Monday, October 14, 2013

Fun Raven visits to Mt. Veeder

On Friday afternoon we went up to Mt. Veeder to visit our former next door neighbors.  They have a lovely deck and I was enjoying myself when I heard the ravens somewhere in the neighborhood.  I began calling RAVENS, RAVENS, and here they came.  I walked down to the meadow to see the ravens and to put out a treat.  They were very agitated however and flew off.  I was very disappointed not be to able to spend some time with them.  Then I HEARD the problem.  I heard a crow calling.  The raven pair DO NOT like it when crows try to invade their territory.  This had happened when we were living next door.  Crows tried to come into our little creek canyon environment and the ravens succeeded in running them off.  Looks like it was happening again.  There was alot of cawing and croaking going on.  In the end the crow/crows left and the juvenile ravens started coming in for the night.  Quite a few were flying about checking out the redwood trees for the perfect over night tree.  How wonderful to see nature close up.  Thus fell the night with all the ravens tucked up safely in a redwood tree.  How lucky is that?
Next day we went to a wonderful barbq party across the way and down hill a bit from our former residence.  There is a raven pair that lives in the vicinity. They are fed treats by our wonderful former neighbor who used to take care of Andy cat.   These ravens were flying all around and very close to me.  The hosts of the party have two very tall poles with red and white flags located by their swimming pool.  A raven sat on the top of each pole and looked quite majestic.  I was sorry to hear that their two daughters, 12 and 14 years of age, are afraid of the birds.  Ravens and black birds in general get such a bad rap in western European and thus American derived culture.  So different from the Northwest Indian tribes of the North American continent who had it right.  Raven brought the sun and thus the light to the world.  That is what I prefer to believe.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Summertime RAVEN Idyll Ends

It was a sad day, September 30, 2013, when we moved our belongings out of the Lokoya cabin and headed for home in the flat lands of Napa Valley.  Bold and Shy raven sat very quietly on a tree branch above us as we moved our few possessions out of the cabin and stowed them in the car.  It was like a repeat of the day three years ago when we left our home on Mt. Veeder.  I swear they knew what was happening and they were very solemn.  I left them lots of peanuts and three eggs.  As we left I saw that they were on the deck railing enjoying the bounty of peanuts in the shell.  I had two months to enjoy their company and the very beautiful views from the cabin deck and for this I am very grateful.  I also enjoyed the opportunity to paint watercolors without any distractions of normal life (laundry and all that).  So all and all it was a lovely experience which I hope to repeat next year.  As ravens live 35 years, I hope Bold and Shy will still be around next year.  This afternoon I am going up to Mt. Veeder to visit my former next door neighbors.  The raven pair often hang around their house and root around in a spot below their deck.  I am taking a couple of eggs just in case.  I will yell RAVENS and see if they appear.  Could be a good thing.

Friday, September 13, 2013


What fun it is to be back up on Mt. Veeder.  The weather has been great and the views from the TOP of the World have been spectacular!  We usually go up to the mountain in mid morning.  We take our lunch then settle down on the deck to enjoy the view.  Chuck likes to read and I like to paint watercolor post cards to send to my grandaughter.  She really appreciates them- she is 14 months old and wants to eat them.
I begin my sojourn on the deck by yelling RAVEN- don't the neighbors love this!  They know a wacky woman is up there.  However, not to worry, Lokoya Lodge is full of interesting people.  If I can hear raven sounds, I know Bold and Shy are nearby.  If I can't hear them, I call anyway, and lo and behold they show up.  The sit in a tree branch over our heads and observe us.  There are those HUMANS that have the eggs.  How can we get an egg out of them?  So I very obediently put two chicken eggs out.  I place one on the deck railing with some peanuts in the shell and the other egg on a tree stump located behind where we sit.  We cannot see the stump without turning around.  So now the fun begins.  Bold raven flies over to a tree near the stump.  Bold then carefully walks down the tree trunk to get closer to the egg, then carefully hops over, gets on the stump, picks up the egg and flies off with it in his beak.  I am sneaking peeks during this performance.  It is quite fun to watch as Bold as he carefully surveys the surroundings as he approaches the egg.  I really enjoy watching our Bold raven conquer all.  The last time we visited Bold took the egg and parked it in a tree branch and then he shared it with his mate.  They both enjoyed the repast and then sat there intermittently holding each others bill and cleaning each others feathers.  Ah true love- raven style!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Return to Mt. Veeder

