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By Chuck Cagara

Well, I hope you are all well and safe as we confront today's difficult circumstances.  I hope my photos will provide a pleasant diversion from the darker news of the day.

Today I was delighted to welcome the season's first Hooded Oriole to the yard for what I hope will be a long stay through late Spring and into Summer.  My inducements include nectar, jelly and meal worms!  And, if past is prologue, we can hope for six or seven males to visit the yard along with their mates in the coming days.  Woo-hoo!  When it rains, it pours!  Last year we also had the elusive Western Tanager for a few weeks and would be thrilled if it came back.

Now, that's an odd-colored squirrel you might be thinking.  I thought so too, being used to the slate-colored Western Grey Squirrel that I normally expect to see.  Turns out this one is a non-native Eastern Fox Squirrel, introduced in the early 1900s by settlors heading west.  Note the reddish-brown "foxy" coloration.  Hence the name.  Am I wrong on this one, readers?  Is it, in fact, a Western Grey?

Finally, we have the colorful Rufous-Sided Towhee which is now called the Spotted Towhee on the west coast notyed for its brilliant red eye.

Over and out for the moment.  Again, stay well, stay safe...

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bellagirl Apr 06, 2020 11:47 AM
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Being born in SB and of a 6th generation Santa Barbara family, I appreciate posts regarding the land and wildlife. It reminds me of my blessed childhood living near the foothills. I haven't posted on EdHat for many years because of snarkiness, so thank you all on this thread. Humor is one thing. Meanness is quite another. I spent two winters in the local mountains in a few years back. I was amazed at how much more bird and wildlife exists in the chaparral than below, but perhaps that may have been from the effects of DDT in the 50s and 60s? Not sure. I treasure the experience regardless. Thank you all for sharing what I consider the best part of the area you live in. Stay safe.

biguglystick Apr 06, 2020 12:29 PM
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I don't know WHO could possibly downvote your comment!!! Our local wildlife is a blessing, and we must protect it. I'm a 4th generation California native myself. I treasure the experiences too, whenever I see our wild neighbors!

Curmudgeon Apr 06, 2020 09:11 AM
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Thanks, one and all, for looking and commenting. This is what I had hoped for when posting - that the community would join the thread with interesting comments, anecdotes and observations. Hear! Hear!

crackpot Apr 06, 2020 08:48 AM
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How do you keep yellowjackets out of the grape jelly?

Curmudgeon Apr 06, 2020 12:50 PM
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Just had a wacky thought! Maybe put a small piece of raw or cooked hamburger nearby. The wasps would probably jump on that as their first choice. Or, we have been at outdoor parties where wasp traps were placed away from the food and crowd. Worked very well.

two abbys Apr 06, 2020 11:56 AM
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I would love to know that too. In late summer the yellow jackets are often on or flying around the oriole feeder and they definitely disrupt the orioles feeding.

Curmudgeon Apr 06, 2020 09:09 AM
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CRACKPOT - We've had few, if any, yellowjackets around the yard in recent years. Plenty of Honey Bees, though, and they're welcome to share the jelly with the birds.

haskelslocal Apr 06, 2020 08:19 AM
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Thanks for showing. I now know we had 3 hooded oriels in the backyard on Friday. Beautiful.

TWOSCOOPS Apr 06, 2020 04:26 AM
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"There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature." Henry David Thoreau.

