Wild Thing

Animal Ethics

It makes me want to go out and slaughter a gopher Look at all the animals you can kill, butcher, cook, and eat in one city.

Patch: An Urban Red-tailed Hawk (3 of 4)

10,000 Birds

I’ve seen young Red-tailed Hawk s who just don’t have the hang of it, counting on luck of good fortune to present them with a careless gopher or a rare easy meal. She ate everything from Rock Pigeons to caterpillars, earthworms to Brewer’s Blackbirds, but her staple diet consisted of plump, toothy, charismatic, and abundant Pocket Gophers. On this occasion Patch had secured a gopher and was dining on a streetlight.

Patch: An Urban Red-tailed Hawk (2 of 4)

10,000 Birds

Here Patch sits on a bench watching a pocket gopher tidy up the front of its burrow. Here she is carrying a squirming gopher over the heads of park-goers who actually notice the spectacle. On this occasion, she successfully snatched up a gopher too close to the blackbird nesting colony and got escorted away with the prey still firmly in her grasp.

Everyday Sunshine: Get Close

10,000 Birds

An intimate moment at dusk between a Red-tailed Hawk and an expired gopher. One of these sentiments is a lie. Birds are beautiful. Birds are fascinating. Birds are always too close, prancing around resplendent in their finery and vexing the close-focus on your suddenly useless binoculars. perhaps if you turned them around?) Well, go ahead and brush those goldfinches off your laptop and enjoy a closer look some other feathered friends.

Leaping Foxes

10,000 Birds

No “gophers” etc. I can’t think of many sights more entertaining than a red fox scouting a meadow in search of mice – or gophers, voles, gerbils – well, mice in a German sense. Germany is currently experiencing something for which the English have no nice expression.

Fox 58

Everyday Sunshine: Great Blue Herons

10,000 Birds

They know the rhythms of gophers. Continuing the celebration of commonplace birds we now hail the ubiquitous Great Blue Heron. There are too many images to share so I’ll keep the captions brief and let the pictures do the squawking, er, I mean talking. Their beautiful blue-gray can really pop in the right light. They share our world without too much complaint, adapting to our cities and towns when they can. They mimic our styles of dress and mock us through forced perspective.

Staying Out Late

10,000 Birds

Gophers that live near streetlights beware. Next time you find the light fading and resign yourself to a night sky filled with owls and bats, remember that some diurnal denizens like to stay out late too. Red-tailed Hawks have a habit of hunting well into the night if there is any available light and the getting is good. I suppose their light gathering abilities work well enough in dim conditions to create some overlap with the nightly arrival of their nocturnal relatives.

Patch: An Urban Red-tailed Hawk (1 of 4)

10,000 Birds

The hawk was intent on finding gophers and I used its focus to my advantage and closed the distance gradually. I was pretty new to watching birds and photography when I first met this Red-tailed Hawk. While keeping track of some hummingbirds in Alta Plaza Park in San Francisco, I noticed a shadow slipping over the terraced hillside. When I looked up the hawk was five feet above my head and powering towards a perch high in the trees.

2011 81

Swainson’s Hawk Splendor

10,000 Birds

I imagine this is the last thing many gophers in Klamath see. Swainson’s Hawks are special. As special as any bird that is abundant… just not abundant in your neck of the woods. OK sure, it is only an hour drive before I reach Swainson’s paradise in the Central Valley of California… but where I live, any large brown Buteo has a higher probability of Red-tailed Hawkishness.

2012 66

California Quail, The California State Bird: Now Forming Coveys

10,000 Birds

In addition to these aerial predators, their eggs and young are often taken by squirrels, gray foxes, house cats, coyotes, gopher snakes, rattlesnakes, raccoons, American Crows and Western Scrub-Jays. The California Quail ( Callipepla californica ) is the California state bird, inhabiting scrub, broken chaparral and woodland edges primarily in California, Oregon, Washington and Baja California.