Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chuck sees a Raven

Chuck was laying in the back yard in the sun the other day when a raven flew right over him.  The raven had something in it's beak.  Oh so exciting!  I keep hoping a raven will see the chicken egg in the platform feeder.  So far no takers.  Every morning I put some peanuts in the shell into the platform feeder with the egg. The blue jays appear like magic!  This morning it is cold and rainy.  I looked out and there were two disgruntled looking blue jays sitting on the fence near the feeder.  They looked mighty unhappy.  I went out and put the peanuts in the tray and they were on those nuts in a New York minute!  I have to believe it improved their mood.
Yesterday I went up to Mt. Veeder to feed the ravens.  It was cold, foggy, and raining.  I noticed the power was out and there were many PG&E trucks around.  Just another fall/winter day on Mt. Veeder!  As I approached the raven territory, the fog drifted to ground level.  Oh darn- the ravens dislike fog and rain and tend to be quiet and not fly about in this weather.  I parked and got out of the car.  I could hear no raven sounds at all and could see little in the fog.  I called RAVEN several times, but no response.  So I left the food in a spot near their redwood tree and headed for home and the warmth of my remote controlled gas fireplace!  It is not as lovely as a wood fire but it sure is a whole lot easier to start and no logs to handle.  I do marvel at the beauty of Mt. Veeder everytime I go up there- only 9 miles from town but a place apart.  When I am sad about moving- I know I can always go up there and be with the ravens and redwood trees in 20 minutes or less.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Racket

Yesterday I heard a bunch of crow racket outside. I had put out some peanuts on the driveway so I went out to see if this was the cause of the cacophony.  I looked up and there were many crows swirling around above my head but HARK- there was a raven in the middle of the crow convergence.  I could see his wedged tail- then he croaked- a raven for sure.  It appears that this is crow country and ravens are not welcome.  I am going to have to overcome this situation somehow.  Just when I saw a raven- I had run out of eggs.   I had used every last one to make muffins.  So it is off to the store for more eggs.   It truly may be possible to attract a raven.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ravens and the Double Rainbow

The other day we were out driving around in the vineyards.  It was threatening to rain however there was sunshine where we were located.  It looked like it was raining hard in the distance.  As we got closer to the rain, a double rainbow appeared.  Wow!  You don't see that very often.  Two complete rainbows.  As we drove closer we could see where the lower rainbow of the two appeared to touch the ground.  As we got closer still the rainbow seemed to touch down in a vineyard.  The colors were so bright and beautiful and just about this time- two ravens flew across the rainbow.  I REALLY wish I had a camera at that moment.  It was a very special sight.  Something to remember always.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Raven Fun at the Beach

Off we went to Bodega Bay for three days to enjoy the ocean and look for ravens, of course.  While over there, we visited a state beach called Goat Rock along the Sonoma Coast.    It is steep drive down the hillside to the parking area next to Goat Rock.  Goat Rock is quite large and sticks out from the steep hillside.  It must have been MY day because there were a pair of ravens flying around the rock area.  There were also quite a few sea gulls in the area.  I had come equipped with hunks of sour dough french bread and nuts of various kinds for the ravens.   On my first try to feed the ravens, the sea gulls immediately came swooping down and got all the food.  The ravens just don't compete with the sea gulls- much like the crows and the bluejays.  They will fly at the sea gulls to try and get them away from the food, but meanwhile another sea gull flies in and gets the food.  What to do, what to do.  There was a big rock about 10 feet tall near the cliff where the ravens were perched.  So with stealth ( oh yeah) I sneaked around the back of the rock which faced the ravens and stuck hunks of food in some rock crevices.  I then slowly sauntered away from the rock and then watched the ravens.  They came down and got the food without attracting the sea gulls.  This worked two more times and then the sea gulls got wise.  They started sitting on top of the rock and that was the end of my subterfuge.  Well I did have some fun with the ravens of Goat Rock.

The next day we went to Doran Beach to look up the raven pair that live there.  As soon as we drove in the campground we saw the raven pair flying over the dune area near the ranger shack.  They were headquartered in some big conifer trees by the entrance road, the ravens NOT the rangers!  I thought, how am I going to attract their attention?   So I decided to lay a sesame cracker trail.  I put crackers on the sign posts which were located down the side of the road.  I also held some up over my head as I walked.  All the while- I was yelling RAVENS!  The ravens were sitting together in the tree watching this performance.  Ravens are very nosy and were probably enjoying this strange human behavior.  I dropped some crackers on the ground also and then walked a distance away to watch.  The ravens flew back and forth over the food sources, coming down and then flying up.  They finally landed near some of the crackers and nuts on the ground.  They did the usual raven thing, jump forward and then jump back- to see if the food was alive.  They finally picked up some of the crackers and flew off.  After the third trip of picking up food- oh no- the seagulls caught on and tried to take the food away from the ravens while in flight.  It is a jungle out there!!!  All and all it was a great trip to Bodega Bay.  Some rain and some sun and a great place to eat at River's End in Jenner by the Sea.  I highly recommend it.
When I got home I checked my feeding station on the pole.  Something had eaten the egg and left part of the shell.  Hum- who did that?  A crow or a blue jay?  A raven might have done it but they usually pick up the egg and fly off with it.  One can only hope it was a raven.  I will put another egg out today and see what happens.  I have a squirrel baffle on the pole so that squirrels and raccoons cannot get up to the platform feeder.  So I am still on a raven watch at Crystal Court.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


,I went on line to find a platform feeder, pole and squirrel guard to implement my plan to attrack a raven.  The goods arrived and Chuck put up the new feeder.  We placed it in the back yard in view of a number of very large trees.  Birds do sit on the top of these trees and can see into our yard very easily.  The first day I put out peanuts in the shell and one raw chicken egg into the platform feeder.  The next day, the peanuts were all gone but the egg remained.  I put out some more peanuts- same result.  The next day Chuck saw and heard a pair of ravens flying overhead.  He was sitting in the backyard reading when they flew over- so there are ravens in the neighborhood.  They were flying fairly high and fast- in a hurry to go somewhere.  So I will be patient?? 
When I lived on Mt. Veeder I put an old chicken egg from the refrigerator out on the ground.  I thought some critter will eat it.  I was looking out the window and saw a raven come down and pick up the egg and fly off with it.  That was my first aquaintance with the wonderful raven.  I think I need to do a dance/incantation or something to bring a raven down to check out the egg at our new locale.  Any suggestions???
Last Sunday there was a great show on Nature called a Murder of Crows.  It was a great show but NOT as neat as the show they did on Ravens- but then I am prejudiced.  I do have my band of crows coming each morning for peanuts.  They are funny birds.  I think they are getting used to me and know that I am the purveyor of peanuts.  The Nature show described how crows do recognize human faces.  They did some experiments to show that was true. So I may be known to a whole murder of crows in the near future! I don't put the nuts out until I hear the crows out front.  If I put them out too early, then the blue jays get all the peanuts.  The bluejays are much more aggressive at retrieving the nuts.  All those corvids are just the bees knees- aren't they??

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finding Raven

We finally took the time to walk over to the open space across the way from our culsdesac- looking for a raven.  This open area includes vineyards, public walking trails and a dog park.  While we were walking by the vineyards we saw a raven doing barrel rolls and then dive head first into the vines.  WOW!  That was some display.  There was a lone raven sitting atop of very large tree croaking for all he was worth.  I love that sound and was so happy to hear the ravens in the vineyard.  Now the deal is- how do I get one of those bad boys to come over to my house?  So I went in search of an open top platform bird feeder that I could place in my yard.  I could then place an egg or two on the platform and hope that a raven will see it.  We do see ravens flying overhead sometimes.  They are flying at quite a height and seem intent on going somewhere.  I did find the perfect platform feeder but could not find a pole to attach it to in the whole town of Napa.  I may have to buy a broom and remove the handle for this purpose.  I am excited about this experiment.
Several of my friends have suggested that I drive up to Mt. Veeder and put eggs on the top of my car, wait for the ravens, and then drive down the hill, bringing the ravens with me.  Somehow I don't think this would work.  Would it?
One of the artists that live up on Mt. Veeder painted me a BEAUTIFUL Pennsylvania Dutch style hex sign with three ravens around an egg.  We mounted it on our porch and it looks lovely.  Every time I go in or out of the front door I see the painting.  Lovely!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ravens in Yosemite

This past week we visited Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake and Yosemite.  Mono Lake was very interesting with the tufas- limestone structures formed underwater.  They are now sticking out of the water due to the large amount of inflow water to the lake which had been diverted to Los Angeles.  The inflow of water to the lake has now been partially restored, however it will take 25 years for the water level to reach the 1965 lake water level.  Mono Lake was the subject of a very large law suit against the Los Angeles Water District- do you remember all the bumper stickers in the 1980's- SAVE MONO LAKE?  I am so glad they saved it. Kudos to Audubon Society and others.

