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Archive for March, 2012

Cat is completely toilet trained. No more litter boxes!

Mr. Busy, the toilet trained cat. Photo by Lydia Larson, San Leandro, CA
1cat lydia larson san leandro

Here are a couple of pictures of our toilet trained kitty.

Our wonderful 11-month-old kitty, “Mr. Busy,” is completely “toilet” trained.

WOW… no litter box ever again!
Lydia Larso, San Leandro, California

Wow is right! Does he also flush?

How about visiting my blog and adding your comments (below) on how you taught Mr. Bush to use your toilet? I suspect there are a lot of curious people, out there who would like to know! Thanks. /Gary

Mr. Busy, the toilet trained cat. Photo by Lydia Larson, San Leandro, CA
1cat2 lydia larson san leandro

Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012
Under: Cats | 6 Comments »

Western bluebird perching in a ‘No Parking’ zone

Western bluebird perching in a “No Parking” zone. Photo by Ethan Winning, Walnut Creek, CA
1bluebird ethan winning wc

It was a dark and stormy morning in Walnut Creek, but for the first time in 38 years, we had Western bluebirds visiting us near our backyard. Even though it was 9:30 a.m., this guy decided to violate parking regs, and I decided to take his picture.
Ethan Winning, Walnut Creek, California

He better watch it or he’s going to get a ticket! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2012
Under: Western bluebirds | 1 Comment »

Cute hummers in nest: Time to enter Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest!

Baby Anna’s hummingbirds in nest. Photo by Danny & Jeanne, Pleasant Hill, CA
1hummerbabes danny & jeanne ph

Isn’t this cute?

I’m running the above photo for two reasons. It’s cuter than heck … and to remind you that it’s time to enter Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest. Just scroll down and you’ll find out more about my fun contest … or click here if you’re REALLY in a hurry:

Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
Under: Bird Nest Contest, hummingbirds | No Comments »

Bobcat visits a Carmel Valley backyard. Great photo!

Backyard bobcat. Photo by Jeanie Wakeland, Walnut Creek, CA
1bobcat jeanie wakeland wc

Bobcat visits a Carmel Valley backyard

We were visiting relatives in Carmel Valley on Sunday (March 11) when my aunt and I looked onto her patio, which backs up to an open space. We both saw a bobcat strolling along the cement bench on her patio. The cat looked about 30 to 35 pounds and seemed quite at ease. It strolled along the bench and then hopped the back fence.

Outside of a wildlife exhibit, I’d never seen one this close. My relatives said they’ve never seen one in their yard before.
Jeanie Wakeland, Walnut Creek, California

I get a lot of mail from my readers, complaining about neighborhood cats prowling around around in their backyards. I think this raises the cats in your backyard problem to a whole new level. Actually, I think it’s pretty neat! Anytime you can get a closeup look at a bobcat is a special time! Thanks for sharing this photo with us! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
Under: Bobcats | 1 Comment »

Enter Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest!


*** Scroll down to see the Mother Goose Webcam ***


Hummingbird nesting on a chain. Photo by Kathleen Kennedy, Walnut Creek, CA

Bird nest contest

Guess what? It’s spring, and time for my Fifth Annual Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest.

Do you have a wild bird nest (or nests) somewhere in your yard? Grab your camera, take a photo and enter it in our contest. You may win a prize.

Categories: 1. Most Unusual Nest Building Materials. 2. Flimsiest Nest. 3. Weirdest Nest Location. 4. Most Unique Bird. 5. Most Artistic Nest.

Prizes: Books that will be appreciated by anyone who enjoys birds.

Grand Prize: This special book will be awarded to the Most Wonderful Nest of All.

Rules: The nest in your photo must be on your property or where you live in the San Francisco, California, Bay Area.

Two ways to enter:

*** Submit high-resolution photos (400 KB or higher) to the bird nest album found at by April 18. Include your full name and city of residence and the nest category you are entering in the caption field.

*** Snail mail (no later than April 13) your name, address, phone number, nest category and a photograph (don’t send the actual nest!) to: Gary’s Wildest Bird Nest Contest, c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Your pictures should be newspaper-worthy and printed on photo paper.

Deadline: All entries must be received at the Times,2640 Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek, by 5 p.m. April 18.

NOTE: Winning photos will be published in a story I’ll write for in our Home & Garden section after the contest ends.

And a reminder: Please don’t frighten any birds when taking photos! Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2012
Under: Bird Nest Contest, Birds | 1 Comment »

Mother Goose Webcam: Watch a Canada goose as she nests on our roof!

