Thursday, January 21, 2021

Visit to Bodega Headlands and RAVENS on A GREAT NEW Day!

 January 20 dawned beautiful and sunny. Watched the inauguration of President Biden on TV and then packed up the old van with pad, pillows, blankets, cooler, books and peanuts in the shell for the ravens.

The last time we visited Bodega Bay it was so windy it was hard to stand up.  We saw NO ravens that day.  That was very unusual.  I think the wind was keeping them hunkered down.  The waves were huge and crashing on the beach and rocks.  Very spectacular!  No whales in sight which was a good sign for the crab fishermen.  There was no local crab this year for the holidays.  This was sad for people but good for the whales.  The whales were still passing by on their annual trip from Alaska to Baja.  They get tangled up in the crab pot lines so no crabbing until the whales have left the area.  The season has now opened so we came home with two delicious just off the boat Dungeness crabs for dinner!

In the 1960's there was a plan to install a nuclear energy plant on the Bodega Headlands.  They started construction by digging a huge hole where the reactor? was to be installed.  The plan got cancelled when an earthquake fault was found in the area.  It is now a California State Beach area. Hurrah for the wildlife including my raven pair. And hurrah for me being able to visit this beautiful spot whenever I want.

I got set up in the back of the van with my pillows, my drink and books.  I was keeping an eye out for ravens.  Finally one flew by and honked at me.  I am beginning to wonder if they recognize the van.  I know the ravens on Mount Veeder knew my car.  When driving up the mountain road they would see me and follow me home...FEED US we are starving!! I got outside with my bag of peanuts and waited and here they came.  Our parking spot was right up against the edge of the cliff so we could lay in the back of the van and see and hear the waves.  Because of this I could not feed the ravens right by my van.  I had to walk along the cliff edge to a spot where I could throw the peanuts and the ravens could retrieve them.  This was fun.  Of course I had to scare off the seagulls once and awhile.  What I found interesting was that not one person in all the other vehicles parked along the cliff paid any attention to me or the ravens. Most of them were staring at their phones. What is with that??  You are in a beautiful place with ravens, you are sitting in your car or on the back of a pickup or a van/SUV tailgate  and you are staring at a phone and not looking at the ocean? Ah the mysteries of life. Well I had a great time and no one said a thing or showed any interest at all.

One thing has really changed at Bodega Headlands. Before Covid the Headlands had very few visitors during the week. We always tried to come during the week days for this reason.  The other visitors were frequently bus loads of students come for the day with their lunch and having a wonderful time. Now the parking lot is packed on week days and it is tricky to get a parking spot near the cliff edge.  You have to arrive early if you want a good viewing spot. One can really see how the virus has affected society and norms of behavior.  Unfortunately their are no school buses coming now.  BUT the ravens do not seem to care as long as there are PEANUTS!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

My Crystal Court Bold and Shy Ravens

 It has been a long time since I wrote about my Raven friends.  It took quite awhile to attract a pair of

ravens to my house on Crystal Court in Napa Valley.  Fortunately we are located very close to open space and vineyards where there lives a pair of nice perky ravens.  In their flyovers of the neighborhood they finally noticed the white chicken eggs that were placed on the ground in hopes they would attract a raven or two.  Now a days they come every morning around 8 AM and hoot and call for their breakfast.  I jump? out of bed and deliver their feast of chicken eggs, meat scraps and unsalted peanuts in the shell.  What more could a raven want??  Jack the cat also goes out with me to deliver the food.  He likes to watch the ravens.  They pay no attention to my 20 lb cat!  They are all about getting the food before the turkey vultures notice there is something to eat.  

2020 has been a really weird year with lockdowns, then stores and restaurants open, then closed again.  Since I am in the age group that is subject to the virus I have been staying home most of the time, especially since there is nowhere to go!  But I have the RAVENS to entertain me.  I have been going to estate sales with my friend who buys vintage clothes for Etsy site.  I have a look around at the sale for odd things that I might need?  I bought a very nice metal table and chairs at one sale.  I put it under the redwood trees in the front of the house near the raven feeding site.  I can sit out there.. FOREST BATHING..under the redwood trees and watch the ravens. Sometimes they hang upside down from a redwood branch just over my head.  They are very tricky birds.  We entertain each other  and I appreciate the break in what could otherwise be a boring Covid day.