Recently I had an epithany of sorts.  My beloved cat Andy of 15 years died.  It made me realize how short life is and that I had better start doing the things I really want to do.  With this is mind something wonderful happened.  The owners of Lokoya Lodge called me.  Lokoya Lodge is very close to my former home on Mt. Veeder, especially as the raven flies.  I had told them if they have a rental come available to please call me and they DID!  I hurried up there and rented a cabin in the tall trees for 2 months.  These cabins were built in the 1920's as camping sites.  It is one room with a small kitchen and bathroom and a glorious view across the valley.  It looks at Madonna's former residence way in the distance.  Oh how lucky I was to get this piece of paradise for 2 months.  The second day we were up there a pair of ravens showed up and I welcomed them and called to them and had a chat.  I left 2 eggs and peanuts on the deck railing before we left for the day to go home.  The next day the peanuts and eggs were still there.  I was disappointed but could hear the raven pair in the trees.  The next time we went up there the peanuts and eggs were gone.  The neighbor told me that maybe the racoons got them.  I didn't think so- they make a mess and there was no mess.  About this time I looked up and there they were- Bold and Shy- sitting on a branch over my head.  I was so happy!  There they were!  We talked and I wanted to put out another egg.  I found a tree stump by the side door where I could place an egg.  Chuck and I were both inside the cabin for a minute and a raven came down and grabbed the egg and flew off!  Yeah- I hadn't seen that in a long time.  I went outside and raven returned to sit on a branch over my head.  Raven sat there for an hour as we talked raven/human talk and had a great time.  Raven eventually flew off only to return in a short while.  We were at the cabin for about 5 hours and the raven pair hung around here and there in the trees for the whole time.  Before I left I put out an egg and more peanuts.
I can't tell you how happy I am with this turn of events.  I guess the old axiom- one door closes, another opens, applies in my case.  I have been so sad and unhappy with the death of my dear kitty Andy.  He can never be replaced but reuniting with the raven pair has done much to lift my spirits.  Nature is a wonderful thing.  Take time to enjoy what is around you.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ravens Delight!

The weather has been very hot here in Northern California this week.  Everyone is complaining, including me.  This hot weather reminds me of the weather in Napa when I was growing up.  It was hot, hot , hot and we spent the whole day at the high school swimming pool for $.25.  Wow- those days are long gone.  For relief from the heat we decided to go to Bodega Bay for the day.  We loaded the van with cushion, sleeping bags, pillows, books and snacks and off we went.  I was hoping to get cool and see the resident pair of ravens at Bodega Head. 
It was in the high 90's in Napa when we left home.  When we got to Bodega we could see a fog bank at a far distance out at sea.  At Bodega Head the wind was blowing very hard and it was COLD!!! Wow!!  We parked the van so that the back of the van opened with a great view of the pounding surf below.  We had to put on jackets and get under the sleeping bags.  This was wonderful.
We were there several hours and then the ravens showed up!  Not 2 but 3 ravens.  Number 3 must have been a juvenile.  They were having such a good time, diving, turning, wheeling around in the wind.  They let the wind carry them here and there.  They looked to be having such a great time in the wind.  They flew back and forth in front of the open van back door.  I didn't have anything to feed them- bad RavenMaven, bad, bad.  Where are the eggs, the peanuts, the dried cat food??  I forgot these essential items in my haste to get cool.  It was a wonderful treat to see the Ravens Delight in the cool ocean winds.
The week before we had an adventure of looking at a Mt. Veeder fixer.  This would be a cottage on Mt. Veeder built who knows when, falling off its foundation, with a bad well and an unknown septic system.  The attraction of the place was that it was 2 blocks from where we used to live on Mt. Veeder. While I was there I could hear Bold and Shy (my resident ravens) on one side of the property and the Smith's raven pair calling from the other side.  Wow- raven heaven for me.  The fixer is a short sale but alas and alack- my husband did a spreadsheet analysis of what it would take to make this place liveable.  What a money pit it would be, so no Mt. Veeder fixer for me, sigh, double sigh.
So for now, I am a crow's friend.  Mr. Crow comes every morning and every evening before dusk.  He gets his peanuts everyday.  Right now there is a young crow out front begging for food so I am off to sprinkle peanuts on the driveway.  The crows have to be quick as the blue jays are much quicker and get the peanuts before you know it!  Life among the corvids continues to be wonderful!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Life with Crows

