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Archive for the 'Birds' Category

Wild birds help us connect with nature

Jenny of Native Bird Connections with a snowy owl (Wild Birds Unlimited)
1snowyowl jenny mike williams

Native Bird Connections is a nonprofit organization that uses a collection of live, tame, nonreleasable eagles, hawks and owls to educate people of all ages about the wonders of nature. Last year they presented 584 programs that touched the lives of 17,792 people — including school children, scouts, senior living programs, after school enrichment programs, state and national park programs.

As Native Bird Connections supports our young people in their search for knowledge of the natural world around us, this organization also needs our financial support to help them survive these tough times.
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Posted on Friday, May 6th, 2011
Under: Bald Eagles, Birds, Golden eagles, Hawks, Owls, wild birds | No Comments »

Birds pull apart door mat to get nest-making materials

Door mat being pulled apart by birds looking for nesting materials. Photo by Bill Johnson, Walnut Creek, CA
1birdmat bill johnson wc

Gary:
Perhaps you can solve the mystery of what has been happening to our front door mat.  Something has been either tearing at or eating away at this mat, as you can see in the picture.  At first I thought it might be the work of a skunk or a raccoon, but now I am wondering if certain birds are doing it.  I did see a bird fly away once from that general area.  I suppose it would make for good nesting material, but it would have been awfully hard to initially pull it apart like this.  Are birds that strong?
Bill Johnson, Walnut Creek, California

Bill:
Looks like birds to me. There’s a lot of strength in those beaks. I’ve observed birds pulling on plastic window screens until they fray so they can use that material in their nests, and that stuff is a lot tougher than your door mat. I’ve also seen bird nests made out of plastic bags, which certainly improved their waterproofing. The Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek also has a crow’s nest made of electrical wire that was found in the attic of a building under construction. Birds seem to be adapting quite well to living in urban and suburban areas. That’s why I call our backyards, the “Urban Wilderness.” /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Under: Bird nests, Birds, Urban Wilderness | No Comments »

Bird hits window, leaves a perfect imprint

Bird hits window, makes BIG impression. Photo by Barbara in Blackhawk, CA
1bird smudge barbara in blackhawk

Gary:
The day before Easter we were away all day.  When we got home we noticed a smudge on the sliding glass door.   It wasn’t until the next day we saw what it was.  A bird wasn’t in the window… it had hit the window and left its imprint!  We looked around for a body but found nothing.  But it must have had some headache!
Barbara in Blackhawk

Barbara:
All birds have a “feather dust” coating their feathers. This coating is created when the feather quills (stems) break down and turn to dust. It helps make the feathers more waterproof … and it also leaves a perfect imprint of the bird if it hits a window. Fortunately, since you didn’t find a body, the bird was probably only stunned and flew away after collecting its wits.

A one-time accident can happen like this on anyone’s window. If it happens again and again on the same window, you may need to modify the reflection by hanging a potted plant in the middle of everything. /Gary

Posted on Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Under: Birds, Window | No Comments »

Birdhouse falls off shelf, kills baby titmice. Will parents start new nest?

Titmice using birdhouse in middle. Photo by Doris Petersen, San Ramon, CA
1birdhouse doris petersen san ramon

Gary:
I made a sad discovery this morning. A birdhouse with a nest of baby birds had fallen off the shelf on my deck. I suspect it was a neighbor’s cat that I had seen earlier in the morning. Or maybe it was larger birds. I don’t know, but I put it back up on the shelf  where it had been. Right away the titmouse parents were there wanting to go in to feed the babies. After a few times of going into the house and not returning, I knew the babies must be dead. I opened it a little while later and there were 7 dead baby birds inside. I could have cried.  I took the birds out and have left the nest in the bird house, or should I clean out the nest too? Above is a picture I took last week of the titmouse mama or papa going in to feed.
Doris Petersen, San Ramon, California

Doris:
I’m very sorry about the loss of the baby birds. So sad. I’d leave the nest in the bird house. There’s a good chance those titmice parents might come back to start another family. They often do that when they lose their chicks. Cross your fingers!

If the neighbor’s cat knocked down your birdhouse, you might consider relocating it to a new spot where the cat can’t reach it. Or maybe you can figure out a way to keep the cat away from the house at its present location. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
Under: Babies, Birds | 5 Comments »

Pets: Emergency preparedness in case of earthquake, fire, etc.