Mother Goose nesting on Contra Costa Times rooftop in 2009. (Times photo)
cct goose

Mother Goose 2012 Reality Show

A Canada goose is nesting on the roof of the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek

A Canada goose we call “Mother Goose” has been nesting every spring on the roof of the Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, CA, for the last seven years.

She’s back again this year to raise a new family of goslings. As I’m writing this, we think she laid 4 eggs earlier this week. She usually lays 6-8 eggs.  If she finishes laying all her eggs this week … based on the approximately 28 days to takes to incubate those eggs, I’m guessing they should hatch sometime around the weekend of April 7-8 … which is Easter Weekend (Sunday is Easter)! Wouldn’t that be appropriate?

Keep your eyes posted here in my blog, and/or on my daily columns at I’ll be writing regular updates on what’s happening and trying to predict when the hatching event happens as we get closer to the date. I’ll definitely let you know when I spot a little beak pecking its way out of the first egg!

In the meantime, you can watch Mother Goose incubate, hatch and raise her babies yourself during daylight hours via our “Mother Goose webcam” at

Have fun! I sure will! /Gary

Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012
Under: Canada Goose, Mother Goose, Web Cam | 2 Comments »

Big Adopt-a-Thon Weekend coming up: rabbits, pit bulls, lots of other pets

Lots of bunnies to adopt at Oakland Animal Services! Photo by Ian Elwood, Oakland, CA
1bunny oakland animal services

Lots of things to do (and adopt) this weekend!

1. Oakland Animal Services, 1101 29th Ave., Oakland, is OVERLOADED with beautiful rabbits that need homes. Been looking for a bunny for your family? Drop by and adopt one! Visit their website at for information on their hours and a peek at all the bunnies and other animals that are available for adoption.

2. Contra Costa Animal Services is holding their “St. Pitty’s Day Adopt-a-thon, Noon-3 p.m. Saturday (March 10), at Pet Food Express, 2158 Contra Costa Blvd., Pleasant Hill. Plenty of loveable pitbulls to adopt. Website: You can also join them on Facebook:

3. Petco and Hill’s Science Diet are hosting a National Pet Adoption Weekend, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (March 10 & 11) at all Petco locations. Check with local stores for exact times and details of specific adoption events. Visit for locations.

Have fun … and I hope you find yourself a new family pet in the process! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Under: Cats, dogs, pit bull, Rabbits | No Comments »

Hooded merganser spotted in Walnut Creek

Hooded merganser in Walnut Creek, CA. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
1hooded merganser brian murphy wc


The things you can learn by just looking at the birds in our creeks! I didn’t know what a hooded merganser was, and thought they looked like the common mergansers until I took a photo of a pretty bird in the creek.  I looked it up in a bird book and sure enough I had my first photo of a hooded merganser in Civic Park, in downtown Walnut Creek!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012
Under: Mergansers, Wood Ducks | 2 Comments »

Mourning dove babies ready to leave the nest. Cute photo.

Mourning dove babies just about big enough to leave the nest. Photo by Marbi Wise, Concord, CA
1dove babies marbi wise concord

I thought I heard you were asking for pictures of nesting birds. This mourning dove nest is in our backyard in Concord and these little guys learned to fly just a few days after this picture. The nest wasn’t empty long and now another Mom and Dad are getting it ready for their new baby doves. Very cute to watch.
Marbi Wise, Concord, California

Spring has arrived when the mourning doves start to nest. Things happen pretty fast. Mom usually lays two eggs … it takes 14-15 days for them to hatch … and another 12-14 days until the babies are big enough to leave the nest. A typical mourning dove will raise 2-3 families every spring. That’s probably the same pair of doves that are getting ready to nest again.  They are such terrible nest builders, I suspect that’s Mother Nature’s way of making sure at least a few babies survive. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Under: Mourning dove | 1 Comment »

Springtime arrives in a local backyard, along with a pair of raccoons

Springtime in a local backyard. Photo by Linda Bowman, Fremont, CA
1coons linda bowman fremont

Here are a pair of young lovers after they consummated their relationship on our back lawn one morning. After mating they cleaned themselves up completely and headed for the edge of our pool to give me this shot.
Linda Bowman, Fremont, California

Spring is definitely in the air. And now for a dip in the pool … /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 5th, 2012
Under: Breeding season, Raccoons, Spring | 1 Comment »