by Paw Pac, California’s Political Action Committee for Animals.

** For copies of bills: You can subscribe for updates.
** All legislators’ and Governor’s address: State Capitol Bldg., Sacramento 95814. Directory: 916-322-9900.
** To find the names of your Assembly Member and Senator:
** E-mail addresses follow a formula. Examples: or, Letters, including hand written, by regular mail are always preferable to e-mail.
** Paw PAC 2008 California Voting Chart:
** Compiled by: Virginia Handley
** Paw Pac: P.O. Box 475012, San Francisco, CA 94147; 415-646-0622

If you like or dislike any of these laws, write your legislators and the governor and tell them how you feel about it.
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Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2009
Under: Animal protection legislation | 2 Comments »

DEER: Do deer visit or live in your backyard?

Buck with new (velvet) antlers browsing in backyard. Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
buck velvet2

It is quite common for deer to visit your backyard to feed on flowers and vegetables in your garden.

I have also received reports that deer have even been born in backyards. That’s why I now call our backyards — The Urban Wilderness.

Because of this, I’d like to do one of my quickie little surveys about your local deer. I’d appreciate it if you can take a few moments to write down your answers (under comments at the end of this blog) to my brief questions below. Please include the city and state where you live. Thanks.
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Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
Under: deer | 19 Comments »