Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Buzzard Monitor

Today is the last day of 2009.  Can't say I am sad to see it go.  Last night we had our prime rib dinner to celebrate the New Year since we are busy tonight.  This meant that there was a bonanza of food for the ravens this morning.  Prime rib bones, hunks of fat and bread slices with the fat from the roasting pan. 
What a raven FEAST!  Now I have noticed that whenever there is food of an appreciable size or delecticity- the buzzard appears.  This big bird monitors our house and when he sees something he would like to eat, he lurks around.  He really wanted to come down to where I feed the ravens but he seemed reluctant to do so.  I don't know why because he has come down before.  I did see the raven fly at him a few times to discourage his interest in the food.
Then there is GREEDY Bold.  I put out two rib bones.  He wanted both of them.  He picked up one and put it next to the other one.  Now he had both bones together.  He spent some time trying to figure out how to pick up both bones at the same time.  This was not going to work, so he flew off with one bone.  While he was gone I expected Shy to come down out of the tree for the remaining bone.  But Shy did not.  Maybe the buzzard was the intimidating factor.  In the end, the ravens got all the food and the buzzard sat in the tree.  It must be a young buzzard.  An old buzzard would have taken the situation well in hand and I would have had to go outside and do my flapping arm thing to get it to go away!
Here is hoping that 2010 will be a better year for all God's creatures.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Very Raven Christmas

Chirstmas was very Merry for the ravens and for ME!  My family has got the message (knock, knock, click, click, clunk) that I like RAVENS= and came through with the raven goods!  I received a very cool raven tee-shirt, a personalized tea mug with the name Raven Maven on it and a picture of a perching raven AND a big raven puppet from the National Park Service Store!  I now have 2 raven puppets and plan to put on a puppet show for the ravens as soon as the fog clears out.

The ravens received a very bountiful largess of phenomenal proportions- a set of prime rib bones complete with lots of fat, as a gift from family members.  I saw raven sitting in the redwood tree so I put out a large hunk of meat and fat. I then went inside and was peeking through the drapes to see what Bold would do.  Bold saw me and gave me the raven eye.  (the raven eye is a bright and shiny eye that takes you in and says- I know what you are up to)  Bold  then came down to the deck railing to get the treat.  Bold  jumped around, forward and back a few times and THEN- he picked up the whole piece in his beak and flew off with it with Shy following right behind.  It made me think that raven could pick up a whole rat if the occassion arose for such a necessity.

We went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie the day after Christmas since I have been a Sherlock fan for many years.  The director of the movie incorporated ravens into many of the movie scenes.   He utilized the raven as a necrological  apparition-announcing a death.  The only problem with all this necrological nonsense was that the ravens had a CROW'S voice.!  No great croak, or knock or click or clank- just a plain ole CAW!  Pishaw- a perfectly poised remonstration- from 1895!  I got it straight from my grandmother who was born in 1895- pishaw for crow's voices for ravens.  For those lexicographers in the group:
Pishaw is derived from PISH- to make an exclamation of disgust!
A thing which causes many poohs and pishes, And several oaths!  Byron
Grandmother and I are in good company!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Symphony of Ravens

We went to SF to shop and look at the decorations and were gone for 4 days.  The ravens had Fred to feed them the chicken eggs along with feeding and playing with Andy the cat.  The next morning after our arrival home- there they were, the ravens at 7:30 AM-right on time!

While in SF- the City by the Bay- we drove down to Ocean Beach and what to my surprised eye did I see but an "unkindness" of juvenile ravens.  I drove right into a parking place near the ravens.  I have decided to rename the plural noun for ravens from an "unkindness" to a "symphony".  A symphony of black ravens is a much more poetic and appealing name- don't you think? 
There was a man about my age sitting on a bench by the Ocean Beach walkway.  He had a bag of food with him and was feeding 5 juvenile ravens.  He would put a piece of food on the back of the back support of the bench and a raven would come and pick it up.  This was about 16" from the man's body.  The man did not turn around and look at the raven, but let the bird pick up the piece of food in peace.  The man told me he had retired and came down everyday to the bench by the beach to watch the birds.  He had made friends with the ravens.  There were other birds there too- seagulls, pigeons, and black birds.  The seagulls beat out the ravens for the food if it is thrown out.  They are good at swooping down and catching food in mid air.  I learned that when I threw out some pieces of granola bars that I had in the car.  So after that I put the food right by the ravens on the ground so that they could get it easily.  I had a nice conversation with the retired man and told him about the Nature show on PBS on Ravens- The Smartest Birds.  We had just seen it in the hotel one night.  At the end of the raven program- a man who was interviewed said- Once you become aware of ravens- you are hooked for life.  I believe it- because where ever I go I am aware of the sky and am scanning for ravens whether I am aware of it or not.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hillside Happenings