I have been visiting the ravens up on Mt. Veeder about once a week just to hear their chatter and to see them do their acrobatics in the air.  It is always a thrill but my life is with crows at the present.
A few weeks ago I was driving in my neighborhood and I saw a young crow walking down the sidewalk dragging one wing on the ground.  I felt so bad for him, so I parked the car and got out to look him over.  He tried to run away from me and ran under a bush.  I looked around for something to put him in.  I asked a couple of neighbors if they had a box I could use.  They looked at me like I was crazy.  One lady slammed the door in my face.  So much for helping nature in Napa Valley.  So I got a sweater that I had in the car, got under the bush and carefully wrapped the sweater around the crow.  It was amazing how little the bird weighed.  I then drove to my vet's office.  They told me to go to Silverado Vets where the wildlife rescue group would pick up the bird.  They were so nice at Silverado Vet.  They came out and collected the bird who was now sitting on my dash board.  He had not stay wrapped up in the sweater very long.  The wildlife rescue called me later and told me that they had him in a wing wrap.  That was the best I could do and to make a donation to the Napa Valley Wildlife Rescue.  It was rewarding to know that there is a group that cares for injured wildlife.
I now have a crow friend.  The crow comes every morning about 8:30 AM.  He used to come earlier but I told him NO NO- too early- NO peanuts at 6:30 AM.  He now comes at 8:30 AM regular as clockwork.  He sits on the rose arbor and waits for me to see him.  He used to crow and make alot of racket but I told him NO NO- too much noise.  Now he sits quietly and waits for me to appear.  I then throw out a bunch of unsalted peanuts in the shell.  It is then a free for all- crow, blue jays and squirrels appear like magic.  Mr. Crow can only stuff two peanuts in his bill at a time.  He flies off and comes right back for more.  Meanwhile the jays and squirrels are cleaning up the peanuts, so I put some more out so crow gets his share.  It is fun to watch.  I know the jays must have a sentinal who watches for the peanut lady because they are there in a New York minute when the nuts are thrown out the door.
I can now go out the door while the crow sits on the arbor. He used to fly off but now he stays put to see what I am up to.  He is nosy like the ravens on Mr. Veeder.
The other morning I heard alot of crow racket.  I looked out the front door.  I saw crows sitting on either side of a hawk up in my neighbors big cedar tree.  They harrassed this hawk until it finally flew away with the crows in pursuit.  I used to see the raven pair do the same thing up on Mt. Veeder.  Crows and ravens really do have alot of the same behaviors.  Too bad Mr. Crow can't do the acrobatics in the air like raven.  I guess their wing span is just not large enough.  Mr. Crow has to flap his wings alot to get where he is going but crows are cool, there is no doubt.  And so we have our daily meet up with peanuts.  It suits me just fine.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Crows are More like Ravens Every Day

I have had a report from Mt. Veeder that Bold and Shy have been landing on my former neighbor's deck.  They no longer leave when the owners go in and out of the house.  Must of been that big bag of peanut treats I took up there for them to feed to my raven buddies.  They know that they might get a treat. So- why leave?
I have been watching the crows lately.  They have many behaviours similar to ravens.  The young crows are flying around with the parents now.  I have seen a parent feeding a baby on many occasions now.  The "babies" carry on and make alot of noise until they get some food stuffed into their mouths.  They are VERY loud- just like the raven babies.  They are also very large babies who look like they could find their own food but why do it when they can get some by squawking!
The other thing that happens now is that when I go outside to work in the garden- Mr. Crow arrives and sits in the oak tree.  He must watch the yard.  He gives me a call to let me know he is there.  I then go get some peanuts and put them in the tray feeder.  Subsequently I go inside the house after I fill the feeder so that he can get the peanuts.  He is still too nervous to come down to the feeder if I am in the yard. He has to beat out the blue jays for the peanuts.  I know the blue jays watch the yard because they appear as soon as I put out peanuts.  The jays grab a peanut, bury it and go back for more- they are FAST!
This crow behavior is different from the ravens.  The ravens were not bothered by my presence.  I could put out food on the deck railing and they would not fly away if they were nearby.  They would then keep one eye on me while they picked up the food and flew off with it.  It maybe that their great size affords them some protection so that makes them braver.  Or were they just used to me and my behavior?
When I work in the garden Mr. Crow often sits above me in a tree and makes the clicking sound similar to the one the ravens make.  It is of higher pitch but very similar.  It is like he is talking to me.  He must be the sentinal crow for when I put out food he starts squawking very loudly to alert his family group.
Another thing I have noticed is that the crow's call is usually 3 notes in a row. However when he is calling to me, it is a four note call.  I find that very interesting.
So- the more I learn about crows, the more I appreciate them.  I still miss Bold and Shy.  I may never have a relationship with a pair of birds like I had on Mt. Veeder- but at least I had the experience once in my lifetime.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


