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.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Black Phoebe's Nest

They moved in on the bracket holding the DirecTV dish. 
We had to move the nest.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Phainopeplas in the hood

Last week I noticed a new bird.  I ID'd him as a Phainopeplas - aka the "silky flycatcher".  He was parked in a pine tree and watched me by tilting his head like a parrot.  Occassionally I'd see him swoop out to catch a bug and then return to his perch in the tree.  A day or two later I noticed a female was with him.  The female is grey with the same red eyes. 

This is what I found when I read up on them.  They are from the Baja peninsula where they have an early spring breeding then they fly to a more mild climate (like Gavilan Hills for instance) for a second breeding season.  They stay for about a month.  Two weeks is spent by the couple keeping the eggs in their nest warm (yes, I spotted their nest at the top of the pine tree) and the next 19 days are spent raising the young.  Then they eventually migrate back to the Baja peninsula. 

They mainly eat bugs and berries but unlike other birds, they have a second stomach that digests the "shell" of the berries, while the inside of the berry goes to the first stomach.  Also, while this bird is known for being kind of quiet, it can imitate some other bird calls including the red-tail hawk's call. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm out for a walk on a paved neighborhood road.  Several hundred feet ahead of me, something is in the street.   It looks to be fresh cut lumber on the road.  As I continue walking towards it, the lumber moves and I realize its some kind of four legged animal.  The animal turns and faces me.  The animal is tawny in color.  What animal is four legged and tawny colorer?  A mountain lion?  A bobcat?  The animal begins to run towards me, I turn and run like I'm going to be eaten alive.  I few seconds later I turn to see if the animal is still chasing me.... it is.  Fortunately, I spot a van approaching the animal from behind.  As the van reaches the animal I'm now able to accurately measure the size of the animal against a familiar sized thing - the van.  I realize the animal hardly reaches halfway up the tire and rim.  What I thought might have been a mountain lion was actually a tan colored Pomerainian dog.  What a fool! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Northern Mockingbird

Ever heard the song of the mockingbird? I have a one word description: T-A-L-E-N-T!  They mimic other birds' songs and each version is repeated three times.  They often sing at night too.  Mockingbirds have territories of 1 - 2 acres per couple.  They sing to defend a breeding/feeding territory against other birds, cats, and snakes.  From head to tail they are 11" and feed on insects, lizards, small snakes, and fruit & berries.  They also come to feeders.   This bird is found in all states of the continential US except Oregon and Washington.  I love hearing their's a wonderful lullaby I listen to on summer nights when sleeping with the windows open.

Monday, June 4, 2012