The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mountain Bluebird

The Mountain Bluebird is a migratory bird that lives in Western North America.  It travels as far North as Alaska down to Mexico. They mainly eat insects and berries. These birds hover over the ground to catch bugs. They may forage in flocks in winter when they mainly eat grasshoppers. Mountain Bluebirds will come to a platform feeder for live meal worms, berries, or peanuts.  They are usually not disturbed by humans and can be easily banded because of this.  This picture is of a male, the females are grey with touches of blue on the end of their wings.  The bird's bright blue color is sure to brighten a bird watchers day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fastest member of the Animal Kingdom

I spotted a bird of prey on the telephone pole near my property line.  By using reference books I identified it as the Peregrine Falcon.  I'd never seen this bird before and I'd never heard of the name.

 I found some really shocking facts when I completed my research on this Falcon:

1) The Smithsonian Institue declared it the "fastest member of the Animal Kingdom".  It was clocked in NYC swooping down off building on some prey at more than 202 MPH !   The bird I just looked at out my window is the fastest?  Holy smokes.  Who would think they'd see that from their living room window?

2)  They feast almost exclusively on medium sized birds.  They grab the birds by the wings mid-air then land on the ground and rip their prey to shreds.  They will eat also an occassional insect when hungry enough. 

3)  They mate for life.  The female is 30% bigger than the male.  They live mainly in cliff edges but are increasingly found in the city making a home on tall buildings.  These birds live on the west coast from Alaska to Mexico.  In California they spend spring and summer in the Sierras and move to the desert and foothills during fall and winter. 

4) The Peregrine Falcon was an Endangered Species until 1999.  The ban of DDT in the 70's has helped them recover. Supposedly they are very popular in the sport of Falconry, particularly because of their speed.  In 2004, Professional Falconists were briefly allowed to take a limited numbers of Falcons from the wild for the first time because the population has recovered so well.

All this, just because I casually glanced outside my window. 
The next thing I knew, the bird was gone.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sara Orangetip

The Sara Orangetip butterfly is also known as the Pacific Orangetip.  It ranges along the Pacific coast of North America from Alaska to Mexico.  They are abundant up and down the West Coast, making their home in fields and deserts. They are one of the first butterflies to appear each spring and their bright colors add a touch of sparkle to their newly emerging green environment.  Butterflies are generally categorized as one of two types, patroller or percher, depending on mating strategies.  Sara Orangetip's fall in the patroller category of butterflies. Males patrol, or fly up and down a particular territory, in search of female butterflies.