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Archive for the 'wild birds' Category

Is There Wildlife in Your Backyard Ecosystem?

Do you have wild creatures (birds, opossums, skunks, raccoons, wild turkeys, etc.) prowling around or living in your backyard? Sure you do. That’s why I’m writing this.

Please grab your cameras, take pictures of your wild visitors and send them to me. I’m writing a front page story about your wild neighbors for a Sunday early next year (not far away) and would like to use your photographs to illustrate it. Wouldn’t that be fun? It will also be more natural.

I know a lot of you are already taking these kinds of pictures because you often send them to me. So now we need to get serious about it. I’ll explain more about my plans, including deadlines and the publication date, as I figure them out.

Start shooting away now and post your photos in our Contra Costa Times Pets & Wildlife reader photoblog at You may post your photos anonymously. However, if you’d like us to consider using your shots in my story, please either register and login before submitting your photos or, if you do post anonymously, send me a separate e-mail ( to let me know which image you’ve submitted. If you don’t do e-mail, mail your photos to: Gary Bogue, c/o The Times, 2640 Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.

Be sure and hold onto an original digital or film copy of any photos you submit. Thanks!

Posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2005
Under: Animals, Ecosystem, Raccoons, wild birds, wild turkeys, Wildlife, Yard | 6 Comments »

Falling asleep to the sound of “hoo hoohoo hoo hoo”

Right after Lois and I went to bed last night a great horned owl that was perched in the top of the redwood tree just outside our bedroom window started to hoot. It was so loud it felt like it was sitting right next to me on my pillow.

I knew it was a male owl because of the frequency and combination of his hoots. It was a low pitched, evenly paced "hoo hoo hoo."

After about five minutes of hooting around, a female suddenly answered him from across the canyon with some higher pitched hooting: "hoo hoohoo hoo hoo."

It’s kind of neat lying in the darkness in bed and listening to all this going on in my yard. We were almost perched right up there in the top of the tree with that great horned owl, listening to him trying to convince the lady owl from across the canyon to fly over so they can go perch outside someone’s front window and snuggle up and watch television together.

Great horned owls do their courting in the winter months, usually November and December. They build their nests sometime in December, lay eggs and compete with the tiny hummingbirds to see who hatches the earliest babies of the year. Curious that one of the largest of our birds of prey and the smallest of the nectar drinkers would both nest and raise their chicks while the wintery winds are ruffling their feathers and the freezing rains are still soaking the grass.

As Mother Nature would say, size has nothing to do with toughness in the wild world.

"hoo hoo hoo."

"hoo hoohoo hoo hoo."

That’s a nice sound to fall asleep to.

Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2005
Under: Animals, breeding, great horned owl, nesting, wild birds, Wildlife | 2 Comments »

Is There A Humane Way To Keep Neighborhood Cats Out Of Your Yard?

I knew this subject was going to pop up sooner or later. I just got this note from Pat in Antioch, Ca.:

"Any chance of adding a topic to your blog? Maybe someone else has had luck with a problem kitty! A neighbor’s cat frequents my yard (jumping over at least two fences to get here), and while my bird feeders are (hopefully) out of his reach, I still worry about my feathered friends. I’ve talked to his owner, but to no avail. I realize it’s not HIS fault that his owners are of THAT mentality, but I must admit, I’m liking him less as time goes on."

OK, cat "lovers," please pass along your hopefully helpful and always humane solutions for resolving the universal and seemingly never-ending problem of keeping cats out of your yard. (Just click on "Comments" at the end of this section and have your say.)

Posted on Friday, October 21st, 2005
Under: Animals, Cats, Pets, wild birds, Wildlife | 35 Comments »

Spotted Any New Wild Birds Flying in Your Backyard This Fall?

It’s fall, I live in Benicia, Ca., which is just across the Bay from San Francisco on the Sacramento River, and just down the road from the Sacramento Delta area. My backyard is also right in the middle of the Pacific Flyway, and wild birds travel back and forth above my house as they migrate from one area to another. The best part is when some of these birds stop off in my yard to "refuel" before continuing their flights north or south.

Let’s see … the "red-shafted" flicker arrived a couple of weeks ago and is still screaming from the top of one of my redwood trees. The golden-crowned sparrows and the white-crowned sparrows landed in their little flocks last weekend, along with the "Oregon" juncos. And a male rufous hummingbird popped out of nowhere to start annoying the male Anna’s hummingbird that thinks he owns my yard. Unfortunately for the Anna’s, the tiny rufous can fly rings around it. Soon, I’ll be lying awake at night listening to the big flocks of honkers as they cruise by above my yard heading for the Delta. I’m still wondering what happened to the orioles. They’re usually here by now, sucking my hummingbird feeders dry.

Hey, can you tell I like the fall? What about you? Anything new in your yard?

Posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2005
Under: Animals, wild birds, Wildlife | 4 Comments »