Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for April, 2012

Gray fox visits local backyard

Gray fox visiting a Clayton backyard. Photo by Teresa Boatwright, Clayton, CA
1grayfox teresa boatwright clayton

Thought you would be interested in the above photo of a recent visitor to our backyard. We watched him for about 30 minutes before he hopped onto a rock and over our back fence.
Dan & Teresa Boatwright, Clayton, California

Dan & Teresa:
I love gray foxes. I’m starting to get more and more reports of these beautiful little mammals appearing in Bay Area backyards. As we humans move into their wild territories and develop them with our houses … these small predators are returning the favor and quietly visiting our backyards when we aren’t looking, to use them for their hunting grounds. You were probably short a gopher or two when the fox left. Lucky you! /Gary

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2012
Under: Gray foxes | 2 Comments »

Sharp-shinned hawk lands & walks into bushes after its prey

Sharp-shinned hawk stalking towhees, sparrows and quail from back of boat trailer. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1sharpie dave harper oakley

… at Del Valle Reservoir in the Livermore area … I witnessed something I had never seen before. A sharpie (sharp-shinned hawk) lands on a boat trailer (above) and watches the towhees, sparrows and quail running beneath the brush. Then this bird who is built to fly through branches and catch its prey on the wing, gets so impatient it lands on the ground and walks into the brush after them. He made the mistake of entering “their world” and after much commotion, the sharpie flew out frustrated and returned empty handed to the treetops.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

Sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks, both accipiters (members of the family Accipitridae), are like that. They get so focused on taking their prey, they forget everything else, including the right and wrong way to do things. One time I was standing in an oak woodland area watching a ground squirrel digging a hole to bury an acorn. A Cooper’s hawk, which had been sitting on a branch above and slightly behind me, and apparently was so focused on the squirrel it didn’t even see me, came diving in to grab the squirrel. It was so low, it brushed the top of my head!

Another time, I saw a Cooper’s hawk try to follow a ground squirrel it had been chasing down its hole. That was definitely entering “their world.” Crazy birds. They never give up! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Under: Cooper's hawk, Sharp-shinned hawk | No Comments »

Daughter Goose takes over Mother Goose’s nest, lays eggs

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

Return of the Gosling

A new Canada goose has moved in to use the old nest left by Mother Goose! First time THAT has happened!

This appears to be a young goose. She’s smaller than Mother Goose, has sharper features and is a bit more slender. I think it’s one of Mother Goose’s goslings, maybe from last year. Bird chicks will often return to where they were hatched and build their own nests … or use their old nest if it’s still there.

Just for fun, I’ve named this goose, “Daughter Goose.” Personally, I do think this IS one of Mother Goose’s chicks. This nest on our newspaper’s roof is way too difficult for other geese to find. It’s on a small rooftop off the main roof and hidden by redwood trees. It’s just too much of a coincidence to have her move in and take over this nest just a couple of days after Mother Goose left with her chicks.

So Daughter Goose it is. And here is the link to click on so you can watch her on our Daughter Goose Webcam:

It takes 28 days for the eggs to hatch (I think there are 6 eggs in the nest). Based on when we think Daughter Goose laid these eggs, I’m guessing they’ll probably hatch sometime during the week of May 7-13.

We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime … ENJOY!! /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Under: Daughter Goose, Mother Goose | 5 Comments »

Dragonfly: Energy & beauty combined!

Dragonfly taking a break from mosquito hunting. Photo by Bob Benson, Lafayette, CA
1dragon bob benson laf

This gorgeous dragonfly landed on the tip of the radio antenna of our Prius and I managed to be in the vicinity at just the right time to get this photo. Is this an example of conserving energy but not beauty?
Bob Benson, Lafayette, California

I say it’s more likely an example of conserving energy AND beauty! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Under: Dragonfly | 1 Comment »

Are California quail returning to local backyards?

