Animals

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Godwit Days Takes Flight Again, Virtually

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2021 at 11:46 AM

Flying Godwits artwork by Gary Bloomfield
  • Flying Godwits artwork by Gary Bloomfield
After taking a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Godwit Days Festival takes flight again — online! This year's festival, like so many beloved local events, has adapted itself for the times. Instead of taking to the marshes, mudflats and coasts, participants and guides will gather 'round their individual devices April 16 through 18 for live-streamed sessions like, The Big Hour: Facebook Live at the Arcata Marsh with Rob Fowler of Fowlerope Birding Tours & wildlife artist Gary Bloomfield, Zoom events like Humboldt Birding: Past, Present & Future, A Birds & Beers Social Zoom, as well as prerecorded lectures, sessions and more.  The winner of Humboldt County’s Bird of the Year for 2020, as well as winners in the 18th annual student bird art contest will also be announced online.

In a press release, Godwit Days Board chair Alex Stillman said, “We wanted to keep Godwit Days in the public eye after we had to cancel the April 2020 event, but we needed to do it safely and without spending much money; thus, we came up with a virtual festival. I hope people will enjoy the content and donate accordingly, so that we can return in 2022 with a full-blown, in-person festival.”

While the event is free, donations are gratefully accepted as they are what keeps the event alive and running year after year.

Keep abreast of updates and information on the Godwit Days Facebook page and look for the complete schedule and instruction for how to view the sessions, posted soon at www.godwitdays.org.

For more, read the press release below.

Godwit Days Festival Returns, Goes Virtual

You may be among the people who’ve been wondering what is happening with Godwit Days in 2021. Will it again be postponed due to Covid-19?

Well, the suspense is over! The Godwit Days Spring Migration Birding Festival will be offering a free, virtual, three-day program April 16 through 18. It will highlight some favorite species and the spots where they occur.

Most sessions will be 60 to 90 minutes in length, with breaks in between. Some will be live streamed (and also recorded for future viewing) and others will be pre-recorded and posted online.

Participants will be asked to make donations to keep the festival going, both this year and beyond. (In 2020, the festival had to cancel a mere 6 weeks before the event, after money had been spent that couldn’t be recouped.)

The complete program schedule will be posted soon at www.godwitdays.org, as will instructions on how to access the sessions. Among the sessions being planned:

· A Bird in the Hand: Banding at the Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory featuring HBBO staff and/or volunteers

· Curiosities & Oddities in the Humboldt State Wildlife Museum with Curator Tamar Danufsky

· Humboldt Birding: Past, Present & Future, A Birds & Beers Social Zoom

· Surveying Shorebirds of Humboldt Bay: Plenary Lecture by HSU wildlife professor Dr. Mark Colwell

· “The Big Hour”: Facebook Live at the Arcata Marsh with Rob Fowler of Fowlerope Birding Tours & wildlife artist Gary Bloomfield

· Bird Songs & Calls: An Identification Workshop with birder/biologist David Juliano

· Shorebird Fly-off: Facebook Live at the Arcata Marsh with Dr. Mark Colwell & Rob Fowler

· The Language of Birds: Keynote Lecture by Nathan Pieplow, blogger on recording, identifying, and interpreting bird sounds (www.earbirding.com)

· Seeking Amphibians in Del Norte County with California State Parks biologist Tony Kurz

· Tips & Techniques for Sketching Birds by Gary Bloomfield

· Spotted Owl Search with Green Diamond Resource Company staff, Rob Fowler & Gary Bloomfield

· A Tribute to Dr. Stanley Harris: Memories of HSU Ornithology Prof “Doc” Harris

Also to be posted on line during the festival: announcement of the winner of Humboldt County’s Bird of the Year for 2020, as well as winners in the 18th annual student bird art contest, cosponsored by Friends of the Arcata Marsh and Redwood Region Audubon Society (RRAS), and in the 16th annual student nature writing contest, sponsored by RRAS.

“We wanted to keep Godwit Days in the public eye after we had to cancel the April 2020 event,” says Board chair Alex Stillman. “But we needed to do it safely and without spending much money; thus, we came up with a virtual festival. I hope people will enjoy the content and donate accordingly, so that we can return in 2022 with a full-blown, in-person festival.”

Follow us on Facebook or visit www.godwitdays.org for festival updates or to make a tax-deductible contribution at any time.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

No Touching: It's Seal Pupping Season

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2021 at 6:35 AM

Seal pups are cute, but don't touch. They are just waiting for mom to return. - FILE
  • File
  • Seal pups are cute, but don't touch. They are just waiting for mom to return.
The Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, which rescues animals along the coastlines of Humboldt and Del Norte counties, is reminding folks that it's seal pupping season.

That means encounters with a young one alone on the beach are possible — most likely because the mother is out foraging for food in the water — and it’s important to keep a distance and keep dogs away so she will return to her pup. And absolutely no touching.

If worried, the center has a stranding line that can be reached at (707) 951-4722 or click the “call now” feature on the nonprofit's Facebook page, which can be found here.

The center had its first rescue of the year this week — a harbor seal pup dubbed “Kai” that was found on Centerville Beach in McKinleyville and taken in being under observation by the center.

“He was put on watch for a couple of days on Centerville Beach in Humboldt County before determining that his mother was not returning,” a Facebook post states. “We brought him to the hospital here in Crescent City (on Monday) where he had a check-up with the veterinarian. He is just a couple days old and is doing well so far, with his only problem being a terrible case of the hiccups when he arrived.”

