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Archive for March, 2011

What’s that thumping on our roof? It’s NOT Santa!

Wild turkeys on roof. Photo by Richard Asadoorian, Antioch, CA
2turk richard asadoorian antioch

I heard a thumping on the house and thought it was the Comcast guy doing our install, but our dogs continued to go crazy. As I went out front, a contingency of neighbors were clicking cameras at our home and lo and behold you can see what was on our roof top.
Richard Asadoorian, Antioch, California

The wild turkeys like to get up on our rooftops because they can get a better view of the surrounding area. Just checking out the turf … or maybe Comcast hired them to do your install.

I’ve received reports of wild turkeys from just about all over the Bay Area. Yours is the first I’ve heard from Antioch. More to come, I’m sure. If anyone  sees any wild turkeys in your neighborhood, please leave a reply/comment below listing the approx. numbers,  town and nearest cross streets. I’d like to get a rough count of how many turkeys we’ve got out there in never-never land. Thanks. /Gary

Wild turkeys on roof. Photo by Richard Asadoorian, Antioch, CA
1turk richard asadoorian antioch

Posted on Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Under: wild turkeys | 8 Comments »

Friends of Wagner Ranch Nature Area, 10th Annual Wildlife Festival

Great horned owl by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
great horned owl brian murphy wc

We are delighted that you will be joining us on Sunday, April 17, for our 10th Annual Wildlife Festival. Here is a short blurb (below) about the event for your column. I am happy to provide more details about the program. Best wishes,
Kathy Barrett, secretary, Friends of Wagner Ranch Nature Area, Orinda, Calif.

10th Annual Wildlife Festival

Bring the family to the Wagner Ranch Nature Area on Sunday April 17, 1-4 p.m.
for a delightful adventure under the canopy of oaks.

Local wildlife expert and columnist Gary Bogue will kick off the event that includes dozens of educational organizations.

Activities for all ages include: a Raptor Show of live birds … Lindsay Wildlife Museum activities … a PAWS reading program with ARF dogs Willa and Scout … test drives with Winter Chevrolet’s electric Volt … a giant solar balloon … Math in the Garden with Jenny Maguire … a wildlife scavenger hunt … Eagle Shield energy systems … pond and creek explorations … delicious food from Savory Affairs … music … crafts … games … and much more.

The Nature Area is at 350 Camino Pablo in Orinda, next to Wagner Ranch Elementary School. This free event is organized by the Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area.  For more information visit

Posted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Under: Wagner Ranch Nature Area, Wildlife | No Comments »

Hooded oriole freeloading at a backyard hummingbird feeder

Hooded oriole at hummingbird feeder. Photo by Beth, Redwood City, CA
1hooded oriole beth redwood city

I have a question for you and/or your readers:  What kind of bird is now eating at our hummingbird feeder?  I searched the Internet for information, and saw birds that look similar, but none that seem to be exactly like the one visiting our hummingbird feeder.  I am attaching a photo of the bird here.  I live in Redwood City, California.
Beth, Redwood City, Calif.

Your visitor looks to be a hooded oriole (Icterus cucullatus). These birds eat insects, small fruit, nectar from flowers, and the visit hummer feeders to sip nectar with the other birds. Over 50 different bird species have been spotted freeloading at hummingbirds feeders from time to time. Nothing like a little free junk food to start the day. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Under: Hooded oriole, hummingbirds | 3 Comments »

Scrub jays eat ticks from backs of deer

Jay eats ticks on deer’s head. Photo by George Puterbaugh, Walnut Creek, CA
jay deer george puterbaugh wc

Over the last couple of weeks I have seen a blue jay hopping on the back, neck and head of a deer and pecking out of the fur insects or something. I have only seen a similar act by birds in Africa working over a water buffalo. Is this unusual for this area?
George Puterbaugh, Walnut Creek, Calif.

It’s actually pretty common. About a year ago I answered a similar question in my newspaper column and immediately received a bunch of e-mails and letters from other readers who had observed jays hopping around on deer and pecking and feeding on ectoparasites (ticks, fleas, lice) in the same way as oxpeckers dine on the backs of large grazing animals in Africa.

