Archive | November 2013

Fight & Flight: Red Tailed Hawks~

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The Holler Red Tails are being besieged by the Ravens. As soon as they take flight they are surrounded by flocks of harassing ravens. (Please click photos to enlarge).

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They are usually outnumbered at least twenty to one, and you can see the missing flight feathers from their aerial battles. The raven population seems bloated and out of control. I’ve seen this so many places where I travel.

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They fight continuously. The hawks hold their own for the most part, despite the disparity in numbers. I wonder how they get time to hunt though, since so much of their time is spent fending off attacks from the ravens.

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The ravens are relentless.

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Here is an actual attack shot into the sun so it’s not a good photo, but you can see the hawk reeling from the raven’s slam and you can see the raven screaming!

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The hawks strategy seems to be to fly extremely high and out-altitude the ravens. The one below is climbing. Occasionally at altitude they dive-bomb back on to an unsuspecting raven. Revenge must be sweet for the hawks.

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This one is starting the descent to attack. When they actually start to dive, they tuck their wings and dive-bomb at up to 135mph! Thrilling sight!

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Rarely they fly away as you see this one doing.

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Often other Red Tails enter the fray to come to a beleagured hawks assistance.

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Most hawks carry signs of their battles.

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I am, of course, on the hawks side, since the ravens are cowardly bullies, using numbers to overwhelm and harass, but there is nothing I can do, except watch these aerial battles in total fascination.

Speaking of hawks, remember my recent post about invasive windmill farms? My husband sent me this article about the effects of massive windmill farms. Check it out and see what you think. Raptors need our protection too!

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/22/wind-energy-company-pleads-guilty-eagle-deaths/

Cheers to you from out beleagured Holler Hawks!

“The Eternal Seductiveness of Life….”

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The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life. ~Jean Giraudoux

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The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.  ~Matsuo Basho

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A profusion of pink roses bending ragged in the rain speaks to me of all gentleness and its enduring. ~William Carlos Williams

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If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom? ~ Kahlil Gibran

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Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman

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Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity. ~John Ruskin

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I hope some day to meet God, because I want to thank Him for the flowers. ~Robert Brault

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Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul. ~The Koran

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. ~ Oscar Wilde

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Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms.  ~Ikkyu Sojun

Cheers to you and may you always hold a flower in your heart!

Anza Avian Refuge!

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Two very friendly baby Great Green Macaws. They love to hop on your shoulder and play with your hair. (Please click to enlarge!)

Anza Exotic Birds/Avian Rescue is a bird and animal rescue facility in Anza California. It is owned by Kathleen Willhelm.

Anza, Kathleen, and her bird and animal inhabitants, are all quite fascinating.

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Scarlet Macaw. (Please remember to enlarge for optimal viewing!)

Lets’s start with Kathleen. She was a stock broker working on the 80th floor in Manhattan, who decided after 9/11, and the death of friends and co-workers, that stock brokering was no longer for her, and that she was wasting her life. So she pulled up stakes, purchased a 26 acre ranch in Anza California, and started her exotic bird and animal rescue.

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Blue Macaw.

She has over 1000 birds.

Many are handicapped, missing feet, parts of their beak, or are blind. Others were relinquished by owners who decided they couldn’t manage their bird. Quite a few of the parrot species survived owners who predeceased them, since parrots have long life spans. Some were scheduled for euthansia. Kathleen is breeding several species of endangered birds.

Many of her birds talk fluently. Most are immensely gregarious, and prone to hop on you when you least expect it, for a friendly visit!

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The rare and highly endangered Golden Conure, AKA Queen of Bavaria. I was enchanted by these birds.

I have been to many bird breeders, stores, refuges, etc., over the years, but I have never seen a collection of such happy, healthy, contented birds. Kathleen is not interested in adopting out her birds unless she screens you and makes sure you are worthy of her birds.

Good for her!

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She guarantees that her birds don’t bite and they don’t. This is a no-brainer, because her birds are content.

She hooks new birds up with companion mentor birds. Birds with special needs are not adopted out, but accommodated. She has a team of dedicated volunteers who work in her facility,  and she runs an oncology rehab program, that hooks up elderly Anza cancer patients with rehab birds, who cheer the patients up.

I don’t know about you, but I would chuck being a stock broker in a heartbeat to do what Kathleen does. She rocks!

Check out more of her happy birds.