As we entered Yosemite National Park a pair of ravens flew overhead.  That was a very good sign for our vacation.  We also saw ravens flying in the high country up at 9998 feet- so they are everywhere.  I do hope they go down into the valley in winter where food would be more available.    On our return trip through Yosemite National Park we stopped at the park gate to show our park pass.  (By the way- if you are 62 years old you can get a park pass for $10 that is valid in any National Park.  It is good until you kick off- a really good deal.)  At the gate were two very large and sassy ravens.  One was on the roof of the ranger building and the other was on the ground by our car.  A ranger came along and I told her I was admiring the raven pair.  She told us that they stay there all year and the one on the ground is called Bird Dog.  They looked very well fed and up to no good!

We are continuing to watch Raven Tales on the Smithsonian Channel.  These tales are based on indian stories from the First Nation people of the Pacific Northwest.  We are really enjoying these tales and raven is the trickster.  He is lazy and up to something!

I have commissioned a raven hex sign for the space above the garage door.  Kathy, who is a very talented painter, is going to design a raven hex sign for us.  I am very excited about this.  My Pennsylvania Dutch relatives in Lancaster County, PA, had these hex signs on their barns when I was a child..  I always admired them and now I will have one to keep the evil spirits away!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I found a program on the Smithsonian Channel on the television called "Raven Tales".  What a FIND!  They are animated tales of Haida First Nation People of British Columbia.  Raven and Eagle live in the village with the Haida people and interact with them on a daily basis.  Raven is pictured as scheming, lazy, gluttonous and always up to some tricks, but not mean.  And Raven likes to have fun.  The program is so cute and fun- check it out on the Smithsonian Channel.
I had a booth at the craft fair in Napa yesterday.  I was located right under a tree where a pair of downtown ravens have a nest.  I have seen them flying in and out of that tree when there have been young ravens in the nest.  No one in the nest at the present but the ravens were flying around over head all day.  Good company.
I hear noisy crow cawing outside the window at the squirrel who is absconding with the peanuts I put out for crow.  He sounds very upset.  I think I will go take a look.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Could I Learn to Love a CROW?

I have seen nary a raven at my new location except for one raven flying overhead.  The raven was flying very high and fast- going somewhere but NOT here.  I do however have a band of noisy crows.  I noticed these crows stalking around as soon as I moved in.  They come in the morning and stalk around the yards of all the houses on the court looking for food.  So I went off and bought two gigantic bags of peanuts.  We now have a morning routine.  When I wake up I go outside and put the peanuts under the redwood trees with one raw chicken egg.  The scrub jays show up immediately to grab as many peanuts as they can before the crows know what is happening.  The crows are very cautious.  They sit in the trees looking at the peanuts for awhile before they fly down to get the food.  Meanwhile the jays are busy at work getting as many peanuts as possible before the crows make their move.  Eventually the crows fly down one by one to claim a peanut or two.  By this time most of the nuts are gone.  It is fun to watch the crows as they have many of the same mannerisms as their big cousins.  They land on the ground, then they jump forward toward the food- then jump back- forward and back until they grab a peanut.  The jays will not come down once the crows are on the ground.  At this point I go out and replenish the peanut supply so that the crows get their share of the morning's booty.  The crows will peck and eat the egg once the nuts are all gone.
The other day I was out working in front yard planting an angle's trumpet (datura) and I heard what sounded like a high pitched knocking sound.   I looked up and it was a crow.  I didn't know they made such a sound!  He was looking at me and knocking- wow!  I might like crows yet!  But love- hum- after raven there is no other.
Apparently Lindsey Wildlife Rescue has a juvenile blind raven who is looking for a long term home.  Ah wouldn't it be wonderful to have a raven in your life?  It apparently will go to a home out of state.  It is very difficult to keep a wild animal in California, as is everything in California.  One has to get a special PERMIT- oh could take years to get one I am sure.  Anyhow- someone will have a special bird in their life.  Apparently the bird is friendly and is hand fed.  I hope whoever gets the bird is young as they live a good 35 years.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wildlife Day

Yesterday we decided to go to Bodega Bay after fiddle lessons.  It was a beautiful day at Bodega, clear and warm- quite unusual.  There were big signs up in the town- Tippi Hedron coming in Sept.  Do you remember the Hitchcock movie "The Birds"?  It was filmed in Bodega.  Tippi must be in her 80's by now since that movie came out in the 1960's.  Now that movie made black birds out to be terrible or so I heard.  I never saw the movie because I like BLACK birds.  So much for Hitchcock and Tippi.
We had lunch at the Tides Restaurant and got to watch the sea lions feeding right outside the window.   It was so much fun.  The sea lion would dive and get a fish.  Then up they would come and throw the fish up in the air and catch it to take a bite.  Meanwhile the seagulls who are very canny indeed would dive at the fish just as it was being thrown into the air.  It was quite wonderful to watch this sea theater right before our eyes.

After lunch we went up to Bodega Head.  On the way up we saw a great number of white pelicans.  They are so beautiful to watch when they are in the air.  They look like great flying ships.  It was low tide and they were congregating on the tidal flats.  Birds of a feather truly do flock together.  It was a beautiful day on Bodega Head and there were lots of people up there looking out to sea.  As it turned out there was a pod of whales passing by the head at very close range.  We saw at least 20 whales passing by 2 by 2.  They were going north which is very odd at this time of year.  I have never seen so many whales at close range along the California coast.  Only in Baja California have I seen more whales at one time.  It was a great spectacle of nature and we were very lucky to have the opportunity to see these wonderful creatures.

On the way home we saw a great flock of black birds flying over an open field and some were on the ground.  There were at least 50 birds and they were RAVENS!  It appeared to be a band of juveniles.  Some were doing barrel rolls and others were flying all sorts of interesting ways.  I loved it!  It made the wonderful day complete!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Raven Visits

Since I have seen NO ravens around my new house, I am forced to make raven visits to get my RAVEN fix.  Therefore I drove up to Mt. Veeder equipped with eggs and non-salted peanuts in the shell.  Both are great raven favorites.  I parked on Mt. Veeder Road near the big redwood tree where the ravens frequently hang out.  I got out of the car and started calling- RAVEN- really loud.  Then I heard the raven call back- it made me so HAPPY!  In a few moments they both appeared and sat in the tree watching me.  I put the eggs and peanuts on the ground and sat in the car and watched them come down and get them.  I was very pleased.  The 2 women who bought our house are interested in the birds.  They told us that the ravens come around every afternoon.  We told them about their love for eggs and they were interested in that so I hope they will feed them some eggs!
Yesterday we went to Bodega Bay.  I observed the tree near the restaurant where we like to eat.  The raven pair were there!  So I went over to pay my respects sans eggs however.  How rude of me.  I should be better prepared next time.  If I had never lived on Mt. Veeder I probably would never have paid any attention to the big black birds.  I am so glad that I did live there and learned about ravens.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Raven Rippers

Yesterday we went up to Mt. Veeder to visit friends and ravens.  Our friends live near our old house.  They have a pair of ravens that live around their property.  They also have a compost pile that the ravens like to frequent.  Fred puts out compost and food for the ravens each morning.  The ravens come down every morning and root around to see what is good to eat.  They become quite vociferous if the food does not arrive on time!  The problem arose when they put an Easy UP tent up near the compost pile to protect their wood splitter.  The ravens did not like that!  Apparently it was too close to the compost pile.  They retaliated by shredding the top of the tent.  It appears that they would poke a hole in the tent, then grab the loose piece of fabric and then pull, thus removing a strip of fabric.  Those aggravating birds!    Fred moved the tent further from the compost pile and the ravens haven't bothered it since.  The Raven Rippers got what they wanted!
We went down to the compost pile with pieces of cheese to see if the ravens would come around since I am so raven deprived.  They sat up in the trees and ran through their repertoire of sounds but would not come down.  There were four of us standing below and this probably discouraged them from coming down for the cheese.  I so enjoyed listening to the ravens knocking, croaking and commenting on the humans.  It was a great visit.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Crows All AROUND

I am now living in the land of the crows.  I have not seen a raven around the house although I have not given up hope.   There is a large open space across the way and I plan to start daily walks over there with eggs in my pocket.  Maybe I can coax a raven to come across the street and visit me.
Meanwhile I am making friends with the crows.  They are too small a bird to pick up a chicken egg so I had to think of what they might like as a treat.  I jumped in the car and went to the store and bought unsalted peanuts in the shell.  Yum- crows like those and so do the bluejays.  I put their treats in the same spot each morning and now they are waiting for me.  Those corvoids are such smart birds- they train us!  I don't know how the neighbors are going to like crows out there every morning but I like it fine!!  They are much better sounding than the rock band that practices in a garage two houses away- who knew- the man we bought the house from failed to mention this fact- full disclosure- I think not!   Oh well- it is life in the city- how I miss the tranquility of Mt. Veeder and the ravens.  However if I can't have ravens I will have their little cousins, the crows.  We shall get along just fine.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Visit with the ravens!