2020 has also been a weird year for the Napa area due to the wildfires.  The fires did not come close to us this year like they did in 2017 but the air quality this year was horrible during the fires.  The entire town of Calistoga had to evacuate for a week.  My fiber group friends all had to leave home and hole up wherever they could with their pets.  The power was off and then it was on here in Napa.  We have a generator now to power the house when PG&E power goes down.  I thought when we left Mt. Veeder we were done with generators..not so!  My daughter in Sonoma has a generator now too.  Life can be very uncertain in these times.

Well I am back with tales of ravens and life in the valley.  The raven flies by the windows in the morning to let me know he is here and ready to eat.  Up on Mt Veeder we had floor to ceiling windows.  Raven figured out where I slept.  He would perch on the window frame and bang on the window glass to make sure I knew he wanted some food.  Chuck was worried raven would break the glass.  It was double paned and did not break. Raven cannot perch on the windows here on Crystal Court so he does the fly by.  Really these birds are very smart.  And so in this time of Covid I am entertained by my raven friends, reading many book, crocheting, cooking too many good things and Zooming with friends and planting a hummingbird garden.  Life is good with my very nice husband Chuck, my fat cat Jack and those opportunistic RAVEN friends! 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Fun with Ravens at Sea Ranch

Sea Ranch is a beautiful seaside development at the northern end of Sonoma County.  We like to rent homes there that overlook the ocean.  Last week we rented a house right on the cliffs overlooking the ocean with glass windows all along the wall of the house that faced the ocean.  What a view.  When we first arrived there was a parade of whales making their way toward Alaska.  One after the other we could see the whale's water/vapor spouts and then their backs as they dove under the waves.  It was really a grand sight.  After getting settled I noticed a nearby tree with ravens!
These were really BIG ravens.  They were flying all around but would return to the top of the tree periodically. I had a good time watching them for the 4 days that we visited with them.  We had purchased some chicken eggs that we were not going to use so...raven food.  I put an egg on top of a small dirt mound just outside the ocean view window.  Before you knew it- here comes raven wheeling in the wind and scooping up the egg.  Wow- such agility in the strong wind.  The weather was unsettled with high wind/rain/sun..didn't bother raven.  We put out the rest of the eggs over a period of time and were rewarded with raven coming and picking each one up and flying off to the nearby tree.  I always get a kick out of seeing raven grab an egg and fly off.  It was a good raven visit.
Back at home I had discontinued putting food out for raven because a pair of vultures figured out raven's schedule of visiting around 9:30 AM for food.  The pair of vultures would sit on my neighbors roof like VULTURES and wait for me to appear with the food.  Raven never got any.  Vultures are so much bigger than raven- out competed.
It has been awhile and the vultures are no longer visiting each morning.  I put an egg out the other morning and raven picked it up-yeah!  I may be back in business with raven.  I hope so but I will watch the skies for the big black vultures.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Whenever we go over to the ocean for the day I always take some peanuts for the ravens.  We park our old van up on the Bodega Head and look for the raven pair.  They live in a grove of trees some distance from the parking lot.  They invariably come around flying along the edge of the cliff in front of the van.  So I get my peanuts at the ready and throw some out for the ravens.  The trouble is- the seagulls really like peanuts too!  The crafty seagulls swoop in and sometimes- read most of the time- get the peanuts before the ravens have time to consider their strategy.  I have used various ploys in the past to get the peanuts to the ravens BUT this time we had another problem.
Starlings!!  This is the first time I have seen starlings around Bodega Bay.  They are proliferating all over California and now have made it all the way across the country to the Pacific shore.  Why someone brought them over here from Europe I do not know.  They are not very pretty, are very loud, eat grapes, and generally are obnoxious.  When I was young I used to spend the summers with my grandmother in York, PA.  My grandmother loved birds in general but despised starlings.  At night they would congregate and sit on the electric wires above the side walk and make noise and poop on the sidewalk. She would go outside with a pot and spoon and bang on it to scare them away.  It did not work.  She was afraid they would steal the babies from the robin nest in the cherry tree in our backyard.
So here I was in Bodega Bay trying to give treats to the raven pair and what do have for company- a bunch of starlings. (I think a bunch of starlings is called a mummeration) They are faster than seagulls and ravens.  I throw out a peanut and they are there to grab it.  They are very FAST.  They are survivors. So what can you do??  Starlings just want to eat. So the solution next time is to walk up to the raven hangout in the trees and give them treats before the starlings and seagulls find out what is up!!!
So here at home in Napa yesterday there was a real food fight.  I had put out a hunk of cooked chicken for the ravens and some peanuts.  I heard a racket outside so I went to see what was going on.  Two ravens were on the ground near the food with a buzzard circling around overhead.  The ravens were squawking and making all kinds of noise but the buzzard prevailed.  He swooped down and picked up the chicken and took flight.   What I learned from this is that I have to limited the size of the pieces of meat that I put out for the ravens.  A bigger piece attracts the turkey vultures (buzzards) and makes it worth their while to fly down and pick it up.  Poor ravens- they only had peanuts for lunch yesterday.
A note on the effects of the Napa firestorm of last October 2017.  Behind my former home on Mt. Veeder there was a 2000 year old sequoia tree.  From my window I could often see raven sitting on the top of this tree.  From there he had a panoramic view of the hills and Mt. Veeder Road.  A friend had gone up to check on the tree and had taken a picture.  I could not believe it.  It was completely black from the fire.  It had survived for 2000 years.  It survived the logging of the redwoods that took place after the earthquake in San Francisco at the turn of the last century.  It's unusual shape had deemed it not worthy for lumber to rebuild San Francisco and now it looked doomed.  I am so sad.  We will have to wait to see if the cambium layers are still alive under the blackened bark.  We will look for sprouts of green this Spring- hope upon hope that it is still alive.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bold and Shy have a new home

