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Archive for March, 2012

Hummingbirds: Some incredible closeup photos!

Hummingbird hovering in front of feeder. Photo by Steve Gilcrest, Walnut Creek, CA
1hummer2 steve gilcrest wc

I have a number of hummingbird feeders, but one in particular is situated outside my home office window which is 3 feet from my desk. I get some great views of these amazing little creatures.

I have had one lose it’s grip and fall over backwards, I have seen two birds on one perch feeding out of the same hole where one is upside down, and I also enjoy watching them feed out of my homemade feeder that I fashioned out of a mold I made from my hand. I was trying to desensitize them to the point where they would actually take nectar from the palm of my hand. During the summer months I will bring the feeder inside my office and they will continue to use the feeder. Attached are a couple photos of my friends.
Steve Gilcrest, Walnut Creek, California

Hummingbirds are amazing, fearless creatures with an infinite curiosity about the world around them. When I’m watering my backyard garden, our local male Anna’s hummer will zoom down and hang in the air in front of me so I can give it a free shower from the hose. I can also hold up an eyedropper full of nectar and he’ll come feed from it. What a trip! Your photos are BEAUTIFUL! /Gary

Hummingbird resting on feeder perch. Photo by Steve Gilcrest, Walnut Creek, CA
1hummer steve gilcrest wc

Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012
Under: hummingbirds | 5 Comments »

Hundreds of birds keep flocking in Antioch backyard

Titmice perching in backyard tree. Photo by Laura Carmody, Antioch, CA
1titmice laura carmody antioch

I have been watching hundreds of titmouse’s (titmeese?) flying and perching in the trees that are along my back fence. Behind my fence is open space created by a flood control channel. This activity has been going on for a couple hours now. It has been happening almost every morning for several weeks.

Last week, there were hundreds of cedar waxwings. At first, that is what I thought I was seeing this morning. Then I got my camera out. Before the waxwings, it was a hundred or so robins for several days in a row. My bird book map shows that the waxwings only winter here so I figure I was watching a huge migration happening.

What gives with the swarming robins and titmouse’s? Mind you, I’m NOT complaining.  If I have to live by a highway, I prefer the noise of the bird migration highway.
Laura Carmody, Antioch, California
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Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012
Under: Cedar waxwings, Robins | 1 Comment »

Martinez Beavers to visit John Muir Earth Day festivities

Beaver chew twig pencil (Worth A Dam)
1beaver pencil worth a dam

The John Muir Earth Day festivities would never be complete without beavers!

This year children at our booth will be encouraged to design their own tails and volunteers who wear them will receive one of these special beaver chew twig pencils (see above) as a reminder of the day and their contribution!

Worth A Dam hopes to see you all there, and if you miss us at Earth Day look for us at the Girl Scout’s Fun Hundred celebration at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in May!
Heidi, Worth A Dam, Martinez, California

I want one of those NEAT beaver chew twig pencils! See you at the John Muir Earth Day festivities, wagging my tail behind me! /Gary
John Muir Association Earth Day:

Posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Under: Earth Day, John Muir Association, Martinez Beavers | 2 Comments »

Mama hummingbird still feeds her baby after it leaves the nest

Mama hummer feeding a teenage chick. Photo by Carol Pool, Livermore, CA
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My baby hummingbirds have left the nest.  They hung out in my butterfly bushes for a couple of days.  Mama is still feeding them.
Carol Pool, Livermore, California

After the baby hummingbirds leave the nest, they usually stick around with mama hummingbird for a week or so to give her a chance to teach them how to survive in your backyard. There’s a lot of stuff for a teenage hummingbird to learn … how to catch insects, which flowers are the best ones to obtain nectar from (although a lot of that comes with instinct), and, of course, how to use a hummingbird feeder.

Note the long bill on the young hummer that’s being fed by its mama in your photo above. It’s hard to feed a baby bird with a looong beak (kind of like fencing with foils). When baby hummers hatch, their beaks are short, like other birds. That’s to make it easier for mama to feed them (Mother Nature knows what she’s doing!). As the youngsters grow, their beaks also grow and get longer, until when they leave the nest, they have long “hummingbird” beaks so they can probe deep into flowers to get to the nectar. Neat little birds, aren’t they? /Gary

Hummer chicks ready to leave the nest. Photo by Carol Pool, Livermore, CA
1humm2 carol pool livermore

Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Under: hummingbirds | No Comments »

Downward Facing Squirrel … raiding the bird feeder

Downward Facing Squirrel. Photo by Lynda Nunn, Walnut Creek, CA
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This funny squirrel stretched as long as its body could go for birdseed!
Lynda Nunn, Walnut Creek, California