The fog has been so thick around the house the last couple of days that it appears we are living in a cloud.  Yesterday morning I looked out and the fog was swirling about.  It must be in honor of the new Sherlock Holmes movie that is coming out on Dec. 25th.  We are going to see it on the 26th- of course.  As I was peering through the fog- what do I see but two ravens winging their way toward me through the fog.  I have to say that this was an eerie sight and the sound of the wings beating completed the phantasmagorical apparition.  It was exactly 7:30 AM.  How do the ravens do it?  Do they have miniature Piagets?
It was a day of leftover roast beef and a hunk of crisco= yum!  When I ran out of those treats, I put out the doggie crunchies- that is the signal that no more good stuff is in the offing. They had a few crunchies and departed for better prospects.
It is still early this morning and the great horned owls are out and about doing their hooting.  Last night they were hooting so much that I went out and hooted with them.  They call back to my hoots which is such a HOOT for me. Nature is a wonderful thing. 
Our good neighbors have lost their beloved orange cat Max.  The night before I looked out the kitchen door and saw a tail just around the edge of the drape.  I couldn't figure out what it was so I took a better look- it was an orange cat come to eat some of the doggie crunchies that the ravens had left.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  Unfortunatly the cat ran off as soon as it saw me.  I called to it to no avail.  I called the neighbors and they came over and called- to no avail.  I hope they find him soon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ravens to the Christmas Party?

The other day I went to a Christmas party about three miles down the hill.  The ravens were sitting in the redwood trees by the stairs when I went outside to get into my car.  The ravens took flight when I started down the driveway in the car.  I couldn't tell if they were following me, as I believe they were flying overhead.  When I got to the location of the party,  I parked the car and got out and looked up into the sky.  There were two ravens.  They were flying and gliding and swooping and having a great time.  Was it Bold and Shy?  Who can tell.
It has been raining for several days.  The ravens don't like rain much.  They look very disgruntled when they arrive in the morning.  Yesterday they were actually late in coming as it was raining very hard.  For a treat they got roast beef slices since they looked so bedraggled.  They liked the beef and hung around hoping for more.  I have found a way to signal that the raven restaurant is closed for the day.  I put out some dog food kibbles on the deck railing.  That tells them, this is all that is left in the larder for the day.  They don't like the kibbles so much but will deign to accept them if nothing else is forth coming. 
I have read that ravens like shiny objects.  Since this is the season of shiny objects, I think I will put one out each day and see if the ravens bother with them.   Could be a fun experiment.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hungry Hungry Ravens

With the weather turning so cold the raven's appetites have ratcheted up.  The thermometer has been sitting at 30 degrees and the ravens have been sitting in the redwood trees awaiting food delivery service- that would be me!  They have staying near the house the last two very cold days as I suppose it is easier to look sad for me and get food then flying around looking for an elusvie food source!  There have been alot of dead gray squirrels on the road lately but I do not see a raven feeding on them.  I wonder why.  I don't understand squirrels- they often run toward the car when frightened instead of running away from the danger.  Of course they don't have a big brain like ravens do.
The special cold weather treat for ravens has been manteca- lard on bread.  Boy do they love that!  Fat is what they like plus the usual raw chicken eggs.  I have to watch them now when they pick up their eggs.  If they are headed toward the roof I do my manic act, jump up and down and yell.  They don't like that very much and fly off in a huff- too bad for bad ravens. 
I refilled the hummingbird feeders and they have been a very busy local.  There are still some red salvia flowers blooming, but not many.  The hummers really like the red tubular flowers. The hummers need a little hit of sugar from the feeders first thing in the morning and then just before dusk.  The rest of the time they appear to be out and about looking for natural food.  There is a little Western Wood Peewee that makes a lot of racket everytime I go out to the woodpile for a stick of wood. I wonder what he is on about.  Isn't nature grand?

Monday, December 7, 2009

It did SNOW!

Got up this morning and looked out.  It did snow last night as predicted.  There was a light dusting here and there but none on the driveway.  This is very good as we can't get out of here if our very steep driveway is icy.  The thermometer is sitting at 32 degrees. 
Nevermind- the ravens arrived right on the dot of 7:30 AM looking very expectant.  Did they know I was saving the ham bone for a special day?  I put out the bone and Bold was on it in a New York minute.  Bold tried to pick it up and fly away with it but it was too heavy.  Bold was content to pick pieces of meat and fat off the bone and then fly away with a loaded bill.  Next came Shy for a treat.  The next time I looked out- the bone was GONE!  I suppose Bold got the bone down to a size where it was light enough to pick up and fly off with it.  The ravens are always a bit nervous when I put out a big piece of food like the ham bone because the ever vigilant buzzards are about in the sky.  They fly over the house several times a day to see if I have put out any food worthy of their bother.  It is a restaurant out there.  Keep warm!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


The weather forecast is for snow at 500 feet in the western hills.  At 1400 feet we are expecting snow by morning.  What will the ravens do?  Will they arrive at 7:30 AM as usual?

