Tue 30 Jun 2009
A female Anna’s hummingbird has taken to frequenting the flowers growing in wine-barrel tubs on my deck.
The website Hummingbirds in Motion reports, “The hummingbird (scientific family: trochilidae) does not fly in the same way other birds do. They can fly forward, backward, up, down, and even upside-down. The motion of their wings changes its angle with each flap. Unlike other birds, hummingbirds flap their wings horizontally in the shape of a figure 8. They also expand and contract their tail feathers, which allows them to hover in mid-air.”
This week I saw a wild turkey scare off a young deer on this hill by flapping its wings, and I’ve previously seen horses having fun chasing turkeys around in the Giacomini family’s pasture next to mine.
Wild turkeys are not native to West Marin but were introduced here for hunting. In 1988, wildlife biologists from the California Department of Fish and Game released a small flock on the Loma Alta Ranch overlooking the San Geronimo Valley. This original flock quickly grew, and many of the birds migrated first to the San Geronimo Valley and then to other parts of West Marin.
When a flock took up residence in a stand of eucalyptus trees west of Tomales in 2000, relations with townsfolk soon became strained. The turkeys tore up gardens, scratched parked cars by climbing over them, and threatened children walking along the street.
The menacing peaked in January 2001 when two tom turkeys lunged at a pair of schoolchildren riding scooters. The children escaped unharmed but had to abandon their scooters as they fled.
In March 2005, a low-flying turkey hit a power line over Highway 1 in Tomales, causing the line to slap against another line and blacking out the town. The turkey, which fell to the ground with some singed tail feathers, was initially dazed by the incident but then wandered off.
To enhance habitat for great blue herons at Bear Valley Ranch (Historic W Ranch), the Point Reyes National Seashore has torn down historic structures, built new ones, and restored the primeval parking lot on land the previous owner had treated as an open field.
With a typically inquisitive expression, possums are among the cutest of creatures, as I’m sure you would agree.
A possum admires its reflection in the glass of my kitchen door.
The “common opossum” is not native to California but rather the Deep South and was introduced into the San Jose area around 1900 “for meat, delicious with sweet potatoes,” Point Reyes Station naturalist Jules Evens writes in The Natural History of the Point Reyes Peninsula. By 1931, he notes, possums had spread as far south as the Mexican border but did not reach Point Reyes until 1968.