Last night we had a picking party as in playing music with guitars/ukuleles/violins/bass and mandolin.  My  5 year old granddaughter was right in there with her ukulele- singing along.  A fine time was had by all!  It was a get together to celebrate surviving 2017.  Our bass player lost his house in the Mt. Veeder fire.  Our guitar player had her house partially burn down.  Our former neighbors on Mt. Veeder just got to move back into their house now since they finally got the power restored to their home.  They lost their studio and winemaking facility in the fire.  It has been a hard year all the way around.  The good news of the night is that Bold and Shy raven are still alive and have taken up residence in the redwood trees near our friend John's house up on Lokoya Road.  By a miracle or a shift in the wind John's house did not burn down.  He says the raven pair appear to be nesting up in a tree near his house.  This was wonderful news for me.  When he left the party last night I gave him a box of eggs and asked him to put them out for Bold and Shy.  They LOVE eggs.  The ravens here at my current house- not so much.  Strange isn't it?  The ravens of Crystal Court prefer MEAT not eggs.
They show up every morning at 9:30 to see what is in the offering for the day.  The other day I looked out to see if they were eating the chicken meat and fat I had put out and what did I see.  A crow was eating most of the food and the raven was watching!  WHAT!!! Bold and Shy would have run that crow out of town!!!!  These ravens here are very shy and reserved.  They are not honky/tonky strutting birds like Bold and Shy!  I wonder what the difference is???  When I lived on Mt. Veeder the ravens could see me sleeping in my bed.  If I did not get up in time to FEED them they would bang on the windows until I got up.  I would never expect to see this type of behavior from my shy and retiring pair where I live now.  Such a difference, it is hard to explain.  Well I love them all those saucy black birds!

Monday, December 4, 2017


I have it on good authority that Bold and Shy ravens of Mt. Veeder survived the fire that overtook the mountain in early October.  I am so happy that they must have been able to fly away from the fire fast enough to survive.  I have yet to go up to Mt. Veeder to survey the damage.  I just cannot make myself go up there to see what is left.  I am told that all that is left of our beautiful house is the chimney.  I just cannot believe it and I do not want to see it.  Lokoya Lodge which was located behind our former home was destroyed.  All the cabins burned down.  I have rented one of these cabins in previous years during the summer.  I would go up there for the day and paint and play with Bold and Shy.  They loved to play the EGG game.  I would put an egg in an unusual spot- like inside the cavity of a tree stump and they would find it. They would then pick it up and fly off with it.  What fun that was!  I feel so bad for the owners of the lodge.  It was their home and livelihood.

Everything is in great disarray right now.  PG&E is being blamed for the fires because they did not keep the trees trimmed away from the power lines.  So in response PG&E has contract crews up on Mt. Veeder cutting down trees left and right.  The biggest problem is that they are cutting down huge redwood trees that survive fires just fine and are not going to fall on the power lines. There were redwood trees on our property up there that bore burn marks from the last forest fire in the 1940s. 
They survived and continued to grow. This wanton destruction is getting people up there hopping mad.  Mt. Veeder is the most eastern stand of redwoods.  It take years to replace a giant redwood tree.