This morning the ravens were present and accounted for plus one!  The raven pair were perched in the redwood tree calling my name sweetly at 7:25 AM.  Then- a tremendous ruckous started up!  I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter and it wasn't Dasher or Dancer- it was a lone raven flying overhead. The raven pair flew off in a hurry to dissuade said intruder from hanging about in their valley.  They will return in good time for their morning snack.  Meanwhile the sky is turning dark as we await what nature will bring us in the next 24 hours.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Wind Storm

The last two days have been very windy.  The power was out in many parts of Napa.  The raven pair arrived right on time for their morning treat but appeared to be very disgruntled.  Their feathers were all askew from the wind.   I placed  two raw chicken eggs far apart on the ground.  This was done because the day before I had placed the chicken eggs close together on the ground and Bold came down and poked a hole in each one.  This precluded Shy from picking up one of the eggs and flying off with it to eat it in peace.  Bold had demonstrated one of raven's primary characteristics- GREED!!
This morning the treat was a slice of french bread with a raw piece of bacon on top.  I had heard Bold arrive as he was making his little raven sounds so I went downstairs and outside to look at him.  He was looking mighty fine.  I could hear another raven in the distance and shortly after Shy flew in to alight in the redwood tree.  I decided to place the pieces of bread at some distance from each other along the deck rail to preclude Greedy Bold from getting both pieces.  Bold flew down and picked up the piece of bread and the bacon and flew up to the favored tree stump to eat.  This left Shy looking bereft in the tree.  Soon enough Bold picked up what was left of the prize and flew off with it.  Now- would Shy see the other piece of bread on the deck rail?  Shy did and flew down and got the morning treat.  I was pleased.
I just finished a book- Sky Burial by XINRAN.  It is a love story that centers on a lost love and a Tibetan funeral rite called Sky Burial.  In this rite the body is dismembered with knives and left under the sky for the sacred birds- vultures to eat the flesh and carry the body skyward to be with the spirits and enter heaven.  There must not be any ravens in Tibet or I am sure they would get in on this funeral rite.  It is interesting how different cultures can view the same occurence so differently- ie European perceptions vs. Tibetan of carrion bird activities.  Perhaps when I die I should just be laid out on Mt. Veeder to serve as raven food.  Recycling, no?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ravens in the fairy trees

The ravens arrived right on time this morning. Bold was sitting on his favorite branch watching me while I prepared my tea in the kitchen.  This morning they were served two raw chicken eggs and the tuna fish that Andy the cat did not eat last night.  They really liked the tuna.  After eating, they flew away and landed  in the fairy trees.  They really like to sit in these two trees.  This morning they were preening each other's neck feathers while resting in the trees.  The fairy trees are two native oak trees.  These trees were completely obscured by rangy fir and bay trees when we first moved here.  After clearing the hillside of the brush, the two oak trees were discovered.  In the ensuing years the trees have regained their vigor and have grown toward one another.  The two trees are bent from being in competition for light for so many years.  The main trunks and branches cross over one another to make what looks like an arch- this truly must be where the fairies live.  It is a lovely spot and favored by the ravens.  I look upon the fairy trees in all seasons and appreciate their tenacity.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shy makes her move!

The ravens were hanging out in the Raven Creek valley all day yesterday.  Their off site food supply that had kept them occupied and elsewhere must be exhausted.  So- they are BACK!!!  I was going in and out of the house all day- bringing in groceries- taking books out to the car for the library book sale- poking about in general and I had two ravens observing my every move.  Darn if they aren't nosey parkers!  In the afternoon I was cleaning out the refrigerator and found some old bacon slices- perfect raven food- lots of FAT!    I put the bacon out on the deck railing in two distinct piles in hopes that Shy would get some of the bacon.  But NO- Bold came down and gathered up all the bacon slices- stuffing them all in his beak.  Bold looked quite comical with bacon slices hanging down in all directions out of his beak.  He took his stash up to the top of a cut off redwood tree where he put some down and began to eat the rest.  I was watching Shy.  I could tell Shy was getting quite agitated.  All at once Shy flew up to the bacon banquet and grab several pieces of bacon in the beak and flew off!!  Good for Shy!!  Enough is enough!!  Of course ravens are the greedy gusses of the corvid world- can't be helped- but it was very entertaining to see Bold get the snatch put on his private stash of bacon. 

The ravens just arrived for their morning snack, two raw chicken eggs and salmon scraps.   It is 7:18 AM- right on time- actually a little early- how do they tell time without a Timex? 