We made a trip up to Mt. Veeder to visit our former next door neighbors who had invited us to dinner.  I took two eggs along in case I saw Bold and Shy.  We parked at the base of the big redwood tree where they like to hang out and I called out RAVENS like I have always done.  I could not hear any raven sounds around at all.  I was very disappointed.  I placed the two eggs by the base of the tree and went up the driveway to our friends home.  While we were sitting out on their porch, the ravens appeared!  They were flying back and forth in front of the porch.  I was so happy to see them.  They did not approach the porch but they were showing off with their flying antics.  When we left that night I checked by the redwood tree and the two eggs were gone!  Crafty ravens didn't miss those!

I have found a new author that I like- James D. Doss who writes mysteries about the Ute indians of southern Colorado.  The stories feature an old woman shaman, Daisy, who enjoys the company of ravens.  She calls them Taqo-ci or Mr. or Mrs. Darkwing.  They talk to each other as the raven skip-hops along beside her.  Wouldn't that be fun?  I want a raven like that!!!

I have put out eggs several times in my new yard and they have disappeared during the daytime so I am hoping one of those ravens I see flying overhead have come down and picked them up.  We have lots of crows in this neighborhood.  I hear them everyday.  I talked to my friend Fred up on Mt. Veeder today.  He said he saw crows by his house for a short while but they have disappeared.  I too noticed crows at our Mt. Veeder home in June for the first time ever in 14 years.  I was so surprised.  Maybe they were trying to move in but it didn't work out- the ravens probably told them to hit the road Jack!!!

One of my friends suggested that I put the eggs on the roof for the ravens.  He said I should build a little platform for them on the roof- oh yeah- that is what I need to do and probably fall off in the process!  Raven will have to see the eggs in the garden and come and get them.  In time I hope this will happen.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In our new digs

We are more or less moved into our new home if you call a blowup bed and 2 chairs moved in!  Our furniture is in storage and will start arriving on Monday.  I have been scouting out the bird life in the new neighborhood.  We are very close to open fields and vineyards and a creek so there are many possibilities.  I have seen ravens flying overhead but way too high to attrack their attention.  So far I have seen the common garden birds, doves, towhees- the plain brown ones, lots of scrub jays, robins and chestnut backed chickadees.  Yesterday I went to the store and treated myself to all new bird feeders and 3 big bags of seed.  I spent the morning setting up the feeders and trimming the rose bushes.  While I was working I saw a pair of black shouldered kites fly overhead.  I started waving my hands and yelling so they circled around to take a better look.  Who says birds don't pay attention to humans???  As soon as I came inside from my chores, the bluejays came to investigate the new feeders.  They have not landed on them yet.  It will take one brave bird to be the first and then look out!!  I made a platform feeder out of a tomatoe support and a planter dish and put a nice big EGG in it right out in the open.  I will watch the egg to see if a raven will spot it and come down and get it.  I certainly hope so.  I am going to bring it in at night if it is not gone by dusk as a wily raccoon would be on it in a New York minute.
I got a message from my neighbor on Mt. Veeder.  She said the ravens made alot of racket after I left, calling for me to come out and play and bring eggs!  After two weeks they have quieted down.  I am going to go up there this weekend and call for them and bring them an egg or two and visit.  They know my car and I hope we can hook up as the modern expression goes!   I will walk on Mt. Veeder just like I always did- it is only 20 minutes away.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bold was there

Yesterday we spent several hours at Redwood House showing the new owners the property and how to work the various systems around the house.  We arrived a little early and I went out on the deck for one last time.  No sooner had I sat down then here came Bold!  He sat over my head and made all the raven sounds  and then flew around and did a barrel roll- what a send off for me!  It was so great!  Fortunately there is a good food supply up there between raven fanciers, road kill squirrels and the ravens natural ability to find food.  I am not worried that they will go hungry without me.  I am in Concord this morning and nary a raven sound to be heard.  I am so used to hearing the ravens each morning that something really does seem amiss.  I do hear a woodpecker however and of course the crazy dogs running up and down the hallway.  Andy the old cat is sitting right next to me and life is good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saying goodby to Bold

Yesterday, my last day at Redwood House, I sat on the deck overlooking the Napa Valley and listened to all of the bird sounds.  It was a cacophony of sounds as it was a beautiful day and all the birds were singing.  I could hear the chesnut backed chickadees, the piliated woodpecker pounding on a telephone pole, the quail making their special little sounds, the bluejays and their raucous calls and the grosbeaks with their lovely songs.  About this time, Bold raven showed up!  He sat over my head on a redwood tree branch and started his showing off routine.  He was dipping his head and croaking.  The feathers on his head were all fluffed out and he was bringing his wings up to his shoulders.  It was a perfect send off!  He was full of energy and having a good time.  I was having a good time too watching him go through his raven show off routine.  Then he flew over to another tree and started pulling bacon strips out of a tree crevice.  I had put bacon out the day before.  He must have cached it in the tree crevice and now came back to eat some.  How I will miss the raven antics and the raven sounds as background music to my day.   I just hope I can find another pair of ravens at my new home.  Ravens are in evidence all over the Napa Valley so I think I stand a good chance.  I am thinking positive about this as I do seem to attrack wildlife.  I will put out a couple of raw chicken eggs and see what happens as this is how I found Bold and Shy initially.
Tomorrow we are meeting with the 2 ladies that bought our house to show them how to work the drip irrigation system and all the other systems required in the country.   They are interested in the wildlife and I wll tell them all about the ravens.  The ravens will be fine as they have other admirers up on Mt. Veeder who will look after their welfare.  I will be visiting periodically to see friends we have made on Mt. Veeder and will look for Bold and Shy and hope to get a glimpse of them.  I did see a western wood peewee yesterday- that was a great thing to see as I very rarely get to see one of those- a going away present I said to myself.
As for now we are staying in Concord at our daughter's house.  She is in Hawaii and we are taking care of her 2 dogs and cat with our old cat Andy in tow.  She has a boxer puppy- talk about WILD life- he got my purse- dumped it out and was eating my cell phone when I caught him at it.  BAD DOG!!  We will return to Napa Valley when our new house is available.  Meanwhile I am looking for Concord ravens and know just where to go.  I am taking along a couple of raw eggs and will report on my raven success!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What alot of Raven Racket

The ravens have been getting lots of treats this past week as I clean out the refrigerator.  Today I put out 5 eggs and a pound of bacon- bacon and eggs for breakfast!!!  This was all well and good until the movers arrived- 6 guys and two trucks.  Now the ravens got really annoyed because they don't like to come down and get the food when there are strangers or unknown vehicles around.  So they sat in the trees above the food and made raven racket for several hours.  They finally gave up and went down by their redwood tree hangout where their nest is located.  Chuck and I then went out on the deck to have a little picnic lunch and to admire the view across the valley for one last time.  While we were sitting there, the two ravens began flying back and forth over our heads, flying in tandem- quite an aerial display.  They did a few rolls also- showing off for us I want to believe.  Ravens do like to have fun!  I so enjoy hearing their raven talk in the trees.  I have been listening to them for five years now so that I know most of their sounds and more of less what the sounds indicate- a good mood, a bad mood, annoyed, friendly, curious, or angry.  I really hope there will be ravens at my new home.  The new home is near a creek and has big redwood trees so I think I stand a good chance.  There are open vineyard lands nearby which is very similar to the Mt. Veeder landscape except for the lower altitude.  We will now be located in the valley instead of in the western hills of the Napa Valley.  I will miss the hills for their beauty but will not miss the hard winters, hauling wood, sliding roads, power outages, downed trees and torrential rains.  It has all been good and quite an adventure but we are getting too old for all this excitement!!  We are going to stay with our daughter Lexy in Concord, CA until our new house is available.  I found a raven pair over in Concord near the swimming pool where Chuck likes to swim laps- so I can get my raven fix and hear some raven sounds.  Maybe I will take a couple of eggs along and see what happens!!  Wherever I go I search the skies for ravens and they really are found in all types of terrain.  I doubt I will ever have the opportunity to communicate and get to know a raven pair like Bold and Shy again.  Sad for me.  I think that it had been a very special occurance but if it hadn't been for them I would never have developed such an interest in ravens and had so much raven enjoyment.  So I thank them for letting me enter their world for a short time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What are those crows doing here?

