Monday, July 25, 2011

A Good Year for Ravens

I have had several reports from friends around the Napa Valley that it has been a good year for raven babies.  Usually my pair on Mt. Veeder had 2 babies per year.  This year I am hearing that raven pairs have raised 4 babies- wow!  A lot of raven racket.  By the end of July the babies will be pests for their parents.  The parents are now teaching the babies to feed on their own BUT that does not mean that the young ones have stopped begging and yelling for food NOW!  The crow babies around my house are doing the same thing.  They still want to be fed.  So much easier than getting it yourself!  I wonder why this is such a good year for ravens.  We had alot of rain this year and the weather has been very cool.  That is the only thing that I can point to but why would that affect ravens?  The mysteries of Nature.
Two days ago I was working in my garden when a raven flew right over my head and croaked.  Alas there was no egg in the feeder because the crows had demolished them for breakfast.  So I ran in the house and replaced the eggs and then stayed inside to see if the raven would visit the feeder.  No raven came, so I went back out to finish my planting.  Then I heard them, two ravens flying overhead.  I hadn't waited long enough- boo hoo.  They flew away.  BUT- the ravens definitely know where the eggs are!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Yesterday evening at 6:30 PM we attended the Emerson String Quartet concert that was part of the Annual Napa Valley Festival Del Sole.  It was held at the Castello di Amoroso outside of Calistoga.  The castle is a reconstruction of a medieval castle from the mind of Daryl Sattui.  It is quite wonderful in design and appearance. The concert was held in an enclosed courtyard within the castle walls.  The stage was setup against the facade of the chapel wall.  From our seats we could look over the cross on the top of the chapel and see the sky and the towering conifers beyond.  The sky was a robin egg blue with fluffy white clouds.  It was quite lovely.  But HARK- what did I see- RAVEN gliding slowly back and forth in the sky.  WOW- that gave me something to watch during the sad/macabre Bartok music being played.  A linnet (house finch) was sitting on the top of the cross and singing it's heart out during the Bartok recital.  Ha- it didn't like the music either!  I could also hear the raven calls echoing across the valley- sublime.

As night drew in the ravens began to fly into a large conifer that was located directly behind the castle.  They had selected this tree for their night time roost.  I counted 20 ravens coming in for the night.  It was a lovely sight.  Once the ravens were settled, the music improved to a happier Franz Schubert.  All in all it was a lovely visit to the castle and it's raven neighbors.

This morning there was such corvid racket.  A baby crow was sitting in the platform feeder begging for a peanut.  I had put peanuts out first thing this morning.  The baby is of course as big as the parent and there it is begging and squawking like a maniac.  Hilarious.  I put eggs in the platform feeder later in the day as the RAVEN seems to come by in the late afternoon.  The crows will peck and eat the eggs if I put them out in the morning.  So now I have a schedule, the birds have trained me- crows in the morning, ravens in the afteroon.  My life is run by the birds, not, my life is for the birds- a big difference there!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


It finally happened!  One year to the day exactly!  Chuck saw a raven fly into our little back yard, pick up the egg in the platform feeder and fly off with it.  It was so unexpected and I was so mad that I didn't see it.  As soon as he told me, I ran out and replaced the egg in the platform feeder.  Three days later I saw a big black bird gliding over the roof top as I was working in the frontyard.  However I could not see the bird very clearly.  I ran to the back yard to see if the egg was gone.  Sure enough the egg was gone!!!  Still I had not seen the bird with the egg.  BUT- just now as I was waking from a nap, I SAW IT!  A bird black bird was sitting on the top of the new arbor in the backyard.  It flew over to the platform feeder, adjusted the egg in its beak and took flight!!!  WOW WOW- I saw it with my own eggs, I mean eyes!!!  Soon after a couple of crows came around and were making all kinds of racket- they do not like the ravens in their territory.  After all they are the king of peanuts and of all they observe.  The next step is now to make friends with the raven.  I don't know if this will be possible because of my band of crows that hang out in our court.  The one pair of crows is here every morning for their peanut fix.  As soon as I put out the peanuts the two crows begin to crow and alert their friends that peanuts are out!  They seem to share as long as there are enough to go around.  The baby crows are still with them.  I can tell by the sound of their calls and their very skittish behavior.  A grown bird will approach a peanut straight on and pick it up.  The babies- jump forward and back, forward and back just like the baby ravens used to do up on Mt. Veeder.  It is comical to watch!!
Oh I am so happy- a raven of my own!!!  Now I must go and replace the egg in the feeder.  A friend of mine up on the mountain has a dozen eggs for me.  I must go tomorrow and pick them up as Mr. Raven has found me and all is right with life in the valley. 
It appears that all is all right for a number of people in the valley as we saw seven hot air ballons over the house the other morn.  Such a pretty sight.  Still that couldn't beat the time up on Mt. Veeder when I saw a hot air balloon coming up my driveway.  It was a couple of hotdoggers fooling around in a hot air balloon.  They were about 20 feet off the ground.  When they got to the part of the driveway that swung left they had to really put the gas to the unit or they would have run into the forest which was straight ahead.  What a sight- what a thrill!!  You just never know what one can see in a day.  Ravens, balloons, oh my!!!!