Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ravens in the Neighborhood

The weather has been so nice lately, so I have been outside poking around the yard.  Someone ate the egg in the platform feeder!  There were traces of shell left and that is all.  Yesterday I heard a pair of ravens while I was in the yard.  They were talking back and forth, doing their raven thing.  I can hear a raven call immediately if there is one, and it is music to my ears.  I could determine the direction of the sound but it was across the creek and I have no access to the creek.  This is so different than on Mt. Veeder where I could walk acres without any fences or barriers.  Here it is all fences and no access. Denied only for people, not the birds-fortunately for them.  Hearing the ravens gave me a happy feeling because I know there is a raven pair in the neighborhood.  I put out a cooked chicken carcass on the driveway thinking this might lure a raven in, but no luck.  No animal or bird bothered it so that indicates that there are no raccoons around here.  That is surprising because the creek runs through the yard next door.  Everyone that visited our house had to comment on the carcass in the driveway, so I finally gave up and removed it.  I have not given up the raven search however.  Every few days I hear the ravens.  They are here somewhere.  I do have a bird following in my little space in Napa Valley.   Every time I go out into the yard, the blue jays show up.  I look like a big peanut to them.  I oblige them by putting out the nuts.  The crows show up every morning about 8:30 AM looking for said nuts.  If I am not too lazy, I get up and put some out for the crows.  So life in the burbs is OK and there are many birds around.  We have a little tit mouse who comes for black oil sunflower seeds.  What a cute little fellow.  We have many American Goldfinches at the niger seed feeder.  So all is well in the flatlands of Napa Valley.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ravens of Elk, California

This past weekend we went to a gig with the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers.  It was held at the Greenwood Pier Inn in the tiny hamlet of Elk, California.  Elk is on the north coast in Mendocino County.  Our location at the Inn was on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  This afforded a great view of a nearby promontory where there lived- what else? a pair of nosy ravens.  Ah yes the ravens would fly by the windows and check us out.  Oh alas and alack, I had no eggs but I did have some delicious oatmeal, walnut and raisen cookies from a bakery in Healdsburg.  I broke up the cookies and put a piece out on the little deck- whap- raven scooped it up.  I loved to see his tail feathers spread open as he prepared to almost land and scoop up the cookie.  I repeated this process until I ran out of cookies.  Only a little piece was left and a Stellar's jay came in and got it.  What fun for me!
Over the promotory there had to be strong thermal winds.  The ravens would hang in the air above the ground for minutes at a time.  They looked like Harriers or Marsh Hawks in this regard.  I had never seen ravens do this behavior.  They also gave great aerial displays, shooting upward and then diving straight down toward the ground.  The pair often flew in tandem- side by side and then one right over the other.  The Blue Angels could get some ideas from this pair.  It was a great sight to see.  I also always appreciate hearing the raven calls as they are sorely lacking at my new house.  It was a great weekend for raven watching and Scottish music.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where did they go?

Well here it is the New Year in the flatlands.  All is well and the sun is shining.  Chuck was outside and saw two ravens flying overhead.  He came and called to me.  We hurried back out the door nearly getting stuck as we both went through the door at the same time!  Alas and alack, they had flown away.  No stopping for the lonely egg that resides on the platform feeder.  Yesterday I heard a pair of ravens having a conversation but I could not locate them.  My good binoculors got lost in the move so I must get a new pair so I can see the birds.  The spotting scope is too large to haul around for a quick look.  My bird feeder area in front of my sewing window is very busy.  I have a black oil sunflower tube feeder, a suet feeder and a niger sock out there.  A very pretty woodpecker comes to the suet feeder.  I am not sure what kind it is- I was so used to the piliated woodpeckers up on the mountain.  Now I have this pretty little guy.  The gold finches are here eating the niger seeds.  The sunflower seeds attract the chickadees and the red breasted and the white breasted nuthatches.  The nuthatches also go for the suet.  I also saw a tit mouse the other day.
My most enjoyment comes from the scrub jays.  I began by putting peanuts in the shell out on the driveway to attract the ravens or the crows.  The crows came but were too slow and would only get about half of the peanuts because the jays would dive in and pick up the nuts right in front of them.  I never did see a raven come for a nut.  So sad.  So I figured if the jays liked the nuts so much I would see if they would come closer to the house.  I began to put the nuts on the railing of the porch.  Bingo-they came and got the nuts off the railing.  NOW- when I get up in the morning, there is a jay sitting on the railing waiting for breakfast!  How soon they learn who the bird lovers are.  They are so funny- just like the ravens.  They pick up each nut and shake it.  They want to get the BIGGEST and BEST one.  Then they go and hide the nut in the ivy under the redwood trees.  Then they are back for another nut- lickity split.  I wonder if they ever retrieve the hidden nuts?   I will have to watch and see if I can see them retrieve one.  So life goes on with or without a friendly raven- but I have not given up the quest.  I may have to find a pair over in the open space and walk over there most days with a food treat.  I can do that.