Male California quail. Photo by Lynda Nunn, Walnut Creek, CA
1aaquail lynda nunnwc

This picture was just taken a few minutes ago. It’s not often I capture good pictures of a quail. They are too fast. I got lucky. This cutie was up in the tree on the lookout.
Lynda Nunn, Walnut Creek, California

California quail are one of my favorite birds. This male is beautiful! A few years ago they were rarely seen in local backyards, I suspect because we had so many feral cats that eat quail running around the Bay Area. But the feral cat rescue groups (and coyotes) seem to be thinning the feral population, because I’m getting more and more reports of quail being sighted just about every week. That’s great! /Gary

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Under: California quail, Feral cats | 4 Comments »

Red-tail hawk feasts on gopher snake

Red-tailed hawk feeds on gopher snake. Look carefully through the branches and you’ll see the snake’s body hanging down. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1gophersnake marina chainey richmond

The gophers are plentiful in Wildcat Regional Park and I’ve been watching many raptors make meals of them.  Apparently the gopher snakes are also partaking in the bounty.  However, this gopher snake became a meal for a Red-tailed Hawk today.
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California

The food chain can get very complicated, or as they say … it’s a jungle out there! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Under: Gopher, Gopher snake, Red-tailed hawk | 1 Comment »

Mother Goose Family update

Goslings grazing on grass. They’ve really grown! Photo by Ann & Bill, Concord, CA
1heather5 ann bill concord

Finally got to Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek after the rain stopped.  Mom, Dad & babes were there and the only family there. Saw maybe 20 adults, but no other youngsters.
Ann & Bill, Concord, California

Ann & Bill:
Thanks for taking the time to track down Mother Goose and her family so my readers can see that they are doing well! Much appreciated.

The following information is what I wrote in today’s column for the Bay Area News Group newspapers (for those who don’t read my columns). It’s a roundup of what has happened to Mother Goose and her little family since her eggs hatched and the four goslings jumped off their rooftop nest site at the Contra Costa Times. Also more of your great photos!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Under: Mother Goose | 13 Comments »

Can you find the two fence lizards in this photo?

Find the two western fence lizards. Photo by Barbara Yencho, Martinez, CA
1fence lizards barbara yencho martinez

These guys always blend in so beautifully, and then blow their cover when I walk by.
Barbara Yencho, Martinez, California

Western fence lizards are like “Where’s Waldo,” you have to really look to find them. Like the two fence lizards in the above photo.  Oh, and “Where’s International Bird Rescue?” Directly below this entry. Just scroll down. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Under: Western fence lizard | 1 Comment »

Who Cares for Birds? International Bird Rescue, that’s who!

Pelicans being cared for at International Bird Rescue. (IBR photo)

Dear readers:
I just received the news release below announcing the 40th anniversary of International Bird Rescue (IBR). Wow! It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years since that wonderful organization came into existence in 1971 as a result of the oil spill in San Francisco Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.

I was Curator of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, at the time, and volunteers from throughout the Bay Area, including our own wildlife rescue team, jumped into the middle of that oily mess to help care for the thousands of birds that were oiled as a result of that spill. A few months after the spill, a few of us got to talking about the need for an organization that dealt with oiled wildlife … and IBR was born.

I was briefly on the original IBR board of directors, so we could have enough experienced wildlife care people on the board so we could incorporate as a nonprofit organization. Bird rescue has come a long, wonderful way since then, and is now THE leader in oiled wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in the world. Please read on … I think you’ll find it very interesting. This is a very special organization! /Gary
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2012
Under: Oil Spills | No Comments »

Spring has sprung with beautiful birds

Red-winged blackbird by Lynda Nunn, Walnut Creek, CA
1blackbird lynda nunn wc

How can you tell spring is here?

By the beautiful bird life fluttering around you … sparkling in your eyes.

Lynda Nunn says it all with these wonderful photographs she took at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, California.

Enjoy! /Gary

Western bluebird on fence by Lynda Nunn, Walnut Creek, CA
1bluebird lynda nunn wc

Posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012
Under: Birds | 1 Comment »