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.