Yesterday as I was packing in the garage I heard crows calling.  Crows on Mt. Veeder?  I have never in 16 years heard a crow up here.  I think they must have heard about the food supply and flown up from the valley.  We took a break from packing the other day and sat by the creek and listened to the ravens.  They were in the trees above watching what the humans were doing below.  They were very interested and were talking among themselves making all the usual raven sounds.  I love to hear the ravens talk!  I have high hopes for our new house as it has very large redwood trees and is near a creek- so can a raven be far away?
The new owners of our mountain retreat are very interested in the birds and what to feed them and the plants and how to care for them, so I am feeling very positive that the land will be left in good hands. 
The other night as we drove home we saw a fox jump into a ditch by the side of the road and then a fawn got in front of our car and was running up the road until it finally jumped to the side.  I will miss these wildlife sightings which have been so much of our everyday life up here on the mountain.  I will miss the ravens following my car up the driveway when I arrive home from shopping.  They are so nosey- want to know where I have been and did I bring any snacks!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saying Goodby

It has been a very difficult time the last couple of weeks.  Our beautiful retreat of Redwood House has sold and we will be moving to a rental next week while our new house gets ready for our occupancy.  I have been saying goodby to all my bird and animal friends.  The ravens will be fine as other neighbors do leave treats out for them and there are several compost piles that they visit with regularity.  Yesterday I found a chicken egg almost completely buried in a pile of redwood bark pieces.  Mr. Raven was saving it for another day.  It has been such a treat to know Bold and Shy.  I am not sure if the ravens that come every morning are Bold and Shy but a pair does come every morning and make racket for food.  They do not come as close to the house as Bold used to do.  They sit in the redwood trees above the spot on the path where I have been feeding them for the last month or so.  They sit and talk, and knock and canoodle- I can always tell what is going on by the sounds they make.  It is so wonderful to hear the raven sounds each morning- I will miss that so much.  I am hoping there will be ravens at my new house.  It was built in 1986 and has very mature landscaping and big trees and is next to a creek.  There should be lots of birds and there just may be a raven pair in the big redwood trees by the house- I certainly hope so!  I will miss Mr. Fox who comes every evening and of course the piliated woodpecker who makes such a racket pecking away on the telephone poles.

We have had a lot of buzzards flying around the house lately.  When they come all the other birds scatter, including the ravens.  They are so big and must be frightening and look like a raptor in flight.  They have discovered the spot where I feed the ravens so they come looking every day to see if there is anything big enough for them to consider eating.  A steak bone perhaps?

I was over at the rental house the other day and two perky crows came and sat in the tree right over my head.  I guess I will have crows to talk to for the short time I will be living there.  I would like to know a crow.  I wonder if they eat raw chicken eggs?  I don't believe they could pick them up like the ravens do and fly off with them but I will put some out and see what happens.

I will tell the new owners of Redwood House about the raven pair.  I hope they will take an interest.  I have not had good luck with this sort of thing.  My last house had two types of orioles that came each spring to nest in the palm trees.  We lived there 16 years and they came every year.  I told the new owners about it and then they cut down EVERY single tree on the 1/2 acre lot and then parked trucks on my beautiful lawn and tore out all the flower beds.  Had I known I never would have sold to those idiots.  Who could tell?  The ladies who are buying Redwood House do seem to love nature and flowers and are buying it as a second home so I think they will appreciate what nature has to offer.  One of the ladies did ask me- "does the fox bite?"- how to respond to that????  It has been wonderful to live in these mountains in synch with nature and the seasons.  I will miss it so much.  Life will be easier in the flat lands of the valley but so much less inspiring.  It is too bad we got old and find it difficult to deal with splitting firewood and hauling it and all the rest that goes with mountain living- it is time to leave it and hope that the new owners with treat it with the kindness and love it deserves.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raven comes a knocking

Raven was up in the tree knocking this morning for the morning treat.  I did not feel like getting up so the raven had to wait for me to roll out of bed and deliver breakfast.  Lamb chop bones and chicken eggs this morning.  My neighbors have told me that the raven pair have been spending alot of time down in the their vineyard below their house rooting around in the weeds.  There must be something to eat down in that vineyard- what could it be?  I have only seen one pair of ravens in our valley the last two weeks.  I wonder where the other pair went and whether the pair that remains is Bold and Shy.  The remaining  pair do not seem to have the same personalities or habits as Bold and Shy.  It is a RAVEN mystery.  Perhaps Bold and Shy got displaced?  The other possibility is that so many people and cars have been coming and going that it has disturbed the ravens.  Yesterday Pacific Gas and Electric was here with a truck to change out our two electric meters with Smart Meters- which translates to higher bills I am sure.  I wish I knew the answer to the raven mystery.
Mr. Fox was here last evening about 6 PM.  He is not afraid of us- just sort of looks at me when I open the door and look out.  He scouts all the places where I feed the ravens to see if anything is left.  We have so many grosbeaks this year.  They have such a lovely song and come to the black oil sunflower seed feeders.  I have to fill the seed feeders and the hummingbird feeders every day.  Mr. Bad Squirrel is up to his tricks- hanging on the seed feeders trying to figure out how to get the seeds.  Usually he ends up dumping the whole works on the ground and sometimes dragging the feeder off into the bunches.  I end up under the camellia bushes searching for the feeders.   It is so much fun to watch the wildlife that I don't mind their antics.
It is a foggy morning in Napa Valley.  The sun is out up here on the mountain but we can look out and see the fog down in the valley.  It looks like a big fluffy blanket.  It will be a beautiful day.  Time to fill the feeders!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Fox Appears Again

Mr. Fox came by the door right at 5:15 PM.  He stood on the deck so that I got a really good look at him.  He did not have a red tail like the red fox that I know.   I looked up pictures of native northern California foxes on the internet and found a picture of my fox.  It is the native grey fox- hurrah!!  We have the native species here.  He is very beautiful and very healthy so he must be getting enough food.  We must have enough land available that is not in grapes to allow for a corridor for the fox to travel.  I am very excited to know this.  What a good wildlife day!

Raven Calling

Since there has been so much coming and going around here- the ravens do not come as close to the house as they used to.  They alight in the trees at the end of the path where I place their two eggs each morning.  We have a new system of communication these days.  They call when they arrive in the trees.  I go outside and call back.  I can't imitate the knocking  or the cooing sounds but I can give the raucous call!  So I call back and then they call back.  It really is quite entertaining and I expect anyone watching or listening would wonder about my sanity.  Of course- do I CARE?  NO!
I haven't been putting out meat scraps lately for the ravens because this attracts the buzzards.  Now I know buzzards have to eat- but they can go eat squirrel down on the road.  So raven has been getting chicken eggs and Old Roy dog food pellets which they like as do the blue jays.
Today there are many California quail and American gold finches feeding on their preferred seeds.  The chesnut backed chickadees are at the suet feeder.  Everyone is happy since we got in a big load of bird seed.  Our normal supplier is not carrying big bags of bird seed anymore so we had to go over to Sonoma County to buy bird seed- now that is dedication of our part!  I am happy to see so many varieties of birds and they are happy to have the food source.
I have noticed the ravens being pursued by the big hawk again.  I wonder if they are trying to steal the eggs out of the hawk's nest.  This seems foolhardy to me as the hawk is bigger than they are.  Raven has no fear perhaps?
Last evening the fox came by the door at 5 PM in the daylight.  Fox usually comes at dusk.  He always walks on the railing where I used to put the raven food.  He remembers there used to be food there.  He frequently leaves his calling card- what is up with that?    He is not afraid of me at all and doesn't pay any attention to me as he looks for a mouse or vole in the garden areas.  He is quite large from nose to tail so I expect he is a red fox rather than the endangered kit fox.  He has a sharp face and a terrific nose.  I wonder where he stays during the day.  There are plenty of hidey holes in the woods around here.  We all need a hidey hole now and then to feel safe.
I just got a new book- CORVUS- A Life with Birds by Esther Woolfson.  It is a great read about a woman who lives with corvids- I wish I had a corvid all my own!  It is illegal here in California to have a wild bird in your possession unless you have a permit from Fish and Game.  I don't think I will be doing that so I will just enjoy my wild friends and practice my Raven Calling!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Great Day for Birds

