Jeffrey Shooting Star

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I have so many “favorite” spring wildflowers, one of which is the Jeffery shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi). This member of the primrose family has reflexed petals. Shooting stars do not have nectar. Instead bees vibrate their thoracic muscles while clinging … Continue reading

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Black-crowned Night Herons

Black-crowned Night Herons

Black-crowned Night Herons

These black-crowned night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) were photographed along Hat Creek below the first hydro plant. I recently learned that black-crowned night heron chicks leave the nest when they are a month old, but do not learn to fly until six weeks of age. Between leaving the nest and flight, these young birds walk around on the ground. Sounds like a vulnerable time in their lives.

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Western Buttercup

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Several buttercup species are found in Northeastern California. Many of these species are difficult to identify. The western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis),  a native, perennial found in Western Canada and Western United States, has distinguishing characteristics that aid in identification. Growing … Continue reading

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Surprise Tenant 5

And the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) whose nest was used by the Canada geese (Branta canadensis)?? They reclaimed their nest (see Surprise Tenant 2) and are now redecorating the nursery. With luck, I will also be able to follow another generation of osprey on the ponderosa pine snag near Crystal Lake (Shasta County CA).

Bringing Twig to Nest

Bringing Twig to Nest

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Surprise Tenant 4

Three Surviving Chicks

Three Surviving Chicks

. . . I immediately walked to the Crystal Lake shore (Shasta County CA) closest to the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nest. There swam a pair of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) and three goslings about the same age as the dead gosling (see Surprise Tenant 3) found under the osprey nest. I watch Crystal Lake closely for waterfowl and their young. These are the first goslings are on the water this year – and very near the osprey nest. I assume these are the osprey nest pair and their three surviving chicks – a mostly happy ending to the story. If I am wrong, I do not want to know.

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Surprise Tenant 3

The next time I was able to return to the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nest that had been taken over by a pair of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) the nest was empty (see Surprise Tenant 2). Had the geese been evicted and the eggs or goslings destroyed by the osprey, or had the family survived?

I began to examine the ground under the nest looking for egg remains or other evidence of why the nest was empty. All I could find was one dead gosling. The young bird was very fresh and appeared to have only recently died.

Dead Gosling

Dead Gosling

Since this did not look to be a newly hatched chick, my assumption is that the goslings remained in the nest for a couple days before taking a plunge to the ground at the urging of their parents. That was a long fall!! Enough of the egg sac remains, enabling young goslings to not eat for the first two days of life, although they are capable of pecking for food, walking and swimming almost immediately after birth. What happened to the parents and other goslings, if there were any. So. . . . .

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Surprise Tenant 2

Osprey Harassing Canada Geese

Osprey Harassing Canada Geese

In an earlier post (Surprise Tenant 03-27-15) I noted that a pair of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) co-opted an osprey nest high in a ponderosa pine snag before the osprey returned for the season. I wondered what would happen when the osprey came back to claim their nest. The story is now complete. About a week ago I observed the nest for over three hours. Two geese were in the nest and two osprey watched “their” breeding site from a nearby tree. Periodically (about once every 30 to 45 minutes) the osprey would swoop in over the nest. What a cacophony with the osprey and geese both screeching and making distress calls. After watching for a while I decided that the osprey were not interested in attacking (or perhaps they did so before, without success) the geese, instead the osprey appeared to be harassing the geese. The osprey seem to want their nest back, but are not able or willing to actually evict the geese. More tomorrow. . .

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