Category Archives: Critters

Baby Terrordactyls

They’re here!

Mama Finch was fidgeting like crazy yesterday.

She kept digging down in the nest – something was up.

A mother’s work is never done.

Still plenty of time and energy to give me the stink eye!

Today Mama was gone most of the day, but a couple of little grey heads attached to HUGE yellow (open) beaks kept popping up.

The one in the middle was the most visible, but their sibling over on the right was also waiting more or less patiently.

MOM! Where’s lunch? And second lunch? And early dinner?

And dessert? And after dinner snack? And bedtime snack? And midnight snack?

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At Least Two New Finches

Mama Finch was fussing with the nest contents again today. (I can’t see in unless I get real close and get a chair or step stool, and that’s probably a good way to lose an eye these days!) I finally saw at least two heads popping up a couple of times.

Aside from the whole “Awwwww, baby birdies!!!!” reaction they truly are some butt-ugly, scrawny, grey, half naked little dinosaur descendants. Just sayin’.

We’ll see if they’re starting to do all of that annoying peeping and begging for food 24/7 tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get some pictures.

Maybe I’ll lose an eye.

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Mama Finch Getting Fidgety

Something might be happening in the finches’ nest – instead of simply sitting there all day, wishing she had Netflix, today Mama Finch was fidgeting and fussing with the eggs underneath her.

Maybe tomorrow is Birdy Birthin’ Day?!


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And Now A Word From The Amphibians

We have a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects, not to mention all of the flowers. Tonight I believe a member of the amphibian class has joined the menagerie. (I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for any invertebrates or fish to show up, but hey, it’s 2020! Don’t count out anything.)

We hear peepers down the hill by the baseball fields, where there’s a flood control channel that’s got a couple of acres of wild wetlands where the channel dumps out of the hills by Castle Peak and forms Bell Creek, which meets up with a couple other creeks a mile or so away to become the Los Angeles River. On a hot summer night you can hear them, almost like being back home in Vermont.

But we’re up at the top of the hill and it’s a lot dryer. However, tonight there’s definitely one out on the back porch, somewhere over under the telescope and a set of shelves there. He’s loud enough so that I can hear him from two rooms away, even with noise-cancelling headphones on and playing music.

If I remember correctly (and I’m sure someone will correct me if I don’t) the noise level means it’s a “he” and he’s on the prowl for some hot amphibian lovin’.

Good luck, little frog dude. (I think you’re going to need it.)

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Mama Finch On Duty

Unless we open the back door or otherwise disturb her, here she sits for hours and hours on end.

Do birds get bored?

She can see me at the kitchen sink, so within seconds of being there I get that stink eye stare.

She’ll shift around a bit, but there’s not a lot of room.

As it gets warmer in the afternoon (this was about 13:30) she’ll rise up a bit and spread her wings a bit.

When it really gets warm (it got up to 84°F today) she raises way up and has her mouth open, presumably for cooling for both her and for the eggs underneath her.

When it cools off and starts to get dark, she settles down again and gives me the, “Really, dude? You’ve been taking pictures all freakin’ day! Give it a rest!!” look.

Looking forward to seeing the family in a few days.

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The Finches Have Been Busy Again

Maybe it’s the SoCal weather, maybe they’re just randy little flying fuzzballs, but Mama Finch is back on the nest.

Back in February and March we had four pairs in four different nests under the eaves of our back porch. I’m not sure all four ended up with families, but at least two of them did.

They all sort of went about their way in late April and early May. They were all still flying about, noisy, doing bird things, but I never saw them up by the nests.

Until about two weeks ago, when it was just like February all over. Just two of the four nests seem to be occupied this time, but Daddy Finch is out there perching on the fridge and the BBQ and the porch chairs and making quite the ruckus while Mama Finch can be seen all day long sitting in the nest.

I had suspicions.

Today when I went out into the back yard to take out the trash, Mama Finch took off as she is wont to do. I figured that I had a few seconds to take a quick peek before she came back and tried to poke my eyes out.

The hummingbirds next door only had two eggs. The finches have been BUSY, if you know what I mean!

The incubation period for finches is 13-14 days, and we’ve seen Mama on guard for at least five or six days, so I give it another week. Stand by, news developments to follow.

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We Need That Tree To Be Tall

Following my post of a picture of our cedar trees yesterday, long time reader and commenter and author and generally wonderful human being Jemima Pett commented:

“Now if you just trim the top off flat… there.. it’ll do for the Close Encounters models of the meeting place!”

This is correct and true, and also assumes 100% correctly that I would love to be the guy going to meet the little grey/green dudes with those big black eyes and their very own starship. (Why does my autocorrect still think that “starship” is not a word in my dictionary? Has it not been paying attention lo these many years??!!)

However, no matter how factually accurate Jemima’s comment is, there are two major factors preventing such actions in the real world.

  1. Our landlord – we don’t own the house and are renting after going through ***HELL*** two years ago when we sold our house.
  2. The finches use those trees to announce their presence with authority.

This one was in his full blown, bright red chest feathers, “Look at me! I’M VIRILE!!” mode.

It was about sunset – that helps the hues a bit but they really are getting that bright and that loud. It’s quite marvelous.

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Hummer Neighbor

We have four finch nests out on the back porch, although we haven’t seen them in the nests for a couple of weeks. I suspect the next generation of finches is out looking for their own nesting sites already. We saw all of the mating activity, we heard the tiny peepers, now all is quiet…

The other thing I did last week was re-fill the hummingbird feeders. We’ve always had the hummingbirds around, it was time to again make life a little easier for them.

See the two feeders hanging there? We immediately started seeing the hummingbirds feeding there. Then I started seeing them sitting on those vines, even when they weren’t feeding.

That was new. They kept coming back to a spot on the vines right between the feeders. Then I noticed they were carrying things.

Sure enough, there it is. A teeny tiny thing, a hundredth the size of the finch nests.

And where the finch nests are sticks and twigs, the hummingbird nest is made of fluff and soft stuff. Maybe some of that spare hair from a month ago.

The mama hummingbird flys off whenever anyone is anywhere near the patio, including any of us even being in the kitchen or dining room. We’re leaving them alone, but today I was curious…

Thank god for thin cell phones with good cameras, there’s no way to get a big camera into that spot! But yes, there are two very small eggs in there!


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There he goes!! Wait for the “push ups” at the end!

Standard issue fence lizard. Now that it’s getting warm we’re seeing a dozen or so of them around the yard. By late summer it will be many dozens, depending on the attrition rate as the crows and hawks and other birds prove to be quicker than they are.


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Erratum – They’re Not Wrens

Remember the birds from the back yard? I called them “house wrens.” They’re not.

They’re “house finches.

(The Cornell Lab Merlin App)

I don’t share this with you simply because I know that some of you, out of an overabundance of politeness no doubt, have been biting your tongues for days, knowing that they were finches and not wrens but not wanting to rain on my parade. (I know no such thing.) No, I share this because I found this really cool free app!

I don’t know about Android phones, but if you’re on an Apple iOS device, look for the “Merlin bird ID” app. It’s from Cornell Lab at Cornell University and it will ID birds with a picture, by answering five questions, and possibly (I just got it this afternoon, so maybe?) with a live photo as you’re watching the bird? It doesn’t appear to be able to ID birdsong, but if you ID your bird from a picture you can hear a sample of the birdsong for that species and confirm the ID that you just completed.

Check it out, it’s cool!!


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