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I just discovered to my horror that the collective noun for a group of ravens is an UNKINDNESS.  The collective noun for a group of crows is a murder.  Who came up with these UNKIND terms??  It must be a European thing from the time of the black death- with so many corpses around the crows and ravens had much to eat much to the horror of the people.  Nature's recyclers.  
We had a large group of juvenile ravens fly in last night and pick the big redwood tree next to the new deck for their nightly roost.  It is so marvelous to watch- birds flying in from all directions- choosing one tree and then another- flying to and fro until they settle on one particular tree.  Once they decide on a tree, they all settle in and quiet down.  At that point ,between the darkness of the interior of the tree and the night falling it is impossible to see the birds.  I however know they are there and am very pleased indeed.  This morning I went to the window to see them fly out into the world, but missed them- got up a little too late.  I hope they will return one day.  One never knows how they chose their nightly tree refuge.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bodega Bay Ravens- Ravens all around

We were gone for a few days to Bodega Bay and of course I was on the look out for my favorite birds.  Down at Doran Beach I heard the raven call!  There was a pair of ravens in the stand of big dark pine trees near the parking lot.   The beach was separated from the trees by a sand dune which was about 50 wide.  The ravens were difficult to see because the trees were so thick and dark.  Once my eyes got used to looking at the trees I could finally see the two ravens sitting close together doing their canoodling thing.  I decided to see if I could get them to come down to the ground so that I could get a better look at them.  There were some oatmeal raisin cookies in the car so I went and got two cookies.  As I was walking back to the stand of trees, I was surrounded by seagulls.  They were no dummies= they saw food in my hand and wanted it very badly.  As soon as I passed from the beach, over the sand dune to the area under the trees- the seagulls disappeared.  The distance was very short but the seagulls would not go near the trees.  It was very interesting that despite their desire for the food, they would not go near the trees. 
The raven pair watched my approach.  I held the cookies up over my head so that they could see them clearly.  I then placed them on the ground and backed away to see what they would do.  One raven came down immediatly to check it out.  He did the look at it- jump forward- jump back to see if it was alive- look it over but I never saw the bird pick the cookie up.  I stood over by the parking lot for sometime watching the ravens. The first raven down then flew back up in the trees.  The second raven began its approach- jumping from higher branch to lower branch all the time keeping an eye on me. I was distracted by a man with 2 bigs dogs and when I looked back both ravens were in the tree.  At this point I walked back over to where I put the cookies and they were both GONE!  So the ravens got the cookies when I wasn't looking!!   It was fun to have a raven adventure away from home.
 Bold and Shy should be arriving this morning at 7:30 AM  by the clock and will probably be disgusted since I have been gone and no food appeared for a couple of days.   The ravens don't care about that- they come at the same hour as always and are ready to see what is on the menu today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ravens All Around

Yesterday morning the ravens came at their usual time- 6:30 AM- to see what treat I had in store for their culinary pleasure.  I put out two eggs for the first time in a week.  This time I put the eggs on the ground at the end of the path near the door instead of in the flower box on the deck railing.   Both ravens were sitting in the redwood tree watching me as I walked along the path with the eggs held over my head.  I called to them- here are your eggs ravens and if you take them up on the roof to eat them you are in BIG trouble!  Bold was the first to pick up an egg and fly off down the valley- then Shy picked one up and followed Bold down the valley.  So they got the hint-  smart ravens!!  They are such a sight- flying with a chicken egg in their beaks!  I never tire of seeing them pick up an egg and fly off with it.

Later that morning we went downtown to see the high school band review.  Thirty high school bands from Northern California were strutting their stuff on the streets of Old Napa Town.  We sat near the band stand review station so that we could see them perform.  It was quite a sight and we liked the Fairfield High band with the bagpipes the best- however my alma mater- Napa High School wasn't too shabby!  But hark- what did I hear but a RAVEN call amid all the band sounds.  I looked up and there was a raven perched on top of a very large tree in front of the old court house!

About two years ago we were having lunch downtown and noticed a pair of ravens flying in and out of this very same tree.  On further inspection we could see a nest near the top of this tree.  The ravens were flying in and out of the tree- bringing food to their babies.  So it seems there is a resident raven pair in downtown Napa who have alot of RAVEN FUN watching the human antics on the streets of Old Napa Town!

