Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for March, 2010

Goose nest on our roof: Eggs hatch today, see live video here

Mother Goose tends to her baby and the other eggs last year on March 23, 2009, in her CCTimes rooftop nest in Walnut Creek, Calif. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)

Our Mother Goose — the Canada goose that build her nest and laid her 7 eggs on the Contra Costa Times’ rooftop — is having a really good day today. Her eggs are hatching!

Here’s a link where you can watch our Webcam shooting live video of Mother Goose and her chicks on the nest’s-mother-goose

Here’s what’s going to happen today:
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Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
Under: Canada Goose, Mother Goose | 4 Comments »

Bird Nests: Time for 4th Annual Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest!

Mourning dove and baby in nest. Photo by Ernie & Sandy Verdoes, Fremont, CA.
ernie & sandy verdoes

It’s time for the 4th Annual Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest!

Categories: 1. Most Unusual Nest Building Materials. 2. Flimsiest Nest. 3. Weirdest Nest Location. 4. Most Unique Bird. 5. Most Artistic Nest.

NOTE: A Grand Prize will be awarded for the Most Wonderful Nest of All. (More on this later.)

Prizes: Great Prizes for contest category winners: Fancy new feeders, fancy birdseed, bird books and more.

Rules: Nest must be on your property in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are two ways to enter:
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Posted on Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
Under: Bird Nest Contest, Bird nests, wild birds | No Comments »

Live Animal Food Markets: Stop sale of illegal frogs, turtles

Florida softshell turtle. Photo by Flickr user John Picken used under a Creative Commons License.
softshell, florida, john picken

My friend Eric Mills, coordinator of Action For Animals in , Calif., sent the following letter to the Director of Calif. Department of Fish & Game, and to the Calif. Fish & Game Commission. It pertains to the Live Animal Food Markets in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond throughout the state. Many illegal creatures are presently being sold in these markets and Eric has been fighting the good fight for years, trying to stop this travesty.

He’s getting close (GO ERIC!) … the Commission just voted to issue NO future important permits for these frogs and turtles for the live markets. Unfortunately, this still allows current sales to continue for up to a year. What they need to do now is to BAN the current sales of these animals. /Gary

Eric’s letter, written March 24, 2010:
John McCamman, Director

John Carlson, Exec. Director, and Members

Over the years I’ve been making weekly visits to the live animal markets in both Oakland and San Francisco to see whether or not state laws and codes are being enforced.  In a word, they are not.
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Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010
Under: Action for Animals, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles | 4 Comments »

Pet Obsessed: The Cost of Cute

Click on the above graphic — twice — to make it bigger so you can see the whole thing. /Gary

Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2010
Under: Cats, dogs, Pets | No Comments »

C.C. Humane Society opens Kitty Corner to help Animal Services Dept.

Photo by Flickr user WF&DT used under a Creative Commons License
cats in space WF&DT

The month of March brought with it the much anticipated opening of one of the Contra Costa Humane Society’s newest programs: Kitty Corner!

Kitty Corner is a private shelter that houses some of Contra Costa County Animal Services’ surplus adult cats.  During kitten season, many adult cats find themselves out of luck as decreased space and heightened interest in young kittens means that adult cats (even as young as one year old!) are often overlooked. In addition, the current economy has caused surrender rates to increase while decreasing adoptions.

With this first-of-its-kind partnership between a local rescue group and Animal Services, CCHS hopes to help offload some of the feline frenzy that fills the public shelter every Spring, Summer and Fall by providing additional off-site space at CCHS.
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Posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010
Under: Cats, Contra Costa Humane Society, Kittens | 1 Comment »

Honeybees & pesticides: We’re poisoning our own food supply

Photo by Flickr user Todd Huffman used under a Creative Commons License
honeybees2 Todd Huffman

Check out the Associated Press story below. We humans just don’t get it. We’re flooding the local environment with pesticides, killing the honeybees and poisoning our own food supplies. What a disaster. /Gary

By Garance Burke & Seth Borenstein (Associated Press Writers)

Associated Press — The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees’ pollen and hives laden with pesticides.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Under: Bee decline, beekeeper, bees | 1 Comment »

Hummingbird builds nest at Pittsburg Power Plant

Hummingbird nest at Mirant’s Pittsburg Generating Plant. Photo by Jon Ridler, Pittsburg, CA.
hummers4 jon ridler

PG&E may have falcons, but Mirant’s Pittsburg Generating Plant has hummingbirds! These two babies are being raised in a nest on a bearing cooling water return line for a 6 unit condensate booster pump. The water line is warmer (but not too warm) so it’s an ideal nesting location. Mirant employees have marked off the area and are keeping an eye on their young visitors which are approximately 10 days old. These photos were taken March 21 by Jon Ridler, 24-year employee at the plant and member of Worth A Dam.
Heidi Perryman, Worth A Dam, Martinez, CA

Hummingbird nest on bearing cooling water return line. Photo by Jon Ridler, Pittsburg, CA
hummers3 jon ridler

Hi Heidi:
Thanks for sharing these GREAT photos. Hummingbirds don’t mess around. If you need to keep your babies warm, why mess around building your nest in a Pittsburg backyard? Build it at a Pittsburg Power Plant instead! Hummers — you gotta love ’em! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Under: hummingbirds | 1 Comment »

Vine snakes: Unique video of them feeding at Academy of Sciences

Hello Gary:
At feeding time in the California Academy of Sciences’ vine snake exhibit, one blink and you might miss the action.  These pencil-thin snakes hunt fish swimming in the water below, striking with lightning speed.

We recently captured a feeding on film  and I thought you might be interested in sharing it with your blog readers.  A piscivorous arboreal (fish-eating and tree-dwelling) snake is extremely rare, and the Academy was the first aquarium in the world to display this species, thanks to our ongoing research on the reptiles and amphibians of Myanmar.
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Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Under: Snakes, Steinhart Aquarium | No Comments »

MONSTER sunflowers: Looking for seeds to grow 12-foot-tall sunflowers?

Gary and Lois stand in one of their backyard garden boxes, surrounded by 12-foot-tall Burpee Mammoth Sunflowers.

Some of you have been writing and asking where my wife Lois and I get the seeds to grow the 12-foot-tall sunflowers we’ve been growing in our Benicia, Calif., garden. Since you asked:

Dear Gary:
My husband Jim would like to know what kind of sunflower seeds you buy that grow to 12 feet tall with a stalk of 3-4 inches in diameter and where to purchase them.
Sharon Beckerich, Oakley, Calif.
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Posted on Friday, March 19th, 2010
Under: Gardens, Squirrels, Sunflowers | 8 Comments »

Pets & Fleas: Are “Spot-On” flea killers safe?

Fleas photo by Flickr user Megadeth’s Girl used under a Creative Commons License
flea2 Megadeth's Girl

On the bottom front page of today’s (March 18) “Morning Report” section for Bay Area News Group newspapers (in San Francisco Bay Area), is a story headlined, “Flea and tick products linked to pet deaths.” (If you don’t subscribe to one of our newspapers, I’m sure there’s a similar story in yours.)

The first paragraph of the story reads: “WASHINGTON — Products intended to treat cats and dogs for fleas and ticks kill hundreds of pets each year and injure tens of thousands, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday as it outlined plans to make the products safer.”

You probably already read this story, but if you haven’t, here it is:
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Posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2010
Under: Cats, dogs, Fleas, Pets, Ticks | 2 Comments »