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What is this light colored hummingbird?

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 6:28 am in hummingbirds, Opossums, Raccoons

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

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

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:

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!):

Have fun! /Gary

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Chipmunk spotted in Walnut Creek yard

By Gary Bogue
Monday, July 9th, 2012 at 7:14 am in Chipmunk

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

Chipmunk spotted in Walnut Creek yard.

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

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: /Gary

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

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Young white-tailed kites rescued in Antioch

By Gary Bogue
Friday, July 6th, 2012 at 6:10 am in Lindsay Wildlife Museum, White-tailed kite

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

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

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 5:40 am in Kestrel, Mourning dove

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

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

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

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Martinez Beavers had a baby — a new kit!

By Gary Bogue
Monday, July 2nd, 2012 at 6:55 am in Beavers, Martinez Beavers, Worth A Dam

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!

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
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Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon got more than 2,600 dogs & cats adopted!

By Gary Bogue
Friday, June 29th, 2012 at 7:05 am in Maddie's Fund

Guess who got a new pet? Guess who got a new human? (Maddie’s Fund photo)
1got a new pet maddies

Hi everyone:
Well, it’s over! Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon was on the weekend of June 9-10 and a LOT of cats and dogs now have new homes because of it. How good can it get? Look at the photo above.  I’d call that pretty darn good!

As I wrote in previous blog entries before the adoptathon … thousands of FREE adoptable cats and dogs were available to qualified adopters at this huge event — from 63 different animal shelters and nonprofit animal rescue organizations — at 80 different locations in Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Francisco Counties. If you’d like to learn more about the background of this unique program, you can read what I had to say before it happened at

I was away on vacation while Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon was going on. I found this e-mail waiting for me when I returned:
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Hooded orioles freeloading at a backyard hummingbird feeder

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, June 28th, 2012 at 5:37 am in Hooded oriole

A pair of hooded orioles feeding at a backyard hummingbird feeder. Male on left, female on right. Photo by Cathy Whipkey, Livermore, CA
1hooded oriole cathy whipkey livermore

I wanted to share a photo of our beautiful visitors.  This pair of hooded orioles have returned to our hummingbird feeder.  We saw them for the first time last year and were so pleased to see them return.  They’re very skittish, so it was a challenge to get this photo.  We enjoy your column every day.   Thank you.
Cathy Whipkey, Livermore, California

Beautiful birds and a beautiful photo!

I get a lot of correspondence from my readers asking why the nectar in their hummingbird feeders is suddenly starting to disappear at an unusually rapid pace. Well … one reason is that a pair of hooded orioles may have arrived to start sucking those feeders dry! And we should also keep in mind that more than 50 other species of birds have been spotted freeloading at our hummingbird feeders at one time or another … as well as roof rats, squirrels, raccoons, bats … and who-knows-what-else. Pretty amazing when you think about it. /Gary

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Wild turkey family — Backyard Flying Lessons

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 at 6:15 am in wild turkeys

Wild turkey mom and her chicks. Time for flying lessons. Photo by Douglas Tinney, Fremont, CA
1flying lessons douglas tinney fremont

Flying lessons in my backyard.
Douglas Tinney, Fremont, California

Wild turkeys. You gotta love them. Keep your head down! /Gary

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Free Pets at Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon this weekend!

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 at 5:54 am in Cats, dogs, Maddie's Fund, Pets


Now read on … more info below on how you can get a free pet this weekend …

2010 Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon (Maddie’s Fund photo)
Maddies, anyone for a latte

Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon is Saturday and Sunday

You can get a FREE PET & the animal shelter or rescue group where you adopt it will STILL make some money! Read on to find out how.

Thousands of FREE adoptable cats and dogs will be available to qualified adopters — from 62 different animal shelters and nonprofit animal rescue organizations at 80 different locations in Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Francisco Counties.

Here is lots more information:

For a complete list of locations near you (and a map) where you can adopt a free pet on Saturday and Sunday, visit

Need a pet? Go for it! /Gary

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Hummingbird — and the pause that refreshes

By Gary Bogue
Monday, June 4th, 2012 at 6:52 am in hummingbirds

Hummingbirds drink from flowers. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1humm dave harper oakley

Ahhhhhhh … the pause that refreshes!

Hummingbirds really know how to live the good life. Just ask them.

You can see more of Dave’s great photographs in HIS blog at:

And the point is? Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1humm2 dave harper oakley

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