Saturday, June 18, 2005
Hide and Seek Birdies
Like sparrows and starlings, the nonnative Hungarian or gray partridge is now a common species in North America. During the winter, they often feed on bird seed which smaller birds drop on the ground from our bird feeder. We also throw wheat down for them.
Ebbey really gets excited when they visit. She sometimes makes convincing displays to go outside, but her real aim is to chase partridge. She regularly searches for these ground birds on walks, hoping to catch one as they take off in flight. Except for this one day. Three birds took off, but one bird remained on the ground and just stood there. Living in a garbage dump, Ebbey has learned not to judge by size. (Except for mice. All mice are up for grabs.) Garbage dump cats are extremely fierce and Ebbey will not chase a cat that stands it's ground. Seeing this small gray partridge standing it's ground, Ebbey thought twice. By then I had her collar and the bird scrambled away. I suspect it was a young bird who had just used up one of it's lives.
This one night we saw a partridge scalp itself on a powerline. Feathers flew as the bird skinned it's head and back. Not a good mistake during the cold of winter.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Love the Bunny
Urban snowshoe hare populations have increased lately in the west, and they seem to be everywhere. Luck has been with me as Ebbey has never had the opportunity to chase one. She can encounter one or two on leash, but after the third or fourth her enthusiasm turns into screams of anticipation. I chant that she must Love the Bunny...and sometimes this reduces the screams. When walking with the J (a large rescued rottweiler cross), the two dogs have dragged me through a number of different terrain while chasing the bunny. This includes mud, snow and even steamy abandoned dog poop on one occasion.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Ebbey’s New Window Look Out
Moving most of my stuff out of storage, I’ve filled an entire room where I am currently staying. It took a day to reorganize the boxes, and now Ebbey has a nice corner window bed to look outside. Granted, there is only a two foot wide path through the room of boxes, but the ongoing rain has provided a jungle of green foliage for the former starving stray to survey.
One bird feeder hangs near one corner window, with a trough feeder on the other side. Larger birds like crows, magpies and even the odd raven frequent the trough. Though resentful that chicken liver is being fed to such creatures, Ebbey has now resigned herself to this fact. Even smaller birds like chickadees and robins seem to like the beef fat. Purchased at an incredible savings, I soon discovered Ebbey is allergic to chicken and any part thereof including their liver.
We also have quite a community of mice and voles, surviving on the bird left overs that fall to the ground. This is particularly entertaining for Ebbey as she has been known to consume such critters. This is likely how she survived during her abandoned days, though she is allergic to mice as well. Anytime she holds one in her mouth, and the frightened creature does what a frightened creature does when held in the jaws of death, Ebbey soon starts scratching and rubbing.
Some of the mice are barely the size of a penny, and seem to have about as much sense. A certain percentage of these runty rodents are predated by the crows and magpies. I’ve also witnessed a falcon kill a sparrow feeding at the bird feeder. So Ebbey actively monitors the ongoing back yard dramas.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Coyotes ARE Evil!
Ebbey, J (a large rescued rottweiler cross), Bu (Ebbey’s large 14 year old geriatric friend) and I were out for a walk. It was dark and no one else was around. Bu has her moments of vigor, but generally drags along behind. As we passed a green area, a silhouetted coyote was standing under a street light. Ebbey wasn’t quite sure what kind of dog this was and reluctantly continued to walk. Within seconds, she broke into her viscous bark coyote screaming mode as the coyote and a second one crossed the street behind us. Keeping all three dogs in close proximity, I tried to usher the scream barking and circling ridgeback down the hill. Ebbey’s screaming suddenly became more violent as the coyotes crossed back and began following. They seemed attracted to her distress and were moving in for an opportunity to poach Bu. Despite my cussing, Ebbey’s scream barking and the J’s aggressive circles the coyotes kept coming towards us. Finally a few cars turned off the freeway and they took off. I like coyotes, but am annoyed that some urban dwellers have become so aggressive. Not many country coyotes would be this bold.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Whenever there's a break, I try to sort through usable shots I’ve archived. And whenever you film animals, for a feature film and a potential television spin off, you take a lot of footage.
Ebbey often hangs around when I’m editing. She’s captivated by the wolves, the raven, other dogs and even some of the cast she worked with. However, when it comes to watching herself on screen, she just can’t wrap her canine mind around the concept. Or maybe she’s like some other actors who just can’t stand watching themselves on film.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Pheasant in the City
It isn’t often you see a big colorful male pheasant in an urban park.