No matter where I go in my travels, my ear is tuned to the sound of the raven call.   It does my heart good to know that these birds are able to survive in so many different environments and that there are Ravens All Around!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The ravens have been very naughty.  They have been eating their eggs on the roof.  This is not allowed as we have a membrane roof and a sharp raven beak could poke a hole in it.  So we have been yelling at them to get off the roof!  They do not like to be yelled at- loud noises bother them.  As a result of all the yelling they have become skitterish especially when they see my husband.  But never mind they come every morning at the regular time to see what is up.  No more eggs for them for awhile.  This morning the raven restaurant was serving chicken remains- chicken fat and the remains of a baked chicken- yum for them.  There is always a danger when I put out a large treat that the buzzard will see it and come down and get it.  The buzzard patrols the skies above the house on a regular basis to see what is going on.  He has never forgotten the day that I threw the turkey remains out the door - what a treat- and Bold raven was out of luck on that one.  Two buzzards had a Thanksgiving feast.  Bold is out there in the tree making all kinds of raven sounds- Bold sounds very happy today sans eggs- chicken will do.  We have had a helicopter flying overhead rather a lot lately.  I think raven tries to imitate the sound even though he does not like loud noises- why do we have a helicopter up here I ask?  Looking for marijuana I expect.  Life on the mountain is never dull.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I put out the raven food yesterday morning and had no takers.  What in the world was going on?  I then went out on the deck to enjoy the nice weather and suddenly I heard it- raven racket.  Lots of noise and scolding and flying about.  There were 4 ravens in the valley.  Bold and Shy were not happy with the intruders and wanted them OUT- go away- get a new plan Stan- remove thyselves!!  This racket went on for sometime.  In the afternoon Bold and Shy returned to the redwood trees and got their food.  They were very quietly sitting on the tree branch as if nothing had transpired.  Peace in the valley had returned with Bold and Shy retaining their territory- banishing the upstart ravens! 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Picky Eaters

Yesterday was a first.  The ravens came in the morning as usual but made very little noise.  They were out there in the redwood trees making their soft little sounds to each other and preening each others feathers.  I got up to get my tea and to put some food out on the deck rail.  I put out an egg, 5 bread slices, some dry dog food and a piece of beef- what a raven feast!  They just looked at the food and did not come down to get any of it.  So I went away.  When I came back they had flown off with 2 pieces of bread and that was all- they did not take the meat!  This was unprecedented!!  Seems they were full of food from some other source and were not very hungry.  When raven finds a great food source they will eat as much as possible until they can barely fly.  No wonder they spent most of the day sitting in the trees watching what I was doing. 

It must be hunting season right now as I have heard a number of gunshots lately.  Perhaps a hunter has left a food source behind that the ravens like.  We also have the remains of a deer on our property that would be raven food.  There are always dead gray squirrels on the road also- why the squirrels run across the road and toward the cars is a mystery to me!  So raven has plenty to eat- no wonder they are so big and beautiful.

Yesterday afternoon we took a ride down the mountain to sit in the sun by the Napa River and watch the fish jump.  A block down from our house is a open field by an old house.  It was full of juvenile ravens all pecking around in the new grass looking for something to eat.  I wonder if ravens eat ladybugs?  The lady bugs have arrived.  They come every fall and winter over in a sunny spot near the creek.  There are thousands of them and they appear to like the color white.  If you walk over to where they are located with a pair of white socks on- you will soon have a zillion ladybugs on your socks.  One of the curiosities of nature.  We have some white chairs near their wintering spot and they like to get on those as well.  We saw a program on California's Gold on the subject of wintering ladybugs.   Ladybugs like a sunny spot by a water source so the location they have chosen on our property is just right.  The program was about a man who knows where a large group of ladybugs winters and he goes and gets them and puts them in gunny sacks and sells them to nurseries.  So many of them die in the process.  The ladybugs on our property are left undistured.  I have never seen the ravens over where the ladybugs winter, so the well feed ravens do not appear to feast on ladybugs.  I am glad.

This morning the ravens were anxious to see me.   All the food which had been left on the railing from yesterday was gone before the ravens arrived.  The resident raccoon or gray fox had cleaned up during the night.  This morning we had steak bones and scraps for the ravens and they were on them in a New York minute.  So we are back to normal today.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What a BIG beak you have!

Yesterday dawned cold and very windy.  The ravens were quietly sitting in the redwood trees when I got up.  They looked disgruntled and their feathers were being blown in every direction by the wind.  I put out the two eggs and some dry dog food and jumped back into the house where it was warm.  They were back after they had eaten their eggs.  Their favorite place to eat eggs is up on the path to the woods.  There is quite a collection of eggs shells on the ground there.  They looked so forlorn upon their return to the deck that I decided to give them a piece of leftover chicken.  I put the chicken piece out on the deck and Bold came down from the tree to check it out.  I stood on the deck very near him about 4 feet away so that I could watch his antics.  He would jump forward and look at the piece of meat, then jump back, cock his head and look at it as if to see if it was alive- then jump forward again and back until he finally snagged it and flew off.  While all this was going on I had the opportunity to observe his beak and feet at close quarters.  Bold has a mighty big beak and large feet- remember that old childhood rhyme- You're a poet and you show it, your feet are Longfellows?- Bold raven qualifies-  he is a poet!

Later that morning I went out to do some minor work around the property.  The wind was blowing and it was cold.  Both ravens however sat in the tree overhead watching everything that I was doing.  They really are very curious birds and of course there is always the possibility that this human will go upstairs and put out some new snack for their enjoyment!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cacophony of Ravens!

