Dear Barbara and Nature Jubilatiors,
It’s that time of year when the bird parents are getting sick and tired of their food begging offspring. The bird teenagers can’t believe that their feathered parents are heartlessly ignoring their incessant, high screech calls for food supply. It must be a rude awaking for the juvenile birds to face this transition from being pampered to the ‘Get a hold of yourself and grow up!’ message. Gull youngsters are really successful in driving their parents out of their minds with their begging pursuit. Their piercing cries and crowding in on the parent, force the crazed progenitor to distant themselves by walking away from that annoying behavior. Of course the ‘kid’ throws all restraints to the wind, lowers its body, extends its neck and races after the escaping parent with high frequency, fast succession screams. The hoped for result disappears into the air: the parent flies off, leaving a silent, stunned feathered minor grounded, having to face bird reality…
A few weeks ago this odd gull episode happened by the Riverside Ave. bridge: a group of adult WESTERN gulls let the world know that their lives were in disarray. These calls get activated when a Hawk is circling too close to a gull nest, which was not the case since they were crowded on a sandbank. The reason they were beside themselves was the presence of a juvenile HEERMANN’S gull, who was trying to figure out how to calm the outraged WESTERN group. It tried to slither away, which resulted in the adults converging on the youngster, so it stopped and lowered submissively its head. This greatly satisfied the grown-ups, shut them up and they walked away. Feeling safe, the adolescent stepped into the water. That clearly was the wrong move: the supposedly mature gulls gathering around the flustered HEERMANN’S gull and exploded into an other racket. The young gull carefully kept inching away to a safe distance, where it was ignored and able to forage.
The migratory birds haven’t yet arrived in full force at the river. Each season birders are scanning the sky, waters and land to see what species are coming back when, because that is how we keep track of the bird population. BTW: Randy Wardle’s monthly list is a wonderful resource for which bird species you can expect in our area. Birders have noticed the decline of numbers and species over the years as reported in the latest study, revealing the loss of over 3 billion birds since 1970 in Northern America. The good news is that we can personally invite them into our bird friendly gardens and lend our voices for their legal protection. My own suggestion: plant succulents sparsely, because I have observed that they have no blossoms, seeds, fruit nor shelter for birds.
I heard the call, but I couldn’t remember right away the owner’s name. Then the call owner smoothly glided in: the OSPREY, who produces diverse, exotic sounds that tend to throw me. The glorious bird didn’t land in the Trestle trees but continued out to the ocean. A little later I met up with my river compadre and he told me that he just had seen the female OSPREY in the Trestle trees and an other one was circling high above. Clearly raptors mating choices are in full swing! It’s so wonderful to have these compadres connections, because we each add a detail to fill out a fuller river wildlife picture.
The BLACK-Crowned NIGHT-HERON is down here on its yearly visit during the upstream Flood Control work. I was so happy to read your positive experience with everything and everybody. You certainly did amazing work for the improvement and awareness of the Flood Control protocol!! From what you describe, it sounds like the procedure is following the Streambed Alteration Agreement revisions of the Calif. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife that were initiated by the Sierra Club. So all these efforts will have a beneficial outcome for our river critters: HALLELUJAH!! from jane