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Archive for February, 2011

Cedar waxwings & robins are finally here

Cedar waxwing. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
waxwing dave harper, oakley

The cedar waxwings and robins were pretty late this year. They usually start arriving around December, sometimes earlier, to start feeding on the pyracantha and other red berries. This year, lots of red berries but few or no robins and waxwings. I suspect because of the strange weather patterns this last fall and winter (hot when it should be cold, cold when it should be hot, lots of rain, sometimes hail).

Well, looks like they’re finally here:
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Posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cedar waxwings, Pyracantha berries, Robins | 1 Comment »

Baby it’s cold outside! Do you know where your pets are?

Penguins in Antarctica. Photo by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA.

Baby it’s cold outside! And the San Francisco Bay Area weather report for this weekend is FREEZING WEATHER, especially for Saturday and Sunday mornings when it may get down to the low 20’s in some areas.

Are your pets staying warm during this freezing weather? Here are a couple of simple ideas to help make that happen:
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Posted on Friday, February 25th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cats, Cold weather, dogs | No Comments »

Hummingbirds nest in the strangest places

Mobile hummingbird. Photo by Larry Johnson, Walnut Creek, CA
humm nest 2 larry johnson wc

Our hummer is at it again.  Last year she used the fan light for her nest.  This year we denied her that spot because of the mess it made … so she chose the fish mobile, and just sits there enjoying the ride.  I wonder if her babies will  be dizzy birds?
Larry Johnson, Walnut Creek, Calif.

All hummingbirds tend to be dizzy little characters, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Kind of reminds me of the mama hummingbird who constructed her tiny nest inside a glass porch light, right up next to the light bulb. I wonder if her babies had a tan? Hummers. You gotta love ’em. /Gary

Mobile hummingbird and nest. Photo by Larry Johnson, Walnut Creek, CA
humm nest1 larry johnson wc

Posted on Thursday, February 24th, 2011
Under: Bird nests, hummingbirds, nesting | No Comments »

Cat watching the bird & squirrel shows on ‘Cat TV’

Cat watching scrub jay on Cat TV. Photo by Sandy W., Martinez, CA
cat tv1 sandy w in mtz

Here are photos of my cat, Kira, watching “Cat TV” on Monday.
Sandy W., Martinez
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Posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Under: Cats, Squirrels | 5 Comments »

Snow on Mount Diablo Sunday morning: Brrr!

Snow on Mount Diablo. Photo by Robert L. Heaton, Lafayette, CA
diablo snow robert heaton laf

What a beautiful day as seen from our living room window (Sunday morning, Feb. 20).  Snow on Mount Diablo!!!
Robert L. Heaton, Lafayette, Calif.

I wish I had your living room window! All I saw out of mine Sunday morning was  frost-covered rooftops on all the houses in my neighborhood in Benicia. The thermometer outside of my family room window said 31 degrees F. That’s COLD! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
Under: Mount Diablo | No Comments »

Wild turkeys stopping traffic in downtown Concord!

Wild turkeys in downtown Concord. Photo by Laura Olson, Concord, CA
wild turkeys laura olson concord

I work with a bunch of turkeys in downtown Concord!  I took the above photo Tuesday (Feb. 15) morning from my 5th floor office across the street from the Concord BART station.  These guys stopped traffic on busy Clayton Road.  Quite a sight!
Laura Olson, Concord, California

It’s getting to the point where you can’t go anywhere without running into a little (or a big!) flock of wild turkeys. I’m not sure what the answer is. The only thing I DO know is that sooner or later we humans are going to have to deal with them.

Just a couple of years ago the only turkey you ever encountered was the one who sat next to you in the office. As Bob Dylan once said, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” /Gary

Posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011
Under: wild turkeys | 6 Comments »

Burr! When it’s hailing in Benicia, can snow be far behind?

Photo by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
hail to the hail karl nielsen

Hail to the hail in Benicia, California

When I got home from work on Wednesday afternoon, the sky turned black, the temperature dropped from 46  to 38 degrees F. in about 3 minutes, and it sounded like someone dumped a bucket of gravel on my back deck when it started to hail.

Fortunately, my son Karl, the photographer, was there to record this chilly event.

Know what? Those pea-size bits of ice really sting when they hit you on the face. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Under: Cold weather, Hail | 1 Comment »

Don’t use rodent poisons: They can also kill other animals

Rodent poison can also kill bobcats. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
bobcat brian murphy wc

Many wild creatures living in the urban interface are impacted by eating poisoned rodents. That includes coyotes, bobcats, gray foxes, great horned owls, barn owls, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and raccoons, just to name a few.

I looked at some d-con for mice off the shelf at Rite-Aid.  Near the bottom of the label under Environmental Hazards: “Predatory and scavenging mammals and birds might be poisoned if they feed upon animals that have eaten the bait.”

But who reads labels these days.

The Victor Fast-Kill rodent poison just says “it may take 2 or more days from the time of bait consumption for these rodents to die.” They say you can use the stuff indoors or outdoors! The box says nothing about secondary poisoning.
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Posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Under: Bobcats, Gray foxes, great horned owl, Rat poison, Red-tailed hawk | 1 Comment »

Lily the cattle dog: Love at first sight

Lily the cattle dog by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
lily the cattle dog by karl nielsen

Our son, Karl the photographer, was up in Napa County photographing a cattle roundup when he ran into Lily the cattle dog. It was love at first sight. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
Under: dogs | No Comments »

These 3 cats DESPERATELY need homes ASAP!

These 3 cats need homes ASAP. From Sally at FFF.
cats need home sally fff

Dear readers:
My friend Sally, of  the cat rescue group Friends of the Formerly Friendless (FFF), contacted me this morning about the cats pictured above and listed below. They are in desperate need of loving homes ASAP (it’s a personal thing I can’t go into). Can anybody help?

** GIGI: Female; three-years-old; solid black; long-haired; spayed. Very energetic and loving.

** MOCHA: Female; about 9-years-old; beautiful part Siamese, part fluffy white cat; very blue eyes; spayed.  She’s a very loving lap cat and loves to snuggle on beds and sofas.  She needs a nice, quiet home as she doesn’t do very well with loud noises so no young children.

** BUZZ: Male; gray long-haired tabby; neutered.  Great personality, purrs often, and would love to be spoiled.

If you can provide a home for one (or more) of these beautiful kitties, please contact

Thanks for caring and helping, my friends. /Gary

Posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »