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Archive for April, 2011

Why are non-permitted turtles still sold in San Francisco live food markets?

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

****Dear readers:
I’m off taking a break for a week. I’ll be back here in my blog on Monday, May 2. See you then!! /Gary

Dear readers:
My friend Eric Mills, Coordinator for ACTION FOR ANIMALS in Oakland, CA, sent the following email to the following people. I think it speaks for itself. I’m sure Eric (and thousands of dead and dying turtles and bullfrogs) would appreciate it if you add your own voice (and emails!) to this fight. The email addresses are below. Thanks for caring! Please send Eric a copy of any emails you send on this ( /Gary

Sent: Thu, 21 Apr 2011
April 21 (John Muir’s birthday, who’s doubtless rolling in his grave)

Greetings, all:
Well, the mayhem continues.  I just returned from another visit to the San Francisco live animal food markets.  Little has changed — except for the  worse, perhaps.
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Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Under: Live Animal Markets, Turtles | 1 Comment »

Cooper’s hawk grabs a bird in a local backyard

Cooper’s hawk feeds on bird. Photo by Michelle Foy, Pleasanton, CA
1coop michelle foy pleasanton

I was sitting in my family room at home (near the foothills in Pleasanton) working on taxes this afternoon, when a saw a flurry of activity and what turned out to be a cloud of feathers out the window. I went out in the backyard to see what the commotion was, and I saw what I believe was a Cooper’s Hawk on top of the fence with his prey. I went back in and got my camera and proceeded to watch him de-feather and eviscerate what I fear may have been a baby bird. He didn’t seemed concerned that I was standing there and I was, for once, finally able to get the great backyard wildlife photo I was trying for. Eventually he flew off with what remained of his prey. It was a cool moment, although I still felt bad for the victim!
Michelle Foy, Pleasanton, California

We can always feel bad for the “victim,” but that’s how life works in the great outdoors. Everything has to eat something else in order to survive. The hawk eats the bird that eats the bugs that eat the grass … ad infinitum. And the turkey vultures and the dermestid beetles are always standing around in the wings, waiting to pick up the pieces. Life goes on. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Under: Cooper's hawk, Hawks | 4 Comments »

Birdhouse falls off shelf, kills baby titmice. Will parents start new nest?

Titmice using birdhouse in middle. Photo by Doris Petersen, San Ramon, CA
1birdhouse doris petersen san ramon

I made a sad discovery this morning. A birdhouse with a nest of baby birds had fallen off the shelf on my deck. I suspect it was a neighbor’s cat that I had seen earlier in the morning. Or maybe it was larger birds. I don’t know, but I put it back up on the shelf  where it had been. Right away the titmouse parents were there wanting to go in to feed the babies. After a few times of going into the house and not returning, I knew the babies must be dead. I opened it a little while later and there were 7 dead baby birds inside. I could have cried.  I took the birds out and have left the nest in the bird house, or should I clean out the nest too? Above is a picture I took last week of the titmouse mama or papa going in to feed.
Doris Petersen, San Ramon, California

I’m very sorry about the loss of the baby birds. So sad. I’d leave the nest in the bird house. There’s a good chance those titmice parents might come back to start another family. They often do that when they lose their chicks. Cross your fingers!

If the neighbor’s cat knocked down your birdhouse, you might consider relocating it to a new spot where the cat can’t reach it. Or maybe you can figure out a way to keep the cat away from the house at its present location. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Under: Babies, Birds | 5 Comments »

Can anyone babysit these two dogs for two months?

Sunflower by Gary Bogue

Dear Gary:
My son is a Hero who is in need of help. Last February my son jumped through a screen and off a 2nd story apartment balcony to save his dog who was being mauled by a Pit bull Mastiff. The outcome of his dog was 90 staples to reattach his scalp and ear. The dog has made a complete recovery. My son was not quite so lucky. He broke/smashed both his ankles and suffered dog bites. He spent a month at John Muir Hospital, with two operations and facing a third. He has not walked since and is in a wheelchair at a Respite care facility for the homeless. He has chosen to remain homeless because he cannot find a place that will take him and his two dogs who are his family.

The family that took care of his dogs for the last couple months, had to move and leave them. We have checked all available resources. Would any of your readers foster them for about two months until my son recovers? They are well trained, lovable, playful and get along with animals and children. The two dogs are a Queensland/McNabe breed. One is a male of medium size, and the female is medium small. They are brother, sister.