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Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

In my next post I will introduce you to some of the other animals Kathleen has acquired as her rescue reputation has spread.  She has a whole menagerie of happy, well cared for animals, including abandoned doggies, Patagonian Guinea Pigs, Pot Bellied Pigs, two skunks, one named Flower……you get the idea.

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This is a baby Sun Conure and a bird I am considering adopting, but not until February of 2014.

Kathleen selected a most interesting area to open her refuge.  Anza is a semi-desert community in an isolated part of California in the San Jacinto mountains, right above the descent down the mountains, into the Mojave Desert. It is located about an hour and a half east of The Holler. “It is estimated that the Cahuilla aboriginal tribes inhabited the area now known as Anza more than 2000 years ago” and first encountered white invaders in 1774.  It is a community of around 4,000 people according to the 2010 census.

Here’s what Wiki says about Anza, “Due to its history and relative isolation for hundreds of years, Anza is dissimilar to many areas in California settled during the same period. The cultural identity of many long-time Anzans exhibits the marked influence of Cahuillan aboriginal culture on the White population, expressed in terms of art and folklore.”

Anza is a wonderful place with interesting residents, like Kathleen.

Oh, and Red Skeleton lived here, in his ranch on Burnt Valley Road.

Reference source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anza,_California

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This is  a Derbyian Parrot, a bird Kathleen recommends for me, as they love to travel!

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Moluccan Cockatoo.

For more info on Kathleen and her awesome animal operation check out:

https://www.facebook.com/AnzaAvianRefuge

Cheers to you from wonderful Anza, and the cutest baby pot-bellied pigs you will ever have the opportunity to play with!

The Secret of Hummingbird Attraction Revealed!

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Okay, I’ll fess up!
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It’s not the nectar.
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Here’s all you have to do.
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Just whistle Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.”
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Okay……. you should do it in tune. They’ll skid to a stop in mid-air.

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They are mesmerized by “Viva la Vida!”
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They will stop what they are doing, and watch, and listen!

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It is best if you can sound just like this:

If you do, they will be stunned into flightless stupor. They will sit politely. They will not try to kill each other, and they will watch you, like this:
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It’s unheard of for them to sit politely and share a branch. What can I say? They love Coldplay?
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Or is it David Garret?
Of course, it could also be that my whistling is so out of tune and discordant, it renders them dumbstruck and flightless.
Whatever. I suggest you try it. Just whistle Vida while you work and see what flies over!
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Cheers to you from my marvelous, musically-inclined, little hummers!

Invasion of the Robotic Wind Thieves!

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Hide under your bed!
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They’re coming!

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They’ve invaded the desert,

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and there are thousands of them.

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They have endless supplies of energy,

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and multiple means of transport.
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They even have Boxsters!

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Oh humanity, how will it end?

PS- If I were you,

I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

Plants of The Mojave II: The Anneberg Gardens~

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There are reflecting ponds everywhere.

Sunnylands, the former Annenberg estate in Palm Springs California, is now open for public tours. The 200 acre desert estate consists of 9 acres of formally designed desert landscape, with 53,000 drought tolerant plants. Join me for a tour.

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Sunnylands was designed by landscape architect James Burnett at the behest of Leonore Annenberg. It was modeled after Van Gogh’s 1889 painting, Olive Trees.

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The gardens are laid out in a precise geometric grid and are completely flat. This would not be my choice for a desert garden, as I prefer the rolling, random-look, of natural desert landscapes, but the effect are sometimes striking.

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The garden was designed with plants selected so that something would be blooming year round.

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An amazing variety of of desert plants are growing here.

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And despite the geometric-grid design, there is the peaceful feel of the Impressionists here.

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Cheers to you from Sunnylands.

Native Plants of the Mojave Desert~

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Please Click to Enlarge for Optimal Viewing! These are the air sacks and flowers of the unusual Paperbag Bush or Flower Sage.

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This beautiful plant creates multi-colored air sacks that contain nuts. Purple flowers extend from the air sacs creating a reamarkably beautiful sight!
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Please see this link for more info and this interesting plant. I do have more photos for those interested,.
http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/salmex/all.html

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Dehydrated Prickly Pear Cactus, waiting for rain to come so they can engorge with water!

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Joshua Tree seed pods.

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The twisted shapes of The Joshua’s!

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Yucca flower remnant.

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Jumping Cholla cacti. They are called jumping because they easily detach when brushed and dig right on in! Ouch!

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Cholla catctus flowers.

What beauty there is to behold in every season in the living desert! Cheers to you from Joshua Tree National Park and The Mojave Desert!