Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for July, 2012

What is this light colored hummingbird?

A leucistic Anna’s hummingbird (left) eats at a feeder next to a normal-colored Anna’s  (right). Photo by Constance Tweedie, Crockett, CA.
1hummer lite constance tweedie crockett

Gary:
I have observed a new hummer at my very popular feeder here in Crockett.  I’m  on the last street looking toward Port Costa just above the area known as Elk Horn Canyon. Its unusual coloring sent me to my Audubon book and  the Internet in search of a name, but, alas, I have not been able to identify it.  It has very light coloring — an almost white underbelly and light gray wings with a rectangle of light cream on the base of its wings. There are no iridescent markings around its neck. It has integrated into the hummingbird population without incident — other that the usual star wars that go on around the feeder. I hope that you can figure what type of hummer it is.
Constance Tweedie, Crockett, California

Constance:
Looks like this hummingbird (probably an Anna’s) has an abnormal amount of melanin in its feathers to give it color. This condition is called “leucism.” According to a piece I read on the Internet from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, there appears to be several types of leucism.  This condition differs from albinism, which is a pure white bird with pink eyes and no melanin.

The San Francisco Bay Area also has both albino and leucistic raccoons and opossums.

Here’s more information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology article to help enlighten you on this subject: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/Albinism_Leucism.htm

Fascinating, don’t you think? Just when you think you have birds and their markings figured out, something like this comes along to confuse you. That’s why bird watching is so much fun. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, by the way, is the best source I know for information on bird feeding, the birds in your backyard, and anything else I can think of on native songbirds.

*** Here’s more on Cornell (and birds!):

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1189

Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Under: hummingbirds, Opossums, Raccoons | 3 Comments »

Chipmunk spotted in Walnut Creek yard

Chipmunk in Walnut Creek backyard. Photo by Madeleine Gallagher, Walnut Creek, CA.
1chipmunk madeleine gallagher wc

Chipmunk spotted in Walnut Creek yard.

Gary:
Here is a photo of our new resident chipmunk, and another of our lizards sunning themselves.  The chipmunk’s arrival is a mystery – we have lived in Walnut Creek for over 30 years and we have never had a chipmunk in our yard. This little guy arrived a few weeks ago and is eating the birdseed fallen on the ground. He seems to be alone and stops by in the afternoon – I put some sunflower seeds out for him.   If this is not a native Walnut Creek chipmunk, where do you suppose he came from? My husband thinks he hitched a ride with our neighbors, who returned from camping a few weeks ago.
Madeleine Gallagher, Walnut Creek, California

Gary:
We do not have chipmunks in the Bay Area … so it has to come from someplace else. If your neighbors just returned from camping … that seems to be a possibility. It has happened before. A little rodent is caught snoozing in a box of camping equipment/food and gets a free ride home to a new area. Do you know where your neighbors went camping?

Here’s a link to photos of different species of chipmunks found in California. See if you can identify what species your new resident chipmunk might be and then try to match it up with the location where your neighbors went camping, or vice versa: http://www.google.com/search?q=california+chipmunk+photos&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=5OP6T-jtFMXY2QWn5a3bBg&ved=0CEAQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=629 /Gary

Western fence lizards sunning on a rock in a Walnut Creek backyard. Photo by Madeleine Gallagher, Walnut Creek, CA.
1lizards madeleine gallagher wc

Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2012
Under: Chipmunk | No Comments »

Young white-tailed kites rescued in Antioch

Young white-tailed kites in box, ready to be returned to their nest. Photo by Deanna Moss, Antioch, CA.
1kite deanna moss antioch

Young white-tailed kites rescued in Antioch

Gary:
We live in Antioch and are lucky enough to have several redwood trees around our home.  A couple of months ago, I noticed 2 unique birds circling our house.  After researching online, I learned that they are white-tailed kites.  And lucky us…they decided to nest in one of our trees!

On Saturday, June 9, we had a party at our house, and it was very windy.  The wind blew the entire nest out of the tree, and onto our roof.  Two of the babies were hanging onto the nest, and were fine, but one hit the roof and did not look like it would survive.  I IMMEDIATELY called the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, had my husband put gloves on, and packed up the babies and the nest in a box for transport.  Lindsay later contacted me and told me that the one bird didn’t survive, but that the other 2 would be okay.  Later that night, I found another bird on the ground, and unfortunately it did not survive.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2012
Under: Lindsay Wildlife Museum, White-tailed kite | 1 Comment »

Kestrel & mourning dove — “Good fences make good neighbors”

“Good fences make good neighbors.” Dove and kestrel check each other out. Photo by Linda Mosley, Antioch
1dove hawk linda mosley antioch

Gary:
Peace in our neighborhood!

Just thought I would share with you our view yesterday (June 30) afternoon on our backyard fence. A young, we believe, kestrel on the left and an adult mourning dove on the right. They would look at each other and then look away.  They stayed that way for almost 10 minutes!
Linda Mosley, Antioch, California

Linda:
Just one of those neat little encounters that probably happens in backyards everywhere every day. The kestrel, a little falcon, is a bird of prey, a predator. The mourning dove, probably the most peaceful bird in town, gets along with everybody.

Both birds are approximately the same size, hence the “let’s keep this relationship at arm’s (wing’s?) length. Nobody gets hurt. Everyone goes away happy.  Would that everything in life be this simple. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Under: Kestrel, Mourning dove | 1 Comment »

Martinez Beavers had a baby — a new kit!

New beaver kit in Martinez (Worth A Dam photo)
1beaver kit worth a dam mtz

Guess what? The Martinez beavers had a baby — a new kit!

Gary:
Martinez Beavers: the next generation! a new beaver kit!
The above new beaver kit was seen by myself, Jon and Moses Silva at the footbridge, around 8 p.m. Sunday evening (July 1). The kit emerged three separate times including a tiny kit tail slap! We also heard him whine at an adult. Looks healthy and all the extended family seemed to be keeping an eye on it. Dad has moved with what appears to be a new mate into a bank location above the footbridge. Worth A Dam couldn’t be happier to know that our family is still going strong. Nearly two years to the day after mom died, life has officially gone on.
Heidi Perryman, Worth A Dam, Martinez, California
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Under: Beavers, Martinez Beavers, Worth A Dam | 4 Comments »