Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Good Raven Week

Today was a good raven week.  I went up to visit friends on Mt. Veeder and got to see the resident raven pair.  What beauties they are.  They are so much bigger than my friendly crow pair that visit me each morning for their peanut fix.  While working in the yard this week I heard raven noises overhead and looked up to the sky.  A really nice looking raven was flying over my head.  He was headed for the open space across the road from my court. 
The yard construction is almost complete and then I can get my platform feeder back in full "operation attract raven".  Something got the egg I put out the other day- didn't see who got it.  I wonder if a hawk would go after an egg?  I saw a very large red tail hawk sitting in a tree in my front yard.  What a sight that was.  It is so great to see all the variety of bird life.  The cute little woodpecker and the white breasted nuthatch visit the suet block everyday.  A nervous little titmouse comes and gets a seed and darts away and then comes back for another black oil sunflower seed.  It is wonderful to watch.  The chesnut backed chickadees are frequent visitors to the seed feeders.  They are very bold.  I can be standing right next to them trying to fill the feeder and they DO NOT move.  It is remarkable that such a small bird is so fearless.  We are hoping to have grosbeaks visit us this summer.  They have arrived up on Mt. Veeder for their breeding season. We did see a single female at our feeder here in the valley last year.  I hope she remembers where we live and brings her friends and babies this year. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

GUEST POST: "Are you smarter than a 9th grader"

This post is an entry by my daughter.  She is a high school math teacher.

The picture below is of two baby ravens that were living right outside of my 2nd story classroom window.  They became celebrities on campus - due to their loud, obnoxious and increasingly frequent squawks for food!  Their striking good looks and large size created a lot of attention too.  The students thought it was hilarious that these two large babies would sit at home, whine and wait for their parents to bring them their meals, while they entertained themselves all day at home.  Hmmm.....sound familiar!?!?!? 

These raven parents smartly set up their home about 5 feet from the window of the only teacher on campus who has a mother obsessed with ravens.  A coincidence?  I think not!   They are smart birds!  Speaking of smart birds..... this was my first year teaching at a public high school.  I had been teaching high level math courses at private schools for the past 7 years.  I was welcomed into the fold by being handed the lowest level classes filled with behavior problems....without a doubt, these two beauties were the most attentive and well behaved students "in" my class!  They get A's!   

The Crow and the Squirrel

I hear the ravens calling in the tall trees near the creek next door but I still do not have them coming to my yard on a regular basis- so sad for me. BUT- I have Mr. Crow who spends most of the day hanging around my yard, up in the trees and sitting on my newly installed arbor in the backyard.  He calls first thing in the morning and I go out and give him some peanuts.  This is when the fun starts.  The squirrels also want the peanuts.  Up on Mt. Veeder the ravens would get the peanuts before the squirrels could get them.  Here the squirrels are faster than the crows.  Mr. Crow was on the ground just getting ready to grab the perfect peanut when the squirrel charged him and Mr. Crow backed away and the squirrel got the peanut.  A squirrel is about the same size as a crow.  A raven is three times as big as a crow so he has no fear of a squirrel.  Many times I watched the ravens play tricks with the squirrels.  When the squirrel's back was turned, the raven would sneak up and pull the squirrel's tail.  It was hilarious to watch.  The TRICKSTER for sure.  I am getting pretty mad at those squirrels.  They have destroyed several of my bird feeders.  They actually knocked one down and dragged it off somewhere.  I still have not found it.  I have now invested in some supposedly squirrel proof feeders.  Tell it to the squirrels.  The baffles on poles seem to work the best to keep the squirrels off the feeders.  They get enough peanuts every morning so I am not feeling sorry for the squirrels. 
My backyard is currently under construction.  We have had all the grass removed and have had paths and rock lined flower beds installed.  Grass is such a waste of water in the dry summer climate that we have here in Napa.  Although so far it has rained so much in May and June that I am astounded.  We will eventually have drip irrigation to the plants as the long months of no rain will return soon.  As a result my platform feeder with eggs keeps being moved around.  Soon it will have a permanent spot and I will go back to the egg and raven watch.  Meanwhile I can hear the ravens in the neighborhood and hopefully I will have a raven friend before long.

The painting is by Kathy Denett of Mt. Veeder, Napa.  I bought it for my new garden shed.  Must decorate those walls.  Larry and Bob- aren't they cute?  Perched in the vineyards high above the Napa Valley on Mt. Veeder at the Wing Canyon Vineyards/Winery- very good wine too I might add.  Try some, you will like it!!