Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween: BOO!

BOO! Gary says, “Happy Halloween!” Photo by Lois Bogue, Benicia, CA


Happy Halloween, everyone! /Gary

Posted on Monday, October 31st, 2011
Under: Halloween | 2 Comments »

Gull thinks its mouth is bigger than a starfish

Gull trying to swallow a starfish. Photo by Joanne Smith, Union City, CA
1gull starfish joanne smith union city

I saw this gull in Santa Cruz.  I watched him for quite a while and the starfish stayed put.  Do you think this is a starfish survival method and he is purposefully sticking himself inside the bird’s throat so he can’t be swallowed?

If so, will this kill the bird?  Or do you think the starfish will dehydrate first?
Joanne Smith, Union City, California

I think it’s more a case of the gull thinking its mouth is bigger than the starfish. Gulls are pretty good at swallowing BIG things and it looks like this bird is giving the starfish its best shot. After a bit, if it doesn’t work, the gull will bend over, shake it’s head violently back and forth a lot until it dislodges the starfish. It may give it another shot (gulls are stubborn), or it will go look for something smaller. /Gary

Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2011
Under: Seabirds | No Comments »

California tarantulas caught in a web of lies

California tarantula on Mount Diablo. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
diablo tarantula3

Dear readers:
The California Department of Fish and Game sent out the news release below about tarantula myths and Halloween. It seems appropriate to print this now, with Halloween just 4 days away. If you are afraid of spiders, I suggest you cover your eyes before reading it. :) /Gary

California Tarantulas Caught in Web of Lies

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to crush the myths surrounding one of the season’s most misunderstood critters – the tarantula. These hefty, hairy spiders have been unjustly maligned for decades and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) wildlife biologist Nathan Graveline wants to set the record straight.

Graveline has been fascinated with tarantulas since he was a young boy growing up in the Central Valley, where these spiders enjoy the dry, well-drained soil.

“I handled quite a few tarantulas and was never bitten, but I did get a rash from the small irritating hairs on their backs,” said Graveline.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Under: Spiders, Tarantulas | 6 Comments »

BOO! Happy Halloween!

BOO! Photo by Hannelore Harwood, Walnut Creek, CA
1boo hannelore harwood wc


BOO! Happy Halloween!

Hannelore Harwood, Walnut Creek, California




Posted on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Under: Cats, Halloween | 2 Comments »

Oh boy, these apples are good!

Oh boy, these apples are good! Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
1deer apple mike gordon wc

These deer came by to visit my apple tree for lunch!
Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, California

YUM! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Under: deer | 1 Comment »

Saw-whet owl with babies in a nest box

Saw-whet owl in nest box, surrounded by dead mice caught by her mate for feeding her babies. Babies are keeping warm under the adult owl’s warm feathers. Photo by John Ratcliffe, Brentwood, CA
1saw-whet2 john ratcliffe brentwood

I was invited on a bird-banding for wood ducks and saw-whet owls earlier this year.  I got a kick out of the number of mice/rodents that were delivered to this owl’s nest.
John Ratcliffe, Brentwood, California

It was nice of somebody to put up the wooden nest box this little owl is using. Saw-whets, barn owls and other owls like to use man-made nest boxes. It’s not always easy to find hollows or old woodpecker holes in trees.

Saw-whet owls may only be 8-inches tall, but they are one of the most aggressive little hunters in the bird world. From the way this owl (probably the female) is puffed up and her body is spread out, I suspect she’s keeping 4-6 babies warm under her feathers. All those fresh, dead mice lying around her were brought by her mate so she can feed her hungry chicks.

There used to be some saw-whet owl nests in the trees around San Pablo Reservoir near Orinda. Maybe there still are. /Gary

Saw-whet owl in nest box, surrounded by dead mice caught by her mate for feeding her babies. Babies are keeping warm under the adult owl’s warm feathers. Photo by John Ratcliffe, Brentwood, CA
1saw-whet john ratcliffe brentwood

Posted on Monday, October 24th, 2011
Under: Owls, Saw-whet owl | 1 Comment »

Wildlife tragedy: 49 exotic animals killed in Ohio

PAWS sig

Dear readers:
Tuesday night, the owner of a private collection of 56 live wild animals near Zanesville, Ohio, released all of the animals from their cages and then killed himself. By Wednesday afternoon local authorities had killed 17 lions, 18 tigers, 2 grizzly bears, 6 black bears, 3 mountain lions, 2 wolves, and 1 baboon. What a tragedy.

I just received the following information from my friends at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Galt, California. It explains a lot. /Gary


Private Ownership of Wild Animals Proves Catastrophic

(San Andreas, CA) — After the tragic news from Zanesville, Ohio, early Wednesday morning (Oct. 19), PAWS’ founders, Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, are once again urging states to enact emergency regulations restricting the sale and possession of dangerous wild animals for private ownership.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 20th, 2011
Under: Wildlife | 2 Comments »

Nina had this beautiful visitor on her deck!

Visitor on Nina’s deck. Photo by Nina Anderson, Moraga, CA
1spiderweb nina anderson moraga

Visitor on my deck!
Nina Anderson, Moraga, California

We should all be so lucky! Beautiful!! /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Under: Spider web | 1 Comment »

Turkey vultures spreading their wings on a new day

A turkey vulture takes off while another stands on a limb and spreads its wings in the morning sunlight. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1turkey vultures dave harper oakley

How turkey vultures survive in the wild

Turkey vultures pick up a lot of bacteria on their feathers while feeding on dead carcasses of animals. One way they deal with this is to spread their wings in the morning sun so the ultraviolet radiation can kill some of that bacteria.

When vultures urinate, the acidic urine sprays down on their legs and feet (turning them white), killing bacteria the birds pick up while standing on dead carcasses.

Mother Nature — What a clever lady. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
Under: Turkey vultures | No Comments »

Skunks: Somebody’s been eating my porridge!

Guess who’s been eating the cat food when you leave it out on the patio at night?
1cat skunk karen turnbull's sister

My sis sent this from her home in So. Calif. What advice should I give her?
Karen Turnbull, Hayward, California

If your sis hasn’t already figured it out, I suggest that she NOT leave food out to feed the cat on the patio in the evening and at night. This just attracts the skunks … and one day your sis will pay the price when a VERY BAD smell wafts through her house. It’s OK to feed the cat outside during the day when skunks are fast asleep. /Gary

Posted on Friday, October 14th, 2011
Under: Cats, Skunks | 1 Comment »