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View Diary: Daily Bucket - Be a Bat Detective (61 comments)

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  •  Don't see many bats in our neighborhood (6+ / 0-)

    Don't know why.   That would be in NorCal just over the Golden Gate Bridge.

    I see a few at dusk.  But hafta look close to see any.  

    I have some kind of critter that comes out after dark.  I think most likely a racoon.   It climbs up a pine tree in the backyard, the one with the most bird feeders on it, and sits on the branch of the feeders and just craps all over the roofed hopper feeder.   Gimme a break.  It doesn't seem to be able to reach any of the food, the way I have 'em set up, so I can only conclude that the deluge (and sometimes it is, ugh) onto the feeder is just plain bratty territorial.   I put up a blinking red light that is solar powered, but it only worked for a coupla nights before the critter figured out it wasn't gonna hurt it.  I got quite the "download" the next morning.  Definitely a territorial act, you brat!

    Been lovely weather here in NorCal the past few days, since the last rain.   Not to hot, not too cool.  Cool enough at night (low 40's) to have a fire in the fireplace at night.  Nice.

    Backyard birds:   the usual (one titmouse, one pair of golden finches, 2 pairs of house finches, two pairs of woodpeckers (Nuttall's and downy, respectively), pygmy nuthatches, chickadees, and scrub jays).   A large number of sparrows.  House sparrows, some white-crowned sparrows, golden-crowned ones.   I'm feeding them from several feeders placed next to the ivy hedge on a side fence.  They seem to like hopping outta the hedge onto the feeder and then back again.  

    Other birds are visiting these feeders, too.  My remaining resident California towhee (after his/her flock was decimated by a juvie Cooper's hawk last month) has apparently recruited a new mate or just a buddy.  Now I have two of 'em again.  Sweet.  The bereaved towhee seems happier again.   Spent days calling in the hedges for his lost family.  It was heartbreaking to hear...

    I've finally become philosophical about the "Nature" occurring in my backyard with the predation of my favorite feeder birds by one or two hawk predators since the beginning of October.   I had to take a step back and not see all the birds as my "pets".   I really do care about the hawks as much as the other birds.  

    I just decided  to mediate the situation by placing the feeders close (like, right next to) dense fence foliage.   And if the predators get some (hopefully the sparrows), well, you're welcome.  ;)

    I have seen the Cooper around the neighborhood recently.   I saw it fly down from a tree top in a yard several houses away.   I also saw a northern harrier (adult male) make a dive from a neighbor's tree the other day, too.   No signs of further predation in my yard lately, but sometimes I wonder, as at times there is no avian activity at all, and is very quiet.  A sure sign, I've learned.  

    It could be that the juvie Coop doesn't want to come into my yard because I've finally been able to attract a family of (very) large crows to regularly hang out.   I did it by putting out very accessible nut and seed suet cakes for 'em.   They seem very enthused about this plan.  

    It wasn't easy to get the crows to come back into my yard, because I spent so much time last winter loudly chasing them away from my feeders.  But then I had a change of heart when I learned how intelligent they are.   Now I'm very intrigued by them and hoping to establish a relationship with 'em, as I understand they recognize individual humans.  (Yeah.  When they see me in the yard, they don't dare come around.  The spouse, no big deal.  She never chased 'em off.)

    I still have an avid interest in studying the emotions of birds and of corvids (crows and jays) in particular.   I do still intend to start a bucket series reporting on my research and personal observations.  Really.  ;)~

    One highlight I've seen in my yard lately is a pair of Townsend warblers.   What a surprise they are.   Not usually seen around here, not in a backyard this time of year.   But they are so cute, and they've decided to stay.  I first saw 'em last September when I heard a beautiful warbling song nearby.   Not like any of the birds in my yard.   Then it got closer, and closer still, and soon it was the cutest little yellow bird hopping onto a branch directly over my head, looking at me as if I were offering it food.   I said hello, it peeped and flew away.  Since then, I see the pair (the female is more plain) regularly.  Delightful.  But haven't heard 'em sing again since, alas.

    I'm going to expand my bird watching from just my backyard (so fascinating!) to all the nearby wonderful bird marshes and sanctuaries in my area.   I look forward to all the avian species I'll see out there.  Hopefully get some good photos, too.

    Still on a high over the outcome of the recent election.  Whew.  That whole election season was intense.  Sometimes the best refuge was here at Backyard Science!  

    •  What a pleasant and informative read. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duckhunter, sockpuppet, burnt out, bwren

      You really caught us up on the goings on in your yard.

      You are probably right about the raccoon. They do leave big messes. Be cautious about cleanup. Their feces can carry a potent virus harmful to you, but not them. Wear a mask. I got that advice from a Nature show a couple of weeks back on raccoons. You can watch it online.

      It does get deathly quiet near the feeders in the presence of hawks. We've seen that. Little birds will 'freeze' until it is safe.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Big Bird Won! Brought to you by the letter 'O'.

      by jim in IA on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 03:29:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ewwwww...racoon "clean up" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burnt out, bwren, jim in IA

        Thanks for the heads up about how potentially harmful their effluvia can be.   Dang.   Good thing I used a power washer to clean up the mess.  It was everywhere.  All over the feeder roof, on the ground, on nearby plants, in the garden path.  Ugh.  Maybe I should put out some Kaopectate for the critter.  Ugh.

        I've noticed that since the predator predations this Fall, the birds that frequent our feeders are much more furtive and cautious in their movements.   Just to test this, I put out a feeder with delectables on it, but hung out in the open where it would make an easy target.   Very few birds took me up on the offer.   Moved the feeder to good cover area and they flocked it.  

        I also notice that most of the flocks, regardless of species (except for the hummingbirds, who seem to be exempt from hawk predation), now have "spotter" watch-birds who take up positions to ensure the safety of the feeding area.    Even the crows are doing this.  Haven't seen this behavior in my yard before.   The spotters just watch attentively and warily, while other birds feast.   Then another bird takes their places so they can eat.   Interesting to watch.

        I also have a little seemingly injured pine siskin in the yard.  He/she doesn't seem to have a flock.  She just sits in various places and seems to shiver, and looks puffed up.   She lets me get very close to her, so I've looked at her eyes to see if she's going blind from avian conjunctivitis.   She seems to be able to see fairly well.  She can fly moderately, at least from feeder to feeder and to the water fountain.

        So she seems to be able to take care of herself, so I'm not gonna try to catch her to take her to WildCare here in Marin.   Hopefully she'll get better on her own.   Poor lil' thing.  She huddles inside the hopper feeder with the roof on it.   The sides are open, so it can't be much shelter from cool breezes or cold nights.  

        I think she might've been traumatized by a predator.  But I can't see any obvious injuries.   Just very swollen or feathers puffed up.   Today there was a little flock of siskins at the feeder (with gold finches flocking with 'em).  So I hope she was able to join up with 'em.  But I don't think she can fly as vigorously as they do.  Poor baby.

        Yeah, thanks for the good advice about the racoon clean up.   I did jump back when I got a spray drop or two on me when I was power washing the mess.  eek.

    •  Thumbs up for this! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jim in IA
      I've finally become philosophical about the "Nature" occurring in my backyard with the predation of my favorite feeder birds by one or two hawk predators since the beginning of October.
      Your diploma will be sent out shortly!

      Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

      by burnt out on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 05:11:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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