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.