Wow- this morning I woke up to a cacophony of ravens!  There were raven sounds all around.  I went outside at first light to see what was going on.  I could see and hear ravens calling and wings beating from all directions.  There were shrill calls and deep resonating sounds.  It sounded like the resident pair were telling the juveniles- time to GET UP and Clear OUT!  And then it was quiet with only the sound of the hummingbird at the feeder with its wings beating a mile a minute.  What a wonderful early morning experience!

Yesterday morning I was trying to sleep in after a night of frivolity with friends and a bottle of cranberry vodka made by a good friend of mine- ( Mumms' pink champagne/cranberry vodka and a lime slice-wow-only one drink please)!  I hear this tap-tap-tap on my window.  I looked out and Bold had managed to land on the small window ledge and was tapping on the glass with his beak!!!  Get up you lazy human and get me some food now!  Bold or is Edgar Allen?- was in luck as we had some left over snacks from the night before that had not been put away properly- he enjoyed ramaki- remember those from the 1960's, chicken livers wrapped in bacon?  I took them off the cocktail skewers and put them on the deck rail.  He tried to cram as many of them into his beak as possible.  He kept putting some down of the treats and rearranging them in his beak to pack more in.  He got all but one- couldn't quite get them all and then flew off.  Iwonder if he shared with Shy?  Later in the day my husband was practicing his banjo in the garage and the raven pair were in the tree watching him.  They really are such nosey birds!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hanging out with the ravens

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day so I decided to plant bulbs and work on art projects.  The ravens were very interested in what I was doing and hung out most of the day in the redwood tree by the deck.  They really are very nosey- Nosey Parkers!  They watched while I planted daffodil bulbs.  Andy the cat was sleeping on the deck in the sun while I worked.  It was really nice to have animal companionship while I planted bulbs.  The ravens spent much of the time preening their feathers.  At one point Bold raven had all the feathers on his breast and head stuck out at all angles.  He looked quite funny.  They got a couple of pieces of bacon for a treat.  Bold raven does not like to share the bacon treats- he really is a regular piggy!

An aside- it is early and the light is just appearing and I can hear a pygmy owl outside.  I don't hear the pymgy owl very often- usually the great horned owls- nice to hear the pygmy once in awhile.

Last evening as night was falling we saw the juveniles ravens flying in for the night.  There were so many of them flying all around and circling the sky over our forest area.  They would come down and light in one tree, then take off flying again.  It seems like they were trying to choose the perfect tree for the night.  Once they pick a tree- they all fly in and quiet down.  Once they are in the tree you can not tell they are there unless you see some movement.  It is really amazing.  I wonder what our resident pair think of this invasion of their valley?

Another day is dawning in the Napa Valley.  Looks like a beautiful day is shaping up- only 400 bulbs left to plant!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Soaring and Canoodling

Early this morning I looked out toward the Napa Valley and beyond and saw the ravens soaring in the sky.  Sometimes it seems they just like to fly and soar and do barrel rolls- which is a most impressive sight.  I think ravens just like to have fun!  I saw a special on ravens on PBS that showed them sliding down a snowy hillside just for the fun of it!  We don't have snow very often here so they take to the skies for fun.  I could see them soaring and called to them- RAVEN- and before long they arrived in the redwood tree.  Sound carries very far up here.  Sometimes we can hear the whistle of the wine train- which is a long way off.

I had put their two eggs out already but they did not come right down to get them.  Instead they were up in the tree- preening each others feathers and canoodling- is that a word?  They were holding each others beaks and preening each others neck feathers and making soft little sounds.  Seems like canoodling to me.  It is very special to watch another species behave in such a loving manner. 

My friend Rita had a suggestion for Halloween-  I should call the ravens Edgar Allen and his partner Nevermore- clever- don't you think?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Predators all around

October 20, 2009

On Sunday we saw a very healthy coyotte walking along the path  in the oak forest area.  He was walking and sniffing the air.  We definitely need to keep our old kitty in the house.  There were some small birds flying around overhead of the coyote.  His coloration is such that he was hard to see against the backdrop of the fallen oak leaves.  On Sunday evening we saw a very large number of ravens flying into our valley.  They roosted overnight in a big Douglas fir behind the house.  Looks like we have another raven tree for the winter months.  We had one last year in front of the house.  It is a beautiful sight to see all the ravens flying in, then they quiet down and you would not know that there is a raven in the tree unless you see some movement.

Monday it rained all day.  The ravens DO NOT LIKE rain.  They look depressed.  They were late in coming to get their food.  I gave them some bacon to make them happy.  I did not see them the rest of the day.

