Your photo and story, Jane, on Captain Coot, proudly sweeping by the astonished Mallards while sailing his cardboad ship down the river, was one of your funniest of the year!
A slight glitch in my posting this week. I posted this piece to my education site by mistake. When I tried to move it back to this San Lorenzo River Mysteries Site, I lost photo captions and some links. If you would like to see the original post, you can click here and go to my other, now mostly moribund, education site. That way you can also take a peek at my former life!
I’ve been busy working on the Yes on M campaign (rent control), specializing, it seems, in trying to save the homes of human as well as avian creatures. I am perhaps unreasonably partial to the idea of a world where every sentient being has secure housing! Anyway, for this reason, as well as having a cold, I haven’t been out on the River this week . Fortunately the river has come to me in the form of many new riparian dwellers visiting my overgrown native garden, separated from the river by a single fence. My sunflower seed feeder is a major attraction, as well as a rotting log I introduce a while back. I hope the native plants factor in the equation somewhere. I really don’t have the vaguest understanding of the ecology that I am blindly trying to create. But I think it is working.
I have not been lucky enough in the past to catch many glimpses of our colorful
summer visitor, the BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, so you can imagine how happy I’ve been to have one of these showy creatures appear as a regular visitor in my backyard for the last two weeks. She (or he?) seems to love my sunflower seeds. Weirdly, it is impossible to know if my backyard Grosbeak is a first year male or a female, since in their first year the two are indistinguishable. All I know is that it was not a second year male whose solidly black head and deep orange breast clearly identify it as a breeding male. Unfortunately, one of those hasn’t visited yet.
I also read that this species loves to feast on Monarch butterflies, one of the few bird species that can successfully process the toxins in Monarchs that would kill or sicken another bird. Both Monarchs and Black-headed Grosbeaks return to the mountains of central Mexico in the winter – unfortunately for the Monarchs.
But I forgive the Grosbeaks since they are one of those lovable birds that share the duties of incubating and feeding their young. Here is a good website connected with Cornell University that I use to collect some of these interesting tidbits of information – All About Birds.
I’ve heard that HOUSE FINCHES tend to be late breeders and the recent mobbing of my tube feeder by all kinds of fluffy and scruffy young finches seems to prove the truth of this.
The tube is absolutely cleaned out by evening each day. I also wonder if some of them might be molting adults. I wonder where they nest.
Here is a video of house finches feeding their young – slightly overproduced for my taste, but a nice intro to my sightings of them after they are out of the nest.
Parent finches regurgitate food for the young, making it possible as we see in the film to feed many for quite a while. Click here.
I saw a juvenile COWBIRD perched near my house for the first time that I remember. A parasitic brooder, often leaving an egg in the nests of House Finches, I wonder if this juvenile was inadvertently raised as a sibling of one of my finches above.. He looks a bit bewildered and stranded, don’t you think?
Passing the 80 milestone has kept me from getting down to the estuary end of the river very much – so I much appreciate first hand news and photos of the breaching. What did you think of the Sentinel coverage of this phenomena? It cleared up some questions that I have had. For readers who didn’t see the article, click here for the link.
I don’t think I have mentioned my concern about the dirt road that the City built along the east side of the river bank on the riverine reach (Water to Highway 1) while they were doing their flood control work a month ago.
Here is a photo of the road as well as a close-up that shows how close the road comes to the river. I am worried that rangers and police will begin patrolling the area in their trucks, creating a disturbance to the wildlife and setting a bad precedent for the future in terms of how close humans should get to the river. I know that there are some commercial and recreational developers that would just love to create more paths right next to the river. I would love to walk there myself, – but I don’t think it bodes well for habitat protection. I am likely to hear and see more if I am not disturbing what I want to hear and see.
Have you seen this mighty sprinkling can heaving its way down the Riverwalk?
I talked to the driver and he told me that it brings water to thirsty native plants that are newly planted and need a little extra support. If we ever get the river levee re-planted with natives, and they get established, maybe this will become the dinosaur that it resembles. But I definitely appreciate the restoration work that seems to have taken off on the levee and Riverwalk.
Here is the bonus photo for the day, a mysterious insect that graced my garden for a moment. I would love to begin to learn the names of these visitors.
Quote of the Day
No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in manufactories is called rubbish or waste. Everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons.
May we all learn to respect the right of all living creatures to a secured place to live.