Today I sat on the deck with Andy the cat and watched the wildlife come and go from the bird feeders.  It was amazing to see so many different birds.  We had the scrub jay and Stellar jay at the suet feeder.  There were red breasted nuthatches scurrying up the redwood trees searching for tidmits.  The grosbeaks were singing their lovely songs and eating black oil sunflower seeds.  Ms. Turkey was picking up seeds off the ground and a titmouse was at the feeder off and on.  The California quail were out and about with the morning doves eating seeds off the ground.  A piliated woodpecker could be heard banging away in a tree.  The rufous sided towhees were also picking up seeds.  And of course there were the ravens.  I hadn't seen them so I yelled really loud RAVENS and here they came on the wing and settled in a tree to comment on my rude behaviour.  For their efforts they got two eggs and some Old Roy dog kibbles.  They sat in the tree for sometime making little cooing sounds and knocking and then came down and got their treats and then they were off.  The male gold finches are getting brighter yellow everyday- mating season is here.  Have to impress those female gold finches!  Isn't is great that the males have to get dressed up?
Earlier in the day we were driving up the driveway and there was a piliated woodpecker banging on a redwood log right by the car door.  We stopped so that we could get a good look.  What a pretty bird he was, such a bright red head and lovely gray body.
We have so many hummingbirds right now.  Usually the mass of hummingbirds is here in late March as they migrate from Mexico up to the northern latitudes.   This year it has been so cold that I believe the migration has been delayed.  I have to fill my feeders twice a day to keep up with the demand.  The resident Anna's hummingbirds are being outmanuvered by the Allan's at the feeders.  The Allan's are smaller and golden in color and very pugnacious and very pretty.  There is alot of diving and fancy flying going on in the hummingbird world around here.  Soon the Allan's will move north and peace will return to the mountain.
So all in all it was a great day for birding and I didn't have to go anywhere!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Roll Day

Yesterday the ravens had a happy ROLL day.  I was responsible for cooking jambalaya for 65 people and serving it the other night.  We also had rolls for dinner and there were a zillion left over- so I brought them home- good raven food.  They like ROLLS.  I put a bunch out and here came Bold and Shy for the pickup.  They got all the rolls.  They must be caching them somewhere.  Later in the day I saw the hawk chasing the ravens again.  I think it is a red tailed hawk as I could see the sun on its tail and it shone a beautiful red color.  What is a red tailed hawk doing up here?  They are usually in more open countryside.  I suppose the vineyards could be open enough land for them to hunt.
Yesterday was a momentous day for my 12 year old cat!  He caught a mouse- I couldn't believe it!  He brought it right in to show me.  What a present!  Old Andy Cat still is a mouser after all these years.
The ravens are still collecting sticks and building a nest in the tall redwood tree.  I think for fun today I will walk the forest and pick up a bunch of sticks of the appropriate size and put them in a pile where I usually place the raven food.  Then I will watch to see if they select any of the sticks for their nest.  If they do I will have the satifaction of helping with the nest building!
This morning I can hear the ravens call but have not seen them flying.  It is very foggy outside and they have not come around as of yet.  Ms. Turkey is here eating birdseed off the ground.  Mr. Bad Squirrel is here.  He is sitting on the raven's spot on top of the sawed off redwood tree trunk- looking in at me.   He is so bold we call him bad squirrel as he likes to chew on wood that is part of the house. With all the wood around here why does he have to chew on that particular board???
When the fog burns off it will be a beautiful day in the Napa Valley.  Such a delight!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The OWL and the Ravens

Yesterday was quite the raven day.  I put out the two raw chicken eggs in the early morning.  Bold and Shy flew in and sat on a redwood tree branch right over the eggs.  They sat very close together and appeared to be conferring.  They reminded me of Heckle and Jeckle from the old cartoon- remember that one- 2 smart crows?  I was enjoying the raven conference when some workmen arrived- the bane of my raven observations.  The ravens flew away but they came back later to collect the eggs.
Later that day I saw the raven pair beetling down the air space over the driveway with a very large owl on their tails!  What had the ravens been up to?  Do you think they possibily tried to steal an egg out of an owl's nest?  This was a great horned owl who was very mad!
Later that day we observed the raven pair bringing twigs into a particular spot near the top of a redwood tree.  There certainly is nest building going on there.  We have set up the spotting scope to try and observe the activity.  It is interesting to note that during this last week we have only seen the one pair of ravens.  Perhaps the other pair have moved on to a place without competition.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flying and Soaring

The four ravens are soaring and flying up our little valley all day long.  They appear to be having a very good time.  They are continuing to fly with sticks in their beaks and I can see the tree they are flying into from my house.  However when I walk down to the location where I think the tree is- I can't tell which tree it is.  It is a very tall redwood tree.  I think I will have to camp out down there until I see a raven with a stick fly into the tree.  This seems very late for nest building.  In past years there have been baby ravens making alot of noise by early June.  It has been a very cold Spring- maybe that is the reason.  Yesterday morning it was 39 degrees- this morning it is 53 degrees- such large temperture swings.  We have not put out any tomato plants yet- it is too darn cold!
There have been alot of workmen up here lately and I know this has disturbed the ravens.  Pacific Gas and Electric has had workmen up here trimming the trees under the power lines.  The ravens do not like all the noise of the power equipment. They are very wary of strangers and stay away when work is going on.  They are also very wary of strange vehicles.  They knew my Toyota Camry and used to follow my car up the long driveway when I would arrive home.  However that is the car that burned up for no apparent reason, so they don't do that anymore.
I have been putting two raw chicken eggs out at the end of the path each day and watch as the ravens come in and pick them up and fly off with them.  I still get a thrill to see them flying with that white orb in their beaks. 
I woke up early this morning and it sounded like an owl convention.  The great horned owls were calling back and forth- back and forth.  Then a piliated woodpecker started pounding away.  Nature at its best!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ravens in Sonoma

Yesterday morning early we were sitting out on the deck and our two ravens flew into a tree over our heads.  They were sitting on a branch right next to each other and were canoodling.  They were making their sweet little noises and holding each other beaks.  It was such a sight to see.  Just as we were enjoying this peaceful scene, some workmen arrived and the ravens flew off.  We continue to see four ravens flying around the house and are not sure what is going on in the raven community.  Bold is not coming each morning for food like he done for the last five years.  Something has disrupted the whole pattern.  I am truly sad about the change.
Yesterday afternoon we went over to Sonoma Valley to the Gundlach-Bundshu Winery.  My friend had won their poetry contest so we went to the winery to collect her prizes (BIG bottles of wine) and to taste their estate wines.  It was a beautiful day.  Chuck went outside after tasting wine and came back in and told me there were ravens flying around outside.  So out I went in search of ravens.  I sat on the rock wall and here came a big raven.  I called to him and he landed near me.  He was so cute- hopping and skipping all around.  He was tasting the olives that had fallen from the trees.  He didn't seem to care for the olives very much.  We were sitting there admiring each other when a worker came out of the winery door- WOW- he said- what a big black bird!  He said that he had never seen such a bird in all his life.  I told him it was a raven.  I was thinking then how unobservant people are.  The Gundlach-Bundshu Winery is located just about 2 miles from the Ravenswood Winery.  It is called Ravenswood because of the presence of many RAVENS in the area.  The winery logo is a very fine design of a circle of ravens.  How could it be that a person working in this locale had never noticed the big black birds?  Perhaps he had never looked up to heed the raven's call.  Perhaps he will be more observant after this- a good thing.  A fine day was had in Sonoma- the Valley of the Moon.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What is going on with the ravens????