Today the weather has cleared and Bold raven was here at 8 AM without Shy raven.  He looked in the window at me while I work at the computer.  He got his egg and flew off.  We got some eggs at Costco yesterday- a 24 pack- that should last 12 days- a good deal.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Best Treat

October 18, 2009  

The ravens got their best treat on Friday- chicken fat!  Whenever I cook chicken I cut all the fat off and save it for the ravens.  They love chicken fat and skin- yum!  I have so much less garbage since I made the acquaintance of the ravens.  They like steak fat and steak bones too.  I was gone yesterday so I did not see the ravens and they had no treats.  This morning Mr. Bold Raven tried to land on the little ledge on my window to make sure I saw him.  My bed is right near the ledge with a complete view for the raven and myself.  This was right at 7:30 AM, their new arrival time.  Bold could not quite get a grip on the ledge and was flapping his big wings to try and get some leverage.  This gave me a great view of the beautiful bird and his size relative to other birds.  So I got up and went downstairs to put the eggs out into the flower basket on the deck along with some dry dog food.  Happy ravens today!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The rain has come

October 17, 2009

The rain came on October 14th, right on time.  It usually rains in Napa by October 15th each year.  The ravens really do not like rain.  They did not appear the morning of October 14th because it was raining so hard- the worst storm since 1962.  I left October 14th and returned on the 15th late in the afternoon.  The rain had stopped and as I drove up the driveway the ravens were overhead following me up the driveway.  They were happy? to see me.  They made alot of noise and jumped around in the redwood trees.  I hurried on into the house and got them 2 eggs- they were on those in a NY minute!  They came as usual on the morning of October 16th and got their eggs.  I was working around the house most of the day and they hung around observing my comings and goings and commenting.  Really they are the most nosey of birds.  We noticed alot of ravens flying into our little valley as dusk approached.  I think we are going to have a raven tree like we had last year.  Last year a large group of juveniles flew in each evening and roosted in a very large redwood tree.  Once they all get into the tree, they quiet down and you would not know there was a bird around anywhere.  Then at first light in the morning they would all fly out of the tree in all different directions.  It is a magnificent sight! 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shy Raven Makes A Move

October 9, 2009

The ravens arrived per usual the morning of October 8th at 7:30 AM.  I went downstairs and put the two eggs out on the deck.  For some reason Bold raven flew off making a lot of noise.  I watched Shy raven for awhile.  Shy was sitting in the redwood tree and then she came down to the deck railing and began inspecting the eggs.  The raven jumped around awhile and finally grabbed one in its beak and flew off!  WOW- Shy can do it! 

This morning I heard the raven sounds so I went down and put the two eggs out.  When I looked in the redwood tree there was only one raven present.  It was Shy who came down and grabbed an egg and flew off.  I wonder where Bold Raven is this morning?  I put out some dry dog food and the jays were down in a minute to get some.  I observed that they also jump forward and back when inspecting new food just like the ravens do.  They are greedy also, stuffing as many pieces of dry dog food into their beaks as possible before flying off.  This saves energy and trips back and forth I suppose.  Conservation of energy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Tell Tale Wing

October 7, 2009

I can finally tell the raven pair apart.  Bold raven has a white spot on one of his wings.  He must have gotten into some white paint or some other substance.  This morning the jays arrived before the ravens and were calling for some dry dog food so I went and put some out on the railing- about one NY minute later the ravens arrived and the jays departed with a disgusted squack.  So I put the 2 eggs out and got back into bed where I can see the ravens.  Bold raven came down to the rail per usual and did his jumping around- jump forward and look at the egg and then jump back in case the egg was going to attack- then jump forward pick it up, adjust it in his mouth and then flew off with it.  Shy raven followed with a squack.  They went over to the forest path where Bold raven proceeded to eat almost the whole egg before Shy got any.  They then flew off probably to FS' compost pile.  They love to dig around in that.  They will be back for egg number 2 before long.  All God's creatures are getting ready for winter.  We were taking some logs off the wood pile and found a pile of acorns and shredded redwood bark threads in amongst the logs.  We moved the stash a small distance so that the squirrel? rat? could find it.  The acorns were very big so I don't think a mouse could move those easily.  Fall is definitely here- a little chill in the air in the mornings then the sun comes out.  It usually rains by October 15th each year- we always are glad to see the first rain as it reduces the fire danger.  Raven however does not like rain.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's the cheese