RAVEN TALES chronicles the wild and wacky adventures of RAVEN, the most powerful and trickiest trouble-maker of First Nation's folklore.  I first saw the Raven Tales on the National Geographic channel.  I have not been able to find them since.  So for Christmas I said to myself, what would I really like??  Hum- a Scottish 1890 sewing kit? No- got that last year.  Hum- Raven Tales.  This is how I could share my love of ravens with my new grand daughter Malia.  The tales are in a cartoon form but tell funny, magical and heart felt stories a child could understand.  So I joined Raven, Eagle and Frog and their friends, the First People in the land before time and bought the whole set of DVDs and I couldn't be happier.  If you ever get a chance to see these, do it and you will be carried away to another time.
Well Sunday's football game was equivocal for me.  I live in 49er land BUT who could not root for a team with the name of RAVENS?  So I had to skulk around the chips, dips and pizza and say a little- YEAH- for the Ravens.  Very softly you understand for fear of retribution from the red and gold folks. So glad that football is over!!
I found the most marvelous book in a used bookstore down in San Louis Obispo.  We were visiting our favorite place, Shell Beach which is next to Pismo Beach.  It is "The Art of Emily Carr".  It was discarded out of the Westridge School Library in Pasadena.  Lucky for me!!  It is the art of Emily Carr who was born in Victoria on Vancover Island.  She painted the most characteristic features of that region- a unique and vanishing Indian culture and a powerful coastal nature. She painted many of the totem poles that were falling into disrepair as the Indians had moved away.  There are two raven paintings that most affected me, Cumshewa and Big Raven.  Of Cumshewa,  a great wooden raven mounted on a rather low pole, his wings flattened to his side, a few feet from him stuck  up an empty pole.  His mate had sat there but she had rotted away long ago, leaving him moss-grown, diplapidated and alone to watch the dead Indian bones.  Young trees had grown up around the old raven, sheltering him from the tearing winds now that he was old and rotting.  The memory of Cumshewa is of a great lonesomeness smothered in a blur of rain.  The paintings evoke many feelings and emotions.  I recommend this book highly.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


My New Year's Resolution for 2013 was to put a large chicken egg out into my platform feeder every day.  One day up on Mt. Veeder I put out an old chicken egg as a way to get rid of it and not waste it.  I figured some wild creature up on the mountain would find it and be happy to eat it.   And that is how I first met Bold and Shy, the Mt. Veeder raven pair.  In the past I have put an egg out in the platform feeder at our new home in the valley.  I have seen a raven come in, pick up the egg and fly off with it a very few times.  Most of time I have a band of crows that visit the feeder.  Crows and ravens don't mix very well I have discovered.  HOWEVER, hope springs eternal.  I know there is a raven pair in the vineyard/park/creek area across from my suburban court.  So in 2013 I hoped to attract them to my backyard feeder.
So this morning I loaded up the feeder.  One egg, left over raisen bread, chicken scraps, unsalted peanuts in the shell and some cat food remains in a small dish.  I was looking out the window and HARK- a raven was trying to land in the platform feeder.  He tried several times, flying down and then soaring up.  At last he was able to land and he had a feast!!!   Oh was I excited and happy.  I could hear some crows in the background.  I am sure they were none too happy but they did not challenge the big guy.  I hope this is the start of a beatiful friendship!
Tomorrow I will put out another egg and some peanuts and see what happens.  I am going to be very diligent about this and see if the raven will return.  2013 could be my lucky raven year!