It is around 9:15 and this is the time my raven pair come to see what is on offer for breakfast at my house.  We went to a chicken dinner at the Native Sons of the Golden West the other night.  There were lots of chicken scraps left which I gathered up.  I just went outside to put the food out and my raven pair had just alighted in my neighbors deodar cedar tree.  So all is well with the ravens here.

We went to Berkeley the other week to 4th Street to visit the shops.  I came across a shop called Castles in the Air.  What a fabulous place.  They have very unusual items and hold classes on all sorts of crafts.  What did I see in the window but the most fabulous raven mask!!!  I inquired and they had a class on raven mask construction coming up.  Unfortunately it was a date that our band was performing so I could not attend- however they let me buy a mask constructed by the teacher of the class!  It is a wonderful contrivance of paper, feathers, beads and ribbons all in raven black of course.  I have it on display in my living/craft/music room for all to admire.  And so life goes, some happiness, some tragedy  and the days keep on rolling on until our end.  I read a book recently about Nepal where they lay out the dead on a mountain side so the ravens and others can eat- not a bad idea in my opinion.  I do not think I could get my body laid out on Mt. Veeder but my ashes will be stashed in a hole in the ground in Dixon.  Such a waste of potential raven food.  Ah well- the sun is shining and it is time to go get a Christmas tree and get decorating for the season.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 22, 2017


I am very sad to report that the hills and mountains on the East and West sides of the Napa Valley have been on fire for the last two weeks.  The fires are now out except for some hot spots and we are beginning to access the damage.  The Mount Veeder area where I used to live and where I meet Bold and Shy ravens was very hard hit by the fire storm. Looking at the county map of impacted areas I can see that neighbors on both sides and across the street lost their homes to fire.  The Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind across the way was destroyed.  Bold and Shy spent a good deal of their time at the camp- cawing and clacking at the blind patrons.  I am so sad.  I loved the camp and my former home.  We had put so much work and money into it to make it what it became.  I hoped that the two ladies that bought the house enjoyed it as much as we did.  It is hard to believe it has been reduced to a pile of ash.  Mt. Veeder Rd. is still closed so most people have not been able to access their properties to see the damage. If you are a grape grower you can get an agricultural pass to let you access your property.  My next door neighbor up there was able to do that.  His facility for winemaking burned but his house did not.  The fire skipped around based on the wind direction.  His two big water tanks full of water burned down- amazing.  So at least his house was spared. It appears the little cabins that we rented up there in the summer months so that I could play with Bold and Shy have also burned down.

I hope and pray that Bold and Shy were able to fly away from the fire.  We will know eventually.  We will hear their calls eventually if they are still alive.  Oh God of Earth and Sky I hope they are ok.

My lone raven here where I live now has attracted a mate.  So there are now two noisy ravens calling to me each morning for FOOD!  What I find interesting is that these ravens do not like raw chicken eggs very much.  They will take one once in awhile but usually they are left for the grey fox.  The fox visits toward twilight.  What they like is MEAT and FAT.  They really like chicken fat.  I trim it off chicken thighs and then they have a feast.  Today they got raw bacon strips since I am clearing out the refrigerator.  The fire storm started on a Sunday night about 11 PM when the wind from hell started up.  I could not sleep all night for the banging of branches against the windows and the sounds of the howling winds. The next morning the power was out/cell towers down/no house phone working.  The power was off for two days.  We took our frozen food to a friends house.  I was cat sitting for her so we got to use her phone and TV and refrigerator.  Now I am sorting out what to discard from the refrigerator and the bacon had to go even though the refrigerator remainder very cold.  So raven gets a good treat and will get some chicken fat tomorrow.  What lucky ravens they are.  I continue to get to know the local ravens  Sometimes the raven sits up in my neighbors giant deodar tree and makes racket.  I call back.  We do this for some amount of time.  We enjoy it the raven and I.  Not so much the neighbors?  They never say.

Well if this posting seems disjointed it is because I am still not ok after this fire.  Too many friends lost their homes and things will never be the same.  We went to the Reunion of the Decade of the 1960's for Napa High School yesterday.  We saw many old friends and the talk was all about the fire and who had been burned out.   It was very upsetting.  We left after lunch and took a ride up the valley to Calistoga.  It was a beautiful day, the air was clear and clean and the valley is still a lovely place.  You can see some blackened burned spots on the hillsides but other than that it looks about the same.  As soon as the rains come the grasses and wildflowers will follow and the burned areas will disappear.  The earth will repair itself, the fireweed will bloom and wine will be made and RAVENS will fly once again over the valley and in the hills.