I did a little research and found a couple of scientific papers reporting on “Observations of Scrub Jays Cleaning Ectoparasites from Black-Tailed deer” as far back as 1944. The deer appear to love it. They certainly don’t protest. /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2011
Under: deer, scrub jay | No Comments »

Sandhill cranes wintering at Holland Tract in the Delta

Sandhill cranes over Holland Tract. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
sandhill crane dave harper oakley

Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) spend the winter at Holland Tract in the Eastern part of Contra Costa County, California, in the Delta about 40 miles east of San Francisco.

These enormous,  nearly 4-foot tall birds, are similar to herons. They have a very obvious red patch on their foreheads. As you can see, they are quite beautiful. My thanks to Dave Harper, of Oakley, California, for sending me these excellent photographs for our enjoyment. Thanks, Dave. /Gary

Sandhill cranes over Holland Tract. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
sandhill crane2 dave harper oakley

Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011
Under: Sandhill crane | 1 Comment »

Hummingbird photo: Up close and VERY personal

Hummingbird by Rochelle Rosenkild,
humm rochelle rosenkild san bernardino co

My niece has an old rose bush in her yard with a hummingbird’s nest in it.

I love this picture because one can see every …  little …  teeny feather. How precious is that! This is near Riverside, CA.
Karen, Hayward, Calif.

Every little teeny feather is right! What a beautiful photo! A hummingbird, up close and VERY personal! Thanks for sharing this. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2011
Under: hummingbirds | No Comments »

White-tailed kites preying on rodents — nesting time is near

Kite with rodent kill. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1kite marina chainey richmond

A stunning white-tailed kite has established it’s hunting ground in Wildcat Park and I can’t wait to run out and find him/her at it’s favorite perch every day after I come home from work.  Rodents are plentiful and it repeatedly returns to devour another victim as I watch with delight and awe.  I haven’t seen a mate about yet.  Any ideas when that may occur?
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California

Breeding time for white-tailed kites starts about now and could happen anytime, so keep an eye out. If you’re lucky. they might choose to nest in a nearby tree. What fun it would be to be able to observe the parent kites raising their youngsters. Cross your fingers! /Gary

White-tailed kite landing in tree. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA.
2kite marina chainey richmond

Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Under: White-tailed kite | 2 Comments »


HOPE in Morocco! Photo by Marilyn Berg Cooper, S.F. Bay Area, CA
1cat in morocco marilyn berg cooper

They have street kitties EVERYWHERE, including the restaurants, in Morocco. Most are smallish, the size of teen cats.
Marilyn Berg Cooper, San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.

WOW! Those pieces of meat are bigger than the cat! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
Under: Cats | No Comments »

It must be spring, the mourning doves are in bloom

Busy dove nest. Photo by Gene Crawford, Antioch, CA
busy dove nest gene crawford antioch

The column you wrote on March 18 (“It must be spring, the doves are in bloom”) caught my eye. I have a small spider plant hanging right outside my living room window. Monday I noticed there were two doves in the plant. Now there is what I suppose is a hen. It looks like she is sitting on her nest. I haven’t seen any eggs because I don’t want to disturb her.
Gene Crawford, Antioch

I can see by the above photo the dove is definitely sitting on its nest (male and female take turns). Takes 14-15 days for eggs to hatch and another 12-14 days until the chicks leave the nest. Doves nest as close as possible to humans and human activities because this keeps jays and other predatory birds away.

As anyone can see by your photo, that’s a very busy area. Smart birds! /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 21st, 2011
Under: Mourning dove | No Comments »

UC Davis News: Don’t give potassium iodide to your pets

Family pets by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
Kiki & Newman Xmas 12

I just received the News release below cautioning pet owners NOT to give potassium iodide tablets to their pets. Please read it carefully. It’s important. Thanks. /Gary

University of California, Davis
March 17, 2011


Pet owners anticipating the possible movement to the West Coast of radioactive material from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plants should not give their dogs, cats or other pets potassium iodide tablets, cautions a UC Davis veterinary cancer researcher.

“At this point there is no risk to pets in California stemming from radiation released from the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan,” said Michael Kent, a faculty veterinarian who specializes in radiation cancer therapy.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011
Under: Cats, dogs, Pets, Radiation & Pets | 2 Comments »