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Archive for the 'Birds' Category

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 »

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 »

Thirsty bird takes a sip from a drinking fountain

Thirsty bird at the drinking fountain. Photo by Ethan Winning, Walnut Creek, CA
1drinking bird ethan winning

I was about to start my morning walk/hike/trek/trudge (it all depends on weather and mood) at Borges Ranch (in Walnut Creek’s Shell Ridge Open Space), when I looked over at the fountain next to the Ranger’s office, and there was a Little Brown Bird that looked very much like a house wren (although I’ve spotted more Bewick’s lately). I got three photos before he took off.

As the year progresses, the shadows over that part of the ranch are later and deeper than during the summer. Why the LBB had to be thirsty in Sept. rather than in July is just Mother Nature’s way of poking fun at photographers.
Ethan Winning, Walnut Creek, California

When you need a drink, you need a drink. It’s always interesting to me how the wild creatures seem to be able to adapt our human conveniences to their own use. Wild birds sip from our drinking fountains … raccoons use our garbage cans to store their food … squirrels turn our attics into giant rodent condominiums. The wild creatures will be around, I suspect, long after we humans are gone. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Under: Birds | No Comments »

Dirty birds: “Splish, splash, I was taking a bath … “

Mourning dove taking a bath. Photo by Joe Oliver, Walnut Creek, CA
1dovebath joe oliver wc

There’s nothing like a cool bath on a hot summer day.

That’s what these birds think.

Everyone’s got their own little bathing technique. Check these out.

Got any photographs of birds bathing in your backyard? Email me a copy to with any added information about same) and I’ll print them here. The more, the merrier, as they say! /Gary
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Posted on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
Under: Bird bath, Birds | No Comments »

Bird nest found hidden in backyard BBQ

Bird nest  in BBQ. Photo by Roger Stone (shared by Judy Wobleski), Walnut Creek
1nest roger stone wc

We’ve been a little late getting started on our summer barbecuing this year, but decided to fire it up last night.  Fortunately, we opened it up to clean it first, and lo and behold – there was a bird’s nest sitting right there to the side of the grill.  We never noticed any activity during the spring, but then we weren’t looking for it by our BBQ.  Even our 3 indoor cats didn’t seem to notice.  Do you have any idea what kind of nest it is? One of your loyal readers,
Judy Wobleski, Walnut Creek, California

Looks like it might be a brown towhee nest, although I could be wrong. Clever to use the BBQ as a nest site, don’t you think? Nice little armor-plated hiding place to keep the cats and jays away … ahem … until it’s time to fire up the old BBQ!

Anyone else out there discover clever, unique or weird bird nest locations? Send them in! /Gary

Posted on Friday, June 24th, 2011
Under: Bird nests, Birds | No Comments »

Last baby to leave the nest, mouth wide open, waiting to be fed

1baby last margaret robideaux san leandro

Last baby to leave nest.

I took this today in my backyard.
Margaret Robideaux, San Leandro, California

Classic baby bird … its mouth wide open, waiting to be fed! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2011
Under: Babies, Bird nests, Birds | No Comments »

Creatures of the Urban Wilderness (your own backyard!)

Friday morning visitors to backyard. Photo by Joann Seaver, Walnut Creek, CA
1deer joann seaver wc

These are my Friday morning visitors. Meanwhile, two crows were chasing a squirrel through the tree canopy, three tom turkeys were strutting their stuff and a small bird was busy building a nest under my eaves. Mother Nature doing what she does best!
Joann Seaver, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, California

That why, long ago, I coined a new description for our backyards. I call them, “The Urban Wilderness.” Seems kind of appropriate, don’t you think? Just make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, settle down in a corner of your backyard … and start observing all the interesting creatures that live there.

You don’t have to go visit a local state park, or a nearby open space area to have this much fun. It’s taking place right in your own backyard. That’s wild! /Gary

Posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011
Under: Birds, deer, Urban Wilderness, Wildlife | 2 Comments »

Mockingbird babies sing National Anthem

Mockingbird babies singing National Anthem. Photo by Katherine Bryce, Walnut Creek, CA
1mock katherine bryce wc

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly …

Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011
Under: Birds, Mockingbird | No Comments »

Pushy little blackbird chases BIG hawk away from nest area

Blackbird chases Swainson’s hawk. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1blkbird hawk dave harper oakley

“Hey! Get out of my airspace,” said the blackbird to the Swainson’s hawk.

Blackbirds are tough little characters, especially when they are protecting their nest areas. That protection appears to include the airspace directly over where the nest is located … as this Swainson’s hawk is finding out the hard way.

The hawk may be bigger than the blackbird, but it’s not as maneuverable. As far as the blackbird is concerned, there’s also a bit of safety in numbers. When one blackbird goes on the attack, the others come running … er … flying. The blackbirds, being MUCH smaller and lighter, can’t really do any damage to the hawk, but in nature, animals rarely come to actual physical blows. It’s all about posturing and image. Just ask any blackbird. /Gary

Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2011
Under: Birds, Blackbirds, Hawks | No Comments »

International Bird Rescue turns 40: Cleans oiled animals worldwide

Oiled great horned owl from tank farm that leaked oil being cleaned. (IBR photo)
ibr1 owl cleaning

I received the news release below (and photographs) from my friends at International Bird Rescue and thought it might interest you. This organization is the GREATEST!! /Gary

California-based oiled bird rescue organization turns 40

The marking of an anniversary could not have been more poignant for California-based oil spill experts, International Bird Rescue, whose team played a key role in the response to last year’s Gulf oil spill.

The 40th anniversary of the wildlife group, formed in response to a San Francisco Bay oil spill in 1971, fell on the same day as the anniversary of the Gulf oil spill. Bird Rescue has responded to aquatic bird emergencies in all corners of the globe, from oiled common murres and bald eagles in Alaska following the Exxon Valdez to 20,000 penguins caught in an oil spill in South Africa.
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Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011
Under: Birds, International Bird rescue research Center, Oil Spills | No Comments »