There are now four ravens flying around in our little valley.  Who are these two new interloper ravens and where did they come from?  We saw two ravens carrying sticks this morning.  They appear to be building a nest.  I believe they are the new pair who have moved in.  Bold and Shy already have a nest so it probably was not them carrying the sticks.   What has caused this new pair to move into the area?  Is it the real estate? The creek?  The free eggs?  This change in raven occupancy has caused a complete change in Bold's usual habits.  Bold does not come in the mornings like he used to- he comes at erratic times.  Last evening I was working at the dining room table and I looked outside.  Bold was on the deck railing trying to get my attention.  He was puffing up his feathers and bobbing his head up and down.  He definitely wanted attention and he appeared harried.  So I jumped up and put some meat scraps out on the deck railing while he waited for me.  He was in a big hurry to get the food- he stacked it up and flew off with it. 
Today I put out two eggs at about 9 AM.   Bold was just flying in when some workmen on the ridge began making a lot of noise and shouting.  Bold wheeled around and flew away.  I was sorry to see him go. It is now 1:30 PM and Bold has not returned.  Something has really upset the raven routine around here.
The grossbeaks have arrived.  We heard their beautiful song this morning.  I have not seen one but they are certainly here.   I need to get the feeder out for them with the black oil sunflower seed.  Always something to do for the wildlife population.  The goldfinches are busy eating the thistle seed and are doning their beautiful breeding plumage.  It is a beautiful day for all creatures!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Raven Happenings

I was at the Scottish Games this weekend and forgot to put out food for the raven before I left early Saturday morning.  This was not a good thing.  Bold noticed that there were no victuals available so he began a program of aggravating Chuck.  Bold flew in front of the window many times so he could be seen.  That didn't work- no food appeared.  So- big mistake- Bold went on the roof and began POUNDING with his beak.  This was not a good plan.  Chuck went up on the roof to see if any damage had occured and none was seen.  This however did not endear Bold and he got NO food.
Next Chuck noticed the four juvenile ravens in a dog fight in front of the large windows.  One raven had something in his beak and the other three ravens wanted it.  There occured much swooping and diving and barrel rolling.  I missed seeing this exhibition however I saw a few exhibitions of the raven kind at the Scottish Games.
A woman came by my booth all dressed up in Elizabethan costume.  The remarkable thing was that she had one of the big raven puppets like I have attached to her hand.  BUT- this raven puppet was all dressed up.  It had on a kilt complete with accouterments such as a sporan and a very fancy crown!  I want a raven like that to show to Bold.  Then a man came by with a red pith helmet on his head.  He had a lifelike raven figure on top of the pith helmut.  How cool was that?  All in all it was a good raven time at the Scottish Games.  It just goes to show that there are several raven nuts in the neighborhood!
It is 7:02 AM and I better go out and put out some raw chicken eggs for the ravens or there maybe raven trouble today in river city!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cacophony of ravens in the Sequoia Gigantia

The Mayacamus Mountains where the raven pair live is located between the Napa Valley and the Sonoma Valley of the Moon.  The rainfall on the Napa side of the ridge line is very heavy and thus the occurance of Coast Redwood trees.  This area was stripped of trees at the turn of the century to rebuild San Francisco which had been destroyed by an earthquake and fire.  Thus the coast redwood trees are less than 100 years old.  Some are very large because they grow fast.  BUT- the loggers left one very large tree standing  and it is located behind my house.  It is a 2000 year old Sequoia Gigantia- the giant redwood tree variety of colossal stature.  It is quite a sight to see and many people get married under the tree.   This morning I went outside as dawn was approaching and I heard a cacophony of ravens up in the crown of the Sequoia.  I have heard this before but have not gone outside to see what the commotion was all about.  As I watched 4 ravens came shooting out of the crown of the tree reminding me of the formation flying of the Blue Angels when they split off from a formation and go in four different directions.  Wow- it was quite a sight.  I believe it must be four juveniles who roost there overnight and fly out in the morning.  We have seen Bold and Shy up there in past years teaching the babies to fly but I believe it is too early for that.  Bold has not appeared this morning- he is late- where is that bird???  I need some raven company this morning!  We are off to set up for the Scottish Games this morning and I have plenty of handmade raven jewelry to sell- those birds have been my inspiration and my muse.
As I look outside the mountain pigeons have arrived.  Some people call them band tailed pigeons.  They are very lovely birds- very skittish.  They like the black oil sunflower seeds I put out each day.  If the ravens can't find anything else they prefer to eat they will scarf up a few and scare all the other birds away!  Although they have a tough time with Mr. Aggressive Squirrel who also likes the seeds.  Mr. Squirrel ignores raven and so raven pulls the squirrel's tail when his back is turned.  This is great fun to watch.  Raven pulls the tail and then backs up when squirrel turns around and charges at him.  Squirrel turns around, raven does it again.  It is true- RAVENS JUST LIKE TO HAVE FUN!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Raven Bonanza!

Last night my husband and I decided to go out and have a prime rib dinner to celebrate.  We ordered the extra cut (what were we thinking?).  Trying to support the beef industry I suppose and my friend the rancher.  Anyhow neither one of us could eat these giant pieces of meat BUT raven could!  We brought the rest of the dinner home and I am now watching raven come and get it.  He is enjoying eating some and flying off with some.  Bold is either caching it or taking it to Shy, I wish I knew which.  I am able to get a good look at his feathers today.  They are so beautiful and shiny.  Bold is getting a good look at me too as he is watching me out of the corner of his eye as he stuffs food in his beak.   Probably feels sorry for me- no lovely feathers and can't fly! 

Monday, April 19, 2010


Well I have learned one thing, ravens do not like ham.  At least Bold does not.  I put out ham scraps after Easter and he ate them reluctantly.  Always went for the Easter eggs first.  Yesterday morning I put out some ham lunch meat and Bold ignored it all day.  In fact it was still there when night fall came.  I looked out later when I heard some rustling on the deck and saw the fox.  Foxy wasn't so particular.

This morning Bold got lamb chop bones, one of the favorites.  I then noticed the presence of two turkey vultures sitting in the trees near the deck.  They sure are BIG- what a wing span.  They are a dusty dark color and seem very spooked by me.  Bold just ignored them and went about his business of trying to stack up as many lamb bones as possible and get them into his beak.  He was having trouble doing it on the hard surface of the deck railing.  Now here is where one can see that ravens can think and figure out problems.  He put all the bones in the planter box that is on the edge of the deck.  It has a soft surface and the bones were now below his beak level.  In this way he was able to stack all the bones and get them into his beak all at once and then fly away with them.  He wasn't about to share with some old buzzards!  What a smart bird Bold is.

I believe the raven pair must be nesting now because I have not seen Shy in days.  I guess I will have to get on my boots and hike over to where I heard the babies squawking last year.  The nest was very high up in a redwood tree.  I think I will take my spotting scope along and go do a raven reconnaissance mission and see what I can find. It really is alot of fun watching the ravens and the other wildlife that live on Mt. Veeder.  We have been visited by rufous sided towhees this year.  They like the black oil sunflower seeds that I spread on the ground each day for the California quail.  The towhees are so very pretty with their black and white and red coloring.  They make me happy just looking at them.  The quail make me happy too with their bobbing top knots.  The sunshine has made everyone around here alot happier.  It truly is a beautiful day on the mountain.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes!

It is sunny and lovely outside.  The daffodils are lifting their heads once again.  The camellias are in bloom and the Japanese maples are coming out. 

The other morning when I got up and went outside to check the rain gauge I heard the rumble of what I thought was an earth mover.  After listening for awhile I realized the vineyard fans were on= wow in April.  The fans all over the valley must have been on for the noise to travel up to 1600 feet to our house.  Truly amazing for April.  The bud break has occurred on the vines and the growers cannot afford to have freezing temperatures affect the tender buds.  Being a grape farmer has all sorts of hazards.  Have to have good grapes for that Napa Valley wine.

We went over to Bodega Bay for a couple of days for a change of scene.  Put out a goodly amount of food for Bold and Shy before we took off.  Went to Doran's Beach to look up the two ravens who cajoled me out of my lunch on my last visit.  I went to the cypress and pine grove by the dunes where I last encountered them.  I did not see or hear them.  Looked up at their nest and no one was home.  So I found a spot along the beach and made myself comfortable.  What did I HEAR??  Ravens- yes they were coming.  It is interesting to note that this raven pair has a higher pitched vocalization than Bold and Shy. 

Well we looked each other over and I put out some crackers.  They were down in a NY minute and so I had a visit with the Bodega Bay ravens.  The ravens after eating flew off toward Bodega Head and were seen no more.  It is nice to visit wildlife when one is out and about.

This morning Bold was here at 7 AM.  Bold is reverting to his usual schedule now that the rain has stopped.
I haven't seen Shy lately.  I am still wondering if they are nesting this year.  Chuck said he saw 4 ravens flying around in the sky this morning.  Must be some visiting juveniles out for a sky cruise.  I said that Bold has been so quiet lately and he said- just wait- there will be lots of noise if they have babies and that is for SURE!  It would be fun to have bothersome babies around again.  They are quite the ticket for enjoyment, if you are raven fan.  Only time will tell.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What is with this WEATHER?

