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Archive for the 'Birds' Category

Robins: Check out this special robin spot at the Presidio in S.F.

Robin nesting material. Photo by Heather Van Rykn, Walnut Creek, CA.
robin heather van rykn wc

Hi Gary:
Found these while playing at the Presidio in San Francisco: Winged Wisdom – 3 sites that describe robin behavior. Each letter is framed with a steel armature and mesh netting and is filled with straw, providing nesting material for the American robin.

I love living in the Bay Area!
Heather Van Rykn, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Photo by Heather Van Rykn, Walnut Creek, CA
robin2 heather van rykn wc

Hi Heather:
You’re right! You never know what you’re going to find lurking around the next corner! (I’ll bet a lot of other bird species will be taking advantage of all this free nesting material.) /Gary

Resolve conflict with song. Photo by Heather Van Rykn, Walnut Creek, CA
robin3 heather van rykn wc

Posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010
Under: Birds, nesting, Robins | 1 Comment »

Speaking of robins: “YUM! It’s the berries!”

Robin eating red berries. Photo by Jim Kardos, Walnut Creek, CA.
robin jim kardos wc

Speaking of robins: “YUM! It’s the berries!”
Photo by Jim Kardos, Walnut Creek, CA

Got interesting photos of wild creatures in your backyard (or in the area) that you’d like to share with the rest of us?

Please e-mail your digital photos to me at Please include the name and city of the photographer (example: “Photo by Joe Smith, Walnut Creek”). Also please include a statement that it’s OK for me to publish your photo(s) in my blog.

Thanks! Looking forward to seeing and sharing your pictures of local wild things. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Under: Birds, Robins, Wildlife | No Comments »

Cooper’s hawks prey on birds at our backyard feeders

Cooper’s hawk sits on the fence, checking out sparrows feeding at a nearby bird feeder. Photo by Lloyd Garbutt, Livermore, CA.
coop lloyd garbutt livermore

I have a Cooper Hawk which visits every once in a while in my backyard and I managed to watch him for some time trying to flush out some sparrows from the bushes below my bird feeder. Attached are some photographs which I took.
Lloyd Garbutt, Livermore, CA

Cooper’s hawks, being bird-eaters, always try to take advantage of bird feeders by preying on the little birds that are attracted to the feeders.

Because of this, the sparrows, doves, finches and other birds that use the feeders have to continually be on the alert for these aggressive hawks. Otherwise, it’s bye-bye-baby.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
Under: Birds, Cooper's hawk | 2 Comments »

Spiders: Did a spider catch this bird in its web?

Starling and spider webs. Photo by Gloria Crim, Crockett, CA.
starling web, gloria crim, crockett

I have enjoyed your column for a long time and now I need your expertise to answer a question that presented itself in my front yard in Crockett.  Actually it was my grandkids who brought this to my attention.  They asked me the question and I couldn’t come up with the answer … Grandmothers really don’t know EVERYTHING!

I have attached photos of a dead bird caught in a spider web in a tree outside my front fence. What kind of spider in our area can weave a web so strong that it will capture a good-sized bird and hold it til it dies? Scary scene … especially for the super-active imagination of two kids! Thank you in advance for your input.
Gloria Crim @ home in Crockett, Calif.
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Posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
Under: Birds, Life, Spiders | 1 Comment »

American goldfinches on a backyard sock feeder

American goldfinches photo by Joe Oliver, Walnut Creek, CA
american goldfinch joe oliver

American goldfinches feeding  on my backyard sock feeder.
Joe Oliver, Walnut Creek, California

From time-to-time I’ll be running photographs of wild creatures that live in the Urban Wilderness: Our backyards. If you happen to take such a picture, please send me a copy attached to an e-mail to so I can post it here for others to see. Please include your name and the name of the city and state where you live so I can properly credit you as the photographer. Thanks! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2010
Under: American goldfinch, Birds | 1 Comment »

Endosulfan: EPA moves to cancel all uses of this toxic pesticide

Endosulfan is toxic to cedar waxwings and other birds (Amanda Rose/El Sobrante, CA)
waxwings2, amanda rose, el sobrante

Finally! The Environmental protection Agency is canceling all uses of the toxic pesticide, Endosulfan! About time. This is VERY nasty stuff! /Gary


EPA Moves to Cancel All Uses of Toxic Pesticide Endosulfan

(Washington, D.C.,  June  29, 2010) — American Bird Conservancy today hailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to end all U.S. uses of the insecticide endosulfan (trade name: Thiodan prior to 2002 and later called Thionex) which has been found to pose reproductive and neurological risks to birds, other wildlife and humans.
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Posted on Thursday, July 1st, 2010
Under: Birds, Pesticide | 1 Comment »

4th of July: Illegal fireworks can harm wild birds

Fireworks and moon. Photo by Flickr user I’ll Never Grow Up used under a Creative Commons License.
I'll Never Grow Up

Planning on firing off some illegal fireworks this coming 4th of July holiday weekend?

Please read the following information first. OK?

Thanks for caring. /Gary
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Under: Birds, Fires, Fireworks, wild birds | No Comments »

Cats prey on young birds, rabbits & other newborn wildlife

Cat killing bird. Photo by Flickr user Andrew Currie used under a Creative Commons License.
Andrew Currie 2

Just received the following information (below) from The Wildlife Society (TWS) and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Please read it carefully and think about it. The lives of our cats, young birds, rabbits, squirrels, and other wild creatures are important.

We need to do all we can to make sure they are safe. Thanks for caring. /Gary
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2010
Under: Babies, Birds, Cats, Cats killing wildlife | 5 Comments »

Bird seed: I finally figured out why my feeder gets empty so fast

Deer at my bird feeder (Lyrinda Snyderman/Berkeley, CA)
lyrinda snyderman, berk

I finally figured out why the bird seed vanishes so fast out of my feeder!
Lyrinda Snyderman, Berkeley

Ah, yes, the Antler-Crested Deer-Bird. They tend to eat a lot of seed. /Gary

Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2010
Under: Bird Feeders, Birds, deer | 2 Comments »

Western bluebirds: Catching insects in a pesticide-free garden

Western bluebird parents catching insects to feed young. (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
bluebirds, brian murphy

Attached is what happens when western bluebirds nest in a pesticide-free garden like The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, CA. There is such an abundance of insects to feed young, the parents have to take turns to get into the nest box as they are catching insects so quickly.  The flight to catch insects is less than 100 feet from the box into the gardens.
Brian, Walnut Creek, California

Down with pesticides … UP with bluebirds! Thanks, Brian! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
Under: Bird nests, Birds, Western bluebirds | 1 Comment »