Classic squirrel Yoga … Downward Facing Squirrel. I can hear its vertebrae popping, even as we speak … ummmmm … bird seed. /Gary

Ah, that was good bird seed! Photo by Lynda Nunn, Walnut Creek, CA
1squirrel lynda nunn wc

Posted on Monday, March 26th, 2012
Under: Bird Feeders, fox squirrel | No Comments »

Egret goes fishing in a backyard pond

Egret checking out backyard pond for fish. Photo by Tracy Hiler, Martinez, CA
1egret tracy hiler, mtz

I took this photo of an egret in our backyard (in Martinez), last weekend.  He was amazing, but after the “photo shoot” I had to chase him out of the yard, because I was afraid he might go after some of the fish in our pond.  Most of our fish are pretty good size, so I was wondering, just how large of a fish this guy could swallow?
Tracy Hiler, Martinez, California

This egret was probably cruising by overhead when it spotted your pond and decided to drop in for a little fishing. With these fish-eating birds, their eyes are often bigger than their stomachs … or in this case … bigger than it’s mouth or neck. That long neck, by the way, is pretty stretchy and can expand to swallow some pretty BIG fish. In any event, yes, the egret might have taken a shot at catching one or more of the “good size” fish in your pond. How large a fish can it swallow? You never know until you try. You were wise to chase it away.

Just keep in mind that it might return to try again when you’re not around. /Gary

Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Under: Great egret | 2 Comments »

Get The Lead Out! Help save birds and other wildlife (and you)

Bald eagle. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA


Dear readers:
Please read the information below and do what you can to help GET THE LEAD OUT! As you can see, this is vitally important for you, me, and all the other living creatures on this planet. Thanks for caring. /Gary

We’ve taken dangerous lead out of paint, gasoline, water pipes and even cooking utensils. But perversely, we continue to allow lead to poison and kill millions of birds and other animals in the wild each year. This wildlife epidemic is entirely preventable.

That’s why the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 140 other groups recently petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate lead in hunting ammunition. Fragments of lead bullets are often left in game that’s shot in the wild, and spent lead shotgun pellets can litter popular hunting areas at densities of more than 400,000 pellets per acre. Bald eagles, California condors, trumpeter swans and dozens of other bird species are poisoned when they consume lead-tainted game or ingest toxic lead shot. Some birds merely get sick, but millions die of lead poisoning annually.
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Posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Under: Lead bullets | No Comments »

California State Humane Scorecard

Feral kitten: “Please let me in!” (Bogue)

Check out the information below before election time. It may help you make up your mind on who to vote for … or not. /Gary

The Humane Society Legislative Fund Releases California State Humane Scorecard

Scorecard evaluates elected officials on work for animals for the 2011 state legislative session

SACRAMENTO — The Humane Society Legislative Fund is releasing its California State Humane Scorecard ( for the 2011 state legislative session. The scorecard provides a snapshot of California state lawmakers’ records on animal welfare policies. Lawmakers are scored based on their floor votes on bills addressing such issues as animal fighting, microchipping shelter dogs, the road-side sales of animals, vaccinations, shark finning, spaying and neutering, animal cruelty and licensing.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Under: Cats, dogs, Humane Laws | 1 Comment »

Mother Goose is still on her nest on our roof, incubating her eggs!

Mother Canada Goose tends to her baby and the other eggs on Monday, March 23, 2009 in Walnut Creek, Calif. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)


Just thought I’d remind you that Mother Goose is still sitting in her nest on the roof of the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, incubating her eggs.You can learn lots more about this wonderful Canada goose, and also find a link that you can click on to watch Mother Goose, LIVE, on our webcam at:

Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Under: Mother Goose | 1 Comment »

Company works to protect jaguars, other wildlife

Jaguar with radio collar around neck for tracking and study. (Arizona DFG photo)

Why can’t we have more companies like the one below!? /Gary

Environmentally responsible coffee company works to protect jaguars and other wildlife in Central and South America

The Lincoln, Calif.-based Rogers Family Company has launched a new organic “Fairly Traded” coffee – “Rare Find” – to help the wild cat conservation organization Panthera protect one of the world’s most beautiful and iconic animals: the jaguar.

Rogers Family Company – which has worked for decades with farmers to grow coffee in concert with nature – will donate 20 percent of Rare Find online sales and 10 percent of wholesale/distributor sales to support Panthera’s jaguar conservation initiatives.
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Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2012
Under: Jaguar | No Comments »