It has been raining for days.  I just looked out because the rain on the roof sounded so loud- it is HAILING!!  Hailing in April?  The ravens DO NOT LIKE RAIN.  I have seen very little of them lately since it is raining all the time.  They do come and get the food I put out but I normally do not see them.  They come, get the food and leave.  It is not like a sunny day when I am in the garden.  On days like that they hang around in the trees overhead to see what I am doing.  Last night just before dusk I saw Bold flying by my window.  He was trying to get my attention.  He seemed very agitated.  I went out and put a piece of chicken on the railing.  He came down right away, ignoring me.  He appeared frantic for food.  I wonder if the female is on the nest.  Today I have not seen them although them did get the salmon scraps I put out early this morning.  I miss our daily interactions and conversations- me talking and them making their little raven sounds when they are polite and their big ravens noises just because they can!  I am hoping for better weather soon.  Everything up here is soggy.  It is recharging the acquifer so I can't complain too much but oh I do lust for a sunny day with ravens flying and soaring in the air above.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Stealth Raven

It has been raining for a week now with periodic weak sunshine.  The temperature has been 38 degrees in the mornings.  The ravens do not like rain and I am getting tired of it myself. The ravens stay holed up somewhere on rainy days and I rarely see them when it is raining.  When I do see them they look very dispirited and glum.  I have been putting food out every day and it disappears but I have not seen them pick it up.  This morning it was not raining so I decided to try and see if the ravens would come to get hard boiled Easter eggs.  I put out a yellow egg on the railing and the next time I looked, it was gone.  So I put out another yellow egg.  I was putting dishes in the dishwasher and when I turned around the second egg was gone!  I did not see who or what got it.  So I put out a red egg- turned my back to look at something, looked around and it was gone!  I went outside and looked for raven.  Usually they take the eggs to particular spots to eat them- nobody there.  I think I have a stealth raven.  So I put out another red egg and I am going to watch this one to see who comes and gets it.

I have not seen the raven pair together for one week.  I wonder if they are nesting now.  This is the time of year for raven nesting here in Napa.  I hope it is so.  The baby birds are so loud and boisterous and I enjoy their antics.

Well since it is not raining, it is time to go out and feed the quail and the goldfinches.  Goldfinches are named appropriately since their niger seed food is now about the price of gold!  Meanwhile I will be diligently watching the red egg for stealth raven!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What was THAT?

Last night there was a terrific racket on the deck.  I thought it was a cat fight on the deck- but whose cats?  In fact it was Andy the fat cat down at the glass door screeching and making the most terrible noises.  What the heck?  I looked out the window and what did I see but a huge red fox.  The fox was after a mouse in the verdant new growth at the base of a redwood tree.  I have often seen the shadow of a fox at dusk come looking on the deck for any morsels the ravens might not have eaten that day.  The shadows were small and I expect they were the native gray fox.  We often see the small gray foxes jump off the road into the ditch when driving the mountain roads at night.  This red fox however was three sizes bigger than Andy the fat cat.  It is a good thing that Andy was protected by the glass door.  So because of the ravens I get to see foxes on the deck!  You will have to excuse my braggadocio about my raven pair!
Yesterday I put out some chicken fat, 2 mice and dry dog food for the ravens.  I wanted to see the raven's food preference.  Bold came down and grabbed the chicken fat, as much as he could stuff in his beak.  It was hanging out of his beak in all directions when he took off flying.  Bold came back.  This time he stacked the two mice in his beak and some more chicken fat and took off.  I wonder if Bold shares?  Does he eat it all at once or hide some?  Bold left the dog kibbles until later in the day- hoping for another mouse perhaps?

Since the time change Bold and I don't have our greeting and feeding down to a precise time slot.  I find that I want to sleep in more since the time change for some reason- of course the rainy foggy days may have something to do with it!  Bold isn't much for showing up on rainy days either- he doesn't like rain!  I can tell- he looks all discombobulated on a rainy morning.  So now when I put the food out whenever I get up- I first listen for ravens sounds- if I hear a click or a clack I call out RAVEN really loud and here Bold comes.  If I don't hear the ravens, I call out RAVEN and FOOD really loud and Bold appears in a short time.  The raven must have good hearing or is close by. 

It is another raven day.  There is a weak sun coming out.  I must go out and call to the ravens and start the day off right!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mouse Day

Oh the ravens love mouse day.  This would be a day when we catch a mouse who has the temerity to invade my art studio and to lounge among my finished goods.  So today a dead mouse was on the menu.  This is recycling in my mind.  I do like to live and let live with nature BUT they eat the labels off the wine bottles and chew on my cards.  Why do they do that?  There are so many more delicious things to eat outside!!

However- BOLD raven was delighted with the prospect of mouse for breakfast.  He flew down, scooped it up and was gone.  Shy got left out of the feast as usual, even though Shy was here first sitting in the redwood tree.  Shy is really Shy.  Bold came back after taking the mouse away, so I put out two eggs so they each had a treat.  Bold really seems to like it when I talk to him.  As long as I am outside and talking to him- he stays around to see what the crazy human will do next.  Perhaps another mouse will appear?

It is a beautiful day.  The camellias are in full bloom and the daffodils are holding their golden heads up to the sun.  It coudn't be better.  Andy the cat is lounging in the window in the sun and all is right with the world.  I filled up the thistle feeder sock for the first time this year and within 4 hours the gold finches had appeared.  They are hanging all over the sock having a thistle feast.  I have been throwing black oil sunflower seeds on the ground near the kitchen door.  There is a squirrel out there right now and 2 rufous sided towhees feeding on the seeds.  A whole covey of quail come each afternoon to pick up seeds.  It is just great to see all the wildlife.  What I can't understand is why the mice prefer labels and cards instead of sunflower seeds????
Go figure.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ravens Expand Their Territory to Next Door

The ravens have not been spending their days in our little valley as much lately.  They have been next door trying to get the chicken feed from the neighbors chickens!  A new source of food and probably some raven fun trying to swipe the chicken's food!  They still come every morning to get their morning treat- steak bones, eggs, whatever we have handy.  I got a great buy on chicken eggs the other day.  The supply will hold for sometime at two eggs a day.  Both ravens are still visiting each day.  I am wondering if they are not going to nest this year.  They have had two or three babies each year for the last five years.  The female is usually on the nest by this time of the year so I am puzzled this year.  Maybe the last batch of babies drove them crazy.  One baby would not leave!  It was as big as they are and still wanted to be fed and made so much noise that all the neighbors were commenting- what is with the ravens- they are so noisey!   Actually it was just the one baby making all the racket.  That was one fat baby as the parents kept feeding it to keep it quiet- sounds familiar?  I will miss not having babies this year even if they are very vociferous.  Time will tell.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Raven Abandonment

This has been a very weird week to say the least.  On Tuesday we went down town.  When we got home about 4 PM the ravens were in the redwood trees looking for a treat.  I went inside to make the bed and could hear them outside making little noises.  The shades were down in the bedroom so that I could not see outside and they could not see me but they KNEW I was in there.  About 4:30 PM my husband starts yelling that my car is on FIRE!  Sure enough flames were coming out of the passenger side wheel well.  He told me to call 911, which I did.  Since we live in the county this call would bring the Dry Creek/Lokoya Volunteer Fire Dept and the California Dept. of Forestry, but not for awhile.  So we got the hoses and sprayed water on the car.  About this time black smoke started billowing up from the burning tires and the ravens LEFT!  Smart birds- abandoned by my so called bird friends!
It was very nerve wracking until the volunteer fire dept arrived with the big hoses and lots of water and put out the fire.  We were afraid the gas tank would catch on fire and burn the house down as the car was parked close to the house.  The windshield shattered and started shooting pieces of glass- all in all it was a horrible experience but no one got hurt and only the car is toast.  Junky Cars is coming to pick up the car today.
It is raining, it seems appropriate to say goodby to my car.  Tuesday was a bad day for me and Toyota.  We have no clue why the car caught on fire.  I won't be getting another Toyota anytime soon.
I expect the ravens to arrive in about 30 minutes.  They will get steak scraps today and they will be very happy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunny Days and Where is MY FOOD!

We have had a few half sunny days and what a difference it makes.  The daffodils have their shining heads held up to the sunshine and the ravens are looking perkier.  They are SO perky and pesky that they have been hanging around by my window all day- off and on.  This morning I was cleaning out the refrigerator and came across 5 chicken sausages past their prime.  I looked outside and could not see the ravens.  So I went outside and yelled really loud- RAVEN- RAVEN- and in about 2 minutes- here they came on the wing. Bold tried to line up the sausages on the deck railing so he could put as many as possible in his beak.  Bold got them perfectly aligned and was able to get 3 sausages in his beak at once.  Then Shy came and picked up the remaining two sausages and that was the end of the sausages!
When the sun is shining the world looks so fine.  The trees are leafing out, the miner's lettuce is abundant and the world is verdant.  I see soap plant poking its leaves up and fairy lanterns about to bloom- the forest is alive with native plants and the pugnacious Allan's and Rufous hummingbirds are passing through on their migration north.   Their golden bodies shine in the sun as they feed at the hummingbird feeders.  Ah Spring is in the air even though it is still winter.  There are still piles of ladybugs over in the sunny spot by the creek.  The ground and the tree limbs are red with their little bodies.  Sometimes I walk over there to see how they are doing.  I come back with ladybugs attached to my socks, pants and shirt.  I have to de- ladybug myself before I go in the house.  Such is the pleasure of nature in the almost Spring.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rainy Days and Where is MY FOOD?