Boy do  ravens like cheese. They really like it when I clean out the refrigerator and find pieces of old cheese past its prime.  Yesterday morning I decided to do the dirty deed and clean out the cheese drawer.  All the old pieces went out on the deck railing.  I hadn't seen the ravens for a few hours but I know that they cruise overhead periodically to see it I have put out any tasty morsels.  They both came down to take a look when they spotted the CHEESE.  What is their favorite cheese?  It appears the soft cheeses go first and then the firm cheeses.  The winner was St. Andre, of course.
This morning I was tired because of working at the Harvest Festival from 2-8PM. So I didn't wake up until 7:30 AM! and the ravens was sitting outside the window as quiet as you please.  Must be they wanted more cheese!  Well no more cheese, we are back to dry dog food and 2 eggs.  Bold raven came down and was a real show off this morning- doing his ruffled feather routine and much bowing-then started gobbling the dog food.  This did not please the raven in the tree who started making all kinds of racket.  So Bold raven picked up an egg and flew off with it, followed by the other raven.  Then, cousin blue jay (Stellars) showed up to claim some dog food.  The Stellars and and Scrub jays both really like the dog food and watch in the trees until the ravens have departed, then come down to claim some of Old Roy's special dry food!  It is a restaurant out there.  It has turned cold= 48 degrees this morning- frost is expected tonight in the valley and the wind fans will go on since the grape crop- cabernet is not in yet.  We can hear the fans since sound travels so far- no fans up here as we do not seem to get frost.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The early morning magic

The early morning before the light comes up is a very magical time.  One can imagine the fairies just going to bed.  At 5:30 AM it was still dark and I could hear the call of two great horned owls up in the woods behind the house.  They were calling back and forth to each other, seems many species enjoy the Raven Haven canyon.  At very first light I heard the call of the ravens- up for another day of adventure.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another day in raven paradise

The sun is coming up much later now that fall is here.  The ravens did not appear at my window until 7:30 AM this morning, which is late for them.  The light is taking a much longer time to come up and the ravens do not go out of their redwood tree and until first light.  This gives me more time to sleep in.  Bold raven was very quiet this morning, very polite with his racket.   I went downstairs and put out their two eggs.  He came down to the deck railing picked up one and flew off.  I saw him on the forest path eating the egg with Shy raven watching him.  Then he went and got the other egg and shared it with Shy raven.  They flew off.  I have seen them flitting about the trees today but they have been very quiet today, must be the fall weather.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall is here

Fall has finally arrived after several days of extreme heat.  The ravens are happy.  When it is hot they sit in the redwood trees with their beaks full open to try and cool down.  It is like panting raven style. So the birds and the humans are happy that the cooler weather has arrived.  This morning we had steak scraps for the ravens- yum-their favorite!  I can tell when they are pleased with the food choice as Bold Raven sits on the branch above the deck railing where I place the food and he does his puffing up routine.  He fluffs up the feathers on the top of his head, extends his wings slightly and bows his head up and down with quite the show.  Whenever he approaches a new food, he jumps from the tree branch to the top of a tree stump, then to the deck railing.  Then he looks at the food moving his head side to side.  Then he jumps forward and looks at it, then jumps back, does this a couple of times, then grabs the biggest piece and flies off with it. On his second trip to the food he just flies down and tries to stuff as many pieces of the meat into his mouth as possible and that it alot!  I never tire of watching the ravens and their antics.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The start of the adventure with ravens

October 1, 2009

Today is the first day of a new month and the start of a new adventure, the recording of my adventures with a wild raven pair who live in the wooded hills above the Napa Valley.

The adventure started about four years ago. I had a couple of old chicken eggs in the refrigerator and I did not want to just throw them out since some creature could eat them. So I put them out on the ground outside my kitchen door. Imagine my surprise when a BIG black bird landed on the ground near the eggs, picked one up is his beak and flew off!! He came back a little while later and picked up the other egg and flew off with it. I couldn't believe my eyes- the strength of this bird! Being a backyard birder most of my life- I thought it was a raven but went and checked my Peterson Bird Guide and sure enough a raven it was! WOW WOW- I was excited. So the next day I put out another egg and sure enough the raven came and picked it up and flew away with it. This singular event started my daily adventure with the raven pair that live in the un-named canyon, along the un-named creek on the USGS map in the hills above the Napa Valley.
I call my raven pair- Bold Raven and Shy Raven and sometimes I call Bold Raven Mr. Cuervo- but when I want to call them I just stand on the deck and yell RAVEN and if they are in the vicinity they come and take a look to see what the crazy human is yelling about. The ravens arrive at my bedroom window at 6:30 AM each morning and sit on a little tree branch so that they can see in the window. They are very polite at first- making their little cooing noises to each other- but- if I don't get up and take a look that start up with the raven racket! So I get up and get my cup of tea and give the ravens their morning treat. This is usually 2 chicken eggs or some dry dog food. I keep an 18 pack of eggs in the refrigerator and a bad of dry dog food handy most of the time. This is cool- wild pets who come everyday and I don't have to walk them!

What I love about the ravens is that you know there is a thinking being of another species looking at you. They know me and I have learned to really appreciate their intelligence and their spirit of fun and adventure. So this blog is about adventures with the wild ravens and observations of their daily activities that I can see from my house located in a small canyon/creek setting in the redwood and Douglas fir forest.