JoeSixPack Apr 05, 2020 09:39 PM
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Dear EdHat friends,
JoeSixPack here, I’m social distancing and I wanted to share a report from the hinterlands.
Things here are fine, if quite remote…
I am more socially distant than 99% of the people in the world out here in my mountain cabin.
My little house sits on a bluff about 80 feet over the Santa Ynez River, nestled in a cluster of oak trees. It has warmed up enough to leave my bedroom window open at night and listen to the river. It has been running since the rains and the frogs are going off all night in the creek bed below. In the mornings I have a whole series of birds come through. The blue herons have returned to their same annual sycamore tree to have their babies. They will be here until August. The turkeys roost in their oak tree every night and every morning at sunrise they come swooping in to land in front of my deck. It’s also mating season for them so they have some very interesting rituals they go through. The buzzards have their own sycamore tree and they just hang out high in the top watching over everything until morning, then they ride thru the river valley on the thermal air when the sun warms things up - looking for something freshly dead. Otherwise, I have a bird feeder outside my bedroom window for all of the little birds that migrate through. I had to discourage the woodpeckers and blue jays. They bully the little birds and are too disruptive. My daily walk through my favorite trails always has squirrels and raccoons, lots more birds and sometimes deer. Then it’s back to work on my house. I have a backlog of 10 years of deferred projects that I have been working on - hardwood floors are almost complete. I plan to re-build the entry porch after that. Lots more to come...
As you can see, I’ve also got plenty of time for writing…
I hope things are well with all of you and you family.
Keep in touch with those you care about...

biguglystick Apr 06, 2020 12:33 PM
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Joe! What a wonderful report! How I wish I had a cabin in the mountains! I would love to be up there instead of down here. LOVE our native wildlife. Do you ever consider installing wildlife cameras on your property? Have any of you seen the one that is viral trending with all the animals over one log? Google it, it will make your day! Stay safe, and get those projects rolling!

a-1586152690 Apr 05, 2020 10:58 PM
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Thank you for this well written update on “life in the hinterland”. May you stay well.

PamSB Apr 05, 2020 10:52 PM
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I wanna be you when I grow up....:) Oh, wait, I'm 71...OK, next life. Sounds like you got it all figured out, Joe.

two abbys Apr 05, 2020 07:18 PM
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I have been feeding orioles grape jelly ever since I read about that here on Edhat a few years ago. This year we had a male hooded show up on February 29th, the earliest by far. This evening the feeder was crowded with male and female, hooded and northern orioles eating dinner in the rain.

mtndriver Apr 05, 2020 06:29 PM
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That’s a fox squirrel all right! They can be pretty destructive—eat avocados, other fruit. They’re bigger and more aggressive than our native grey squirrels. Thank you for the birds! How we love them. We get orioles here too, though not so many. Nesting in queen palms. Also often have nesting Calif. thrashers. That’s a treat!

biguglystick Apr 06, 2020 12:37 PM
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MTNDRIVER You are correct! I just read about where you can report Eastern Grey Squirrel sightings, in my conservation studies, but now I've misplaced that info, dang it! Yes, they are wreaking havoc here in California. It's a battle. Might I add here, to anyone wanting to rid themselves of squirrels or other little critters, PLEASE do not set out rat poison. EVER. Please.

macpuzl Apr 05, 2020 06:47 PM
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We have a pair (nesting, I hope) of thrashers that run out and greet me every morning as I pick up my paper, and solicit peanuts. Very musical and amusing. I have to break up the peanuts a bit to make it easier for them with those sickle beaks.

tagdes Apr 05, 2020 01:27 PM
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Pam, there are no hot spots in your area or Hope Ranch. eBird is showing lots at Wilcox (DFP), Botanic Garden and the Bird Refuge. Also over dozens of hot spots south of the freeway from IV to More Mesa.

a-1586123388 Apr 05, 2020 02:49 PM
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Thanks for mentioning ebird. Cool site. Wonder if there's something similar for all the plants and trees in Santa Barbara.

Thomas John Apr 05, 2020 12:48 PM
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I've seen two males on my Riviera walk this morning.

PamSB Apr 05, 2020 12:43 PM
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Chuck: I'm across from La Cumbre Jr. High (Modoc) and get hundreds of the orioles throughout the summer but haven't seen any yet (even though my jelly is out and ready). Can you give me an idea of where you live? (Or, if you prefer to e-mail, [email protected]). Thanks!

MasterChief Apr 05, 2020 11:45 AM
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Nice! Can't wait for them to visit my feeders.

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