It has been raining every morning for a few days.  The ravens are out in full force each morning making all their raven noises for food service.  Yesterday I didn't feed them right at 7:30 AM.  I was sitting in the living room sitting by the fire and looking out at the rain and fog and what do I see but Bold flying back and forth in front of the big windows.  He wanted to make sure that I saw him.  Then Shy joined in with the flying back and forth.  It was quite the show!  It was then imperative that I get up and put out the two raw chicken eggs.  After that all was fine in the raven's world.
Late in the afternoon Bold arrived and sat on the sawed off redwood tree stump that he favors.  Bold started doing his displays of fluffing his head feathers, dipping the head, and raising the wings.  A pretty fine show it was.  For a reward he got a barbqued chicken breast.  What a boon- picked that up in a NY minute and was off with it to parts unknown.  A good day for raven and the sun had come out too.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rainy Days and that Black Cat

This morning the raven was agitated.  I was having tea in the front room and I saw Bold flying back and forth in front of the big windows.  He was trying to get my attention.  I had not fed the ravens yet and they were HUNGRY!  I went out on the deck and discovered the black cat.  This cat lives next door with another black cat that looks just like him.  The owners are often away for long periods of time and the cats want some attention and food.  I do not want them at my house because they scare the birds and beat up on my old orange cat Andy.  So I yelled at the black cat to go home.  The cat is still under the porch and will not leave.  I do not want to put the eggs out as I do not want to put the ravens in danger.  So we will all have to wait for the cat to go home then life can return to normal.  Meanwhile it has not bothered Mr. Aggressive Squirrel who is out scouting for black oil sunflower seeds which I put on the ground this morning.  The juncos are after the seeds as well.  Bold has left but will be back later when I can feed him his egg and Shy too.
Yesterday I watched an old Sherlock Holmes movie which featured a pub called the Rat and the Raven.  The pub had a live raven sitting on the bar- he was making racket and people were throwing insults his way- is this any way to treat a raven?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Those Nosey Ravens

Every day the ravens have been arriving at 7:30 AM like clockwork!  They get their eggs and whatever else is available in the refrigerator-  left over meat, bones, fat of any kind.  They love it all!  This morning at 7:30 AM I was down in the studio working when they arrived.  I heard their calls and clicks and clacks.  I did not answer as I was too busy with my art work.  When to my surprise- here comes Bold- as bold as you please up to the door of the studio!  He found me and he was not happy- where was his food???  He looked in right at me- there is a thinking being behind those eyes- and they were thinking FOOD NOW!  So what could I do but get up, go upstairs and appease the beast with slices of left over roast.  Life is tough when you have a compliant human at your command!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I am sitting here at the computer looking down at Bold.  He is on the railing of the deck enjoying a can of cat food that Andy will not eat.  It is the expensive type with vegetables or some such thing good for diabetic cats.  Andy will not eat it but Bold seems very interested.  He is picking at it right now.  I can see him very well and he is BIG, BOLD and BEAUTIFUL.  His feathers are lustrous, shiny with a hint of purple, green and cobalt blue with the black.  His feet are very BIG and so is his beak.  I have not seen Shy today so I am wondering if she is on the nest now.  Shy usually shows up in the morning at 7:30 AM but I have not seen her for two days.  I will keep looking for her each morning. 
The Stellers Jay and the Quail are here eating bird seed that was scattered on the ground.  It is hard to find food in the winter months so we put out seed everyday that it does not rain.  The quail are so pretty with their top knot and varied feather colors.  The bird world is special to behold.  We just got back from Tucson and had fun watching the roadrunners.  Each morning when we got up a roadrunner would be running along the top of the concrete block fence.  His tail was wagging up and down and he was on a mission.  Very amusing and entertaining.
Bold is back and he is doing his showing off routine.  He puffs up his wings and moves his head up and down while he makes a particular sound.  He looks very large .  He likes to sit in the tree outside the window where I am working.  There is plenty of food on the rail for him to eat but he is not down there eating.  Instead he is right outside the window at my level.  I think he likes company.  I yell out the window periodically- HEY RAVEN- what's doing.  How are you today?  You are looking GOOD!  And that he is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

There is NOTHING like a RAVEN!

We returned home to the mountains above Napa Valley on February 1.  We drove up the driveway and started unpacking to try and beat the coming rain storm and what did I hear?  The raven call.  Within 20 minutes of our arrival Bold was sitting in the tree scolding us.  This was no ordinary squawking- this was- where have you been, where is my egg, how dare you go off and leave me squawking!!!  As soon as I could I got 2 eggs and put them out on the trail for easy pickup.  Bold and Shy came right away and picked up their eggs and flew off with them.
The next day Bold arrived at 7:30 AM, right on time.  The treat of the day was hunks of cheese.  I put the cheese on the deck railing.  I positioned myself behind the curtain so I could get a really good look at Bold when he came down to get the cheese.  I was shocked to see how BIG Bold is compared to the two crows in Shell Beach.  I didn't realize the relative size difference between the two corvid species.  Bold is really a very beautiful big black bird.  So I sing- There is Nothing like a Raven to the tune of There is nothing like a dame!  It is good to be back.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last Day in Paradise

Today is our last day in Shell Beach and I will have to say goodby to my two crow friends.  It has been interesting to watch their antics.  They have many characteristics in common with ravens.  I had never paid much attention to crows before, so this vacation was a great opportunity to watch them up close.  Each morning I put out bread crumbs on one corner of the deck railing for the white crowned sparrows.  On the other end I  put out meat scraps for the crows.  Occasionally a seagull would cruise by to see what was what but I would go outside and scare him off. 
The crow pair sit on the telephone wire and wait for me to disappear before they come down to get the treat.  One at a time they come down and get their snack of the day.  There is not a shy one in this pair.  They are both bold as long as they can't see me.  Now they are both sitting on the telephone wire when I come upstairs in the morning to get my cup of tea. How soon they learn where the good stuff is!!
I am very anxious to get home and see the raven pair.  Will they remember me?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


It has been 19 days since I have seen a raven.  I am raven deprived!!  I have searched the skies of Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo to no avail.  Nary a raven in sight. I miss Bold and Shy and their morning visits at 7:30 AM on the nose.  It is my punishment for going off and leaving Bold and Shy that I have not been able to find a raven.  It is so strange because I always see ravens wherever I go.  HUM- there are brown pelicans, starlings, oyster catchers, blue jays, sea gulls a plenty, surf scooters, buzzards, sparrows, crows, hummingbirds,  egrets, they are all here at the interface of the land and the sea- but no ravens. Well I will keep looking and scanning the skies.   I did see one thing that was so marvelous.  Looking out to sea I saw something sitting on a raft of kelp.  With further looking- it was a grey blue heron riding on a raft of kelp quite a ways from shore. That is something I had never seen- quite something- not as good as a RAVEN- but pretty darn good!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brother Crow in Pismo

Here we are in Pismo Beach looking for ravens.  Bold and Shy are almost on their own.  They will get some treats while we are gone from the house sitter. Then there are the two compost piles they frequent everyday and of course all the squirrels on the road.  I bet they are MAD- no one to feed them at the strike of 7:30 AM!  I better watch my back when I get home!!

The first night we were here Chuck noticed a big black bird flying by.  We could not see the tail in flight to determine whether it was a crow or a raven UNTIL- CAW CAW!!!!  We put out a piece of meat on the railing to see what would happen.  The big black bird came down and did the same motions as a raven.  He sat on the telephone wire and wiped his beak back and forth on the wire numerous times.  Jumped forward and backwards until he got the nerve to fly down to the railing and get the meat.  I could not see his beak very well or his neck but thought it was a very large crow.

The next day I put out some meat on the railing in the full sunlight.  This way I could see the bird clearly if he came to collect the food.  Within 10 minutes- here came two large black birds- one flew down and got a piece of the meat.  No tentative sitting on the telephone wire this time. I got a good look at its tail in flight- definitely a very large crow.  No wedged shaped tail for this guy and lots of Cawing.  The other black bird then came down and got the rest of the food. So it looks like we will have crow friends for the duration of our stay.  These crows have a pretty good spot- right by the beach- several large trees to sit in and survey the landscape and lovely weather- what is not to like for human or crow?