He has a small disability check which can pay for their food and the monthly flea treatments. His dogs are helping him to recover during this painful situation.
Sandi and Bryan Tieslau,, Antioch, CA

Dear readers:
Can anyone out there help? Sandy and Bryan are also on disability, so they can’t take the dogs. If you can help, please contact Sandi & Bryan at Thanks for caring. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
Under: dogs | 3 Comments »

Bobbi’s cats need homes!

This is Glory B, one of Bobbi’s cats
bobbicats2021 glory b

An elderly friend of my niece’s in Bay Point (CA) died suddenly earlier this month, leaving behind 17 cats, a dog and two birds. Her brother is taking the dog but my niece and another friend are trying to help the others. Needless to say, they need homes.

The cats are of various types, ages and colors. All are being spayed and neutered and various illnesses treated before they will be ready for new homes. But there are limits to how much the group can do and they need all the help they can get.

They’ve put up a blog: Anyone interested in giving one or more a home or contributing to their care is invited to look at it. They can also get more information by e-mail at or call or text 1-530-902-2057.
Pat Keeble, Martinez, CA

Yipes! 17 cats! Hope this helps! Please let me know. /Gary

Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011
Under: Cats | No Comments »

Bushtit tries to chase away his reflection from a window

Bushtit pecking on outside of window. Photo by Clinton Collier, Concord, CA
1bird at window clint collier

No robins or jays pecking at our window. Just this little fellow.

Showed up yesterday, spent about 5 minutes going back and forth along the window, pecking away at it.  Went away but returned several times and then was back again this morning … again several times already. May have a nest somewhere as there appear to be two of them and our thistle seed feeder is just out of sight to the upper right.  He’s as cute as they come.  Only about an inch or so high and apparently can’t see us on the other side as we can get right up next to the window and it doesn’t faze him.  He’s very good at holding on to the seal that holds the window pane in as he scoots back and forth across the window.

Wife says he’s trying to point out that I need to wash the window(s)!
Clinton Collier, Concord, Calif.

I’m sure this little bushtit has a nearby nest. Once the eggs hatch, male birds get very territorial and try to drive other males of the same species away from their turf. The outside of that window obviously gets very reflective (like a mirror) at certain times of the day when the sun is positioned just right. This little guy probably spots that “other” male bushtit (his reflection) in the window when he’s visiting your thistle seed feeder and zips over to chase him away. This will pass in a week or so when he gets too busy feeding his ever-hungry chicks in the nest. /Gary

Posted on Friday, April 15th, 2011
Under: Bushtit | No Comments »

Cornell Lab of Ornithology video: ‘One Year After the (Gulf) Oil Spill’

Gulf rig fire & resulting oil spill (US Coast Guard)

Video: “One Year After the Oil Spill”

A powerful new video by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, shares footage of birds after the oil spill and notes the power of observation and citizen science to advance conservation. You must watch this:

Cornell’s oil spill website also has a number of other interesting new videos about the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig rupture that ultimately released more than 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

One year after the spill, tar balls of oil are still washing ashore onto Louisiana beaches, even as we speak.  /Gary

Posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Under: Oil Spills | No Comments »

Red-winged blackbird dining out at the Spider Web Cafe

Red-winged blackbird eats bugs in web. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA.
1redwing web dave harper oakley

Insects caught in a spider web provide food for lots of other creatures besides the spider that spins the web. Like this hungry red-winged blackbird, for example. YUM! Free bugs!

All life is interconnected in one way or another. Even by bugs. Of course, next time the blackbird may eat the spider.  /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Under: Insects, Red-winged blackbird, Spider web | No Comments »

Screech owls: Local backyard is home for two special friends

Screech owl adult (l.) and chick (r.) perched outside attic nest. Photo by Lori Katzburg, Walnut Creek, CA.
1screech lori katzburg wc

I feel so grateful for having a wonderful treat to marvel at each day:  A mama and papa screech owl have been living in my attic/house vent for over 8 years now.  Each spring they bring new baby “owlies” to my backyard.

The mama and papa are comfortable with my quiet presence. Their wings have brushed my shoulders on several occasions. The feeling is absolutely awesome.
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Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
Under: Owls, Screech owls | 3 Comments »

White pelicans fishing at San Pablo Reservoir

White pelicans fishing at San Pablo Reservoir by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA.
1wpelicans dave harper oakley

This group of photos were all taken at San Pablo Dam Reservoir (near Orinda, CA). Due to budget issues they close the south end boat launch area three days a week. This gave me an opportunity to hike there from the north end of the lake. With relatively no one around I was able to get decent access to the white pelican population of the lake.

The water there is still muddy and must be making it tough on ospreys and bald eagles and I saw both at a distance.
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Posted on Monday, April 11th, 2011
Under: Cormorants, Mergansers, Pelicans | No Comments »