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!