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.