Do you have an emergency preparedness plan for your pets? (Karl Nielsen)
Kiki & Newman Xmas 4

I just received the NEWS RELEASE below – “9.0 Japanese Earthquake reminds Us Emergency Preparedness Is Critical” — from the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services. The information it contains is VERY important. It could help save the life of your pet(s) (and you!) during an emergency. /Gary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Emergency Preparedness for Pets
Safety Planning in Case of Fire, Heavy Rain or Earthquake

The recent 9.0 earthquake in Japan reminds us that natural disasters can strike at any time and without advance warning. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we learned that people will risk their lives and endanger their own safety to stay with their pets during natural disasters. “One of the big lessons after Katrina was that we must prepare all members of our family for possible disasters, including planning for our family pets,” said General Manager Brenda Barnette.

Here are a few simple tips that could save your life and the life of your pet, too:
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Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cats, dogs, Earthquakes, Pets, Pets & Quakes, Pets in Danger | 2 Comments »

Cedar waxwings & robins are finally here

Cedar waxwing. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
waxwing dave harper, oakley

The cedar waxwings and robins were pretty late this year. They usually start arriving around December, sometimes earlier, to start feeding on the pyracantha and other red berries. This year, lots of red berries but few or no robins and waxwings. I suspect because of the strange weather patterns this last fall and winter (hot when it should be cold, cold when it should be hot, lots of rain, sometimes hail).

Well, looks like they’re finally here:
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Posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cedar waxwings, Pyracantha berries, Robins | 1 Comment »

Baby it’s cold outside! Do you know where your pets are?

Penguins in Antarctica. Photo by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA.
Antarctica1

Baby it’s cold outside! And the San Francisco Bay Area weather report for this weekend is FREEZING WEATHER, especially for Saturday and Sunday mornings when it may get down to the low 20′s in some areas.

Are your pets staying warm during this freezing weather? Here are a couple of simple ideas to help make that happen:
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Posted on Friday, February 25th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cats, Cold weather, dogs | No Comments »

How birds stay warm when it gets cold

Cold purple finch. Photo by Richard Strange, Cave City, Kentucky.
finch richard strange cave city ky

Gary:
I got this from my brother in Cave City, Kentucky:

“The temperature was 29 degrees when I took this picture.  Most birds fluff themselves up when they are resting on their selected perch during cold weather.  Flo and I weren’t sure what this bird was when we first saw it this morning, but with the zoom lens on my “new” Canon we knew it was a Purple Finch.”

He is an avid bird watcher and participates in the bird count every year.  I hope the bird was indeed warm with those feathers fluffed out like that.
Betty, Concord

Betty:
Bird feathers are very efficient. When they fluff them out like that, more air is gathered in the spaces between the feathers, providing more insulation. Kind of like you putting on a down jacket when it’s cold. /Gary

Posted on Friday, February 4th, 2011
Under: Birds | No Comments »

Dead birds falling from sky: Recent bird kills only tip of the iceberg

Wind turbines, Altamont Pass, Calif. Photo by Mike Parr, American Bird Conservancy.
wind turbines mike parr ABC

Recent bird kills are only the tip of the iceberg

I just received the following News Release relating to the recent reports of thousands of dead birds falling from the sky in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Sweden. I thought you might find it interesting. I sure do. /Gary

(Washington, D.C., January 6, 2011) Recent reports of thousands of dead birds falling from the sky in Arkansas, while getting much attention in the press, only represent a tiny fraction of birds killed each year due to human causes, according to American Bird Conservancy, the nation’s leading bird conservation organization.

“There are many human-related causes of bird mortality including buildings, outdoor cats, pesticides, communication towers, automobiles, wind farms, and lead poisoning from spent ammunition and lost fishing tackle. But because most of the deaths from those sources often occur in ones or twos, they often go unnoticed or unreported,” said ABC Vice President Mike Parr.
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Posted on Friday, January 7th, 2011
Under: Birds, Cats, Pesticide, Wind Turbines | No Comments »

Spotted any interesting wild birds in your backyard lately?

Backyard chickadee by Joe Oliver, Walnut Creek, California
chickadee joe oliver wc

Spotted any interesting wild birds in your backyard lately?

What kinds? /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Under: Birds, wild birds | 3 Comments »