The center notes that donations play an important role in its efforts to rescue marine mammals in need. More information on how to help is also available on the center’s Facebook page.

Meet Kai! The first Harbor Seal pup of our busy season. He was put on watch for a couple of days on Centerville Beach...

Posted by Northcoast Marine Mammal Center on Tuesday, February 23, 2021
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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Rare Catch: 'Butters' the Albino Crab Finds a Home at HSU's Marine Lab

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2021 at 1:51 PM

"Butters," a rare albino crab, has a new home at the HSU Marine Lab. - GRANT EBERLE/HSU MARINE LAB
  • Grant Eberle/HSU Marine Lab
  • "Butters," a rare albino crab, has a new home at the HSU Marine Lab.
An albino Dungeness crab caught in the Bay Area was brought up to local outfit Comet Fisheries, which help revive the unusual crustacean by placing it in an aeriated tank before HSU’s Marine Lab came Tuesday to take it to a new home.

It now goes by "Butters."

Based on pictures on a Facebook post by Comet Fisheries, based over at Woodley Island, a crab expert says looks like the real thing.

The crab has been taken in by HSU's Marine Lab, which notes it is not currently open to the public due to COVID-19.

" We will keep the crab until we are able to display it to the general public," a Facebook post by the lab on the Comet Fisheries' site states.
Scott Groth, a shellfish biologist with Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW),  described them as rare, according to an announcement from the Oregon Coast Aquarium when it had one on exhibit, possibly as rare as one in a million.

“In Oregon, we harvest between 15-20 million pounds of Dungeness a year,” Groth told the aquarium. “Each adult crab averages about two pounds. That’s something like 8 million crabs annually. We receive reports of these anomalous individuals maybe two or three times a year, so the odds of finding them are quite low.”

Edit's note: This story has been updated to correct where the crab was found and the role of a local fisheries outfit.
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Monday, February 8, 2021

For the Birds, It's Time to Hit Pause on Major Trimming, Vegetation Removal

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2021 at 6:25 AM

Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) known to supplement their diet with flying insects and line their nests with spider silk. - FILE PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • File photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) known to supplement their diet with flying insects and line their nests with spider silk.
For the birds, the city of Arcata is reminding residents to avoid tree trimming or other major yardwork that disturbs or removes vegetation as nesting season arrives.

According to a news release, the first of the month marked the start of the early nesting season, when hummingbirds and birds of prey, including kites, hawks, owls and eagles, begin bedding down, followed by most others around mid-April through the summer months.

“Major disturbances to vegetation, especially trees, should be avoided unless there is a thorough check for these nesting birds prior to beginning work,” the city’s release states. “Weeding and mowing lawns are acceptable activities during this time.”

To determine whether nesting is taking place, the city offers these tips:

To detect bird nests, watch bird behavior. If a bird is carrying nest material or food to the same place in a patch of vegetation more than once, there is likely a nest in the area. Also, look for concentrations of white droppings on the ground, then check the trees or vegetation above the droppings for a nest. Actual nest structures are typically well-concealed and may not be seen if they are located in dense vegetation.
If a bird is observed repeatedly visiting a nest or suspected nest site, building or sitting on a nest, it is considered “active” with eggs or nestlings. If an active nest is found prior to work, avoid work in the area until the young have fledged. A 50-foot no-work buffer should be applied for songbirds and a 500-foot no-work buffer should be applied for raptors.

The city recommends limiting any tree removal activity to the period of Sept. 1 to Jan. 31 and notes that “a tree removal permit may be required for trees of 16 inches or more in diameter at chest height.”

Find the full city release below:
The City of Arcata would like to remind the community that early bird nesting season has begun. Humboldt Bay and its surrounding areas are home to a wide variety of bird species, so it is especially important that all community members check for active nests before trimming or removing vegetation during nesting season.

The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to pursue, hunt, capture, kill or transport any migratory bird or the parts, nests or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid federal permit.

Contractors are advised to have a qualified biologist conduct nesting bird surveys prior to beginning any project that requires vegetation removal, and the Environmental Services Department has some helpful guidelines for all members of the community to follow:

Early bird nesting season lasts from Monday, February 1 to Friday, April 15. At this time, hummingbirds and birds of prey including hawks, owls, kites, eagles, vultures and falcons begin to nest. Major disturbances to vegetation, especially trees, should be avoided unless there is a thorough check for these nesting birds prior to beginning work. Weeding and mowing lawns are acceptable activities during this time.

Primary nesting season for most birds will take place Friday, April 15 until Tuesday, August 31. Disturbances to vegetation should be avoided during this time unless a thorough check for nesting birds is completed prior to beginning work. Weeding and mowing lawns are still acceptable activities during this time.

Wednesday, September 1 through Monday, January 31, 2022, is the best time to plan for tree removal, invasive plant species management, mowing and brush clearing. Please note that a tree removal permit may be required for trees of 16 inches or more in diameter at chest height.

To detect bird nests, watch bird behavior. If a bird is carrying nest material or food to the same place in a patch of vegetation more than once, there is likely a nest in the area. Also, look for concentrations of white droppings on the ground, then check the trees or vegetation above the droppings for a nest. Actual nest structures are typically well-concealed and may not be seen if they are located in dense vegetation.

If a bird is observed repeatedly visiting a nest or suspected nest site, building or sitting on a nest, it is considered “active” with eggs or nestlings. If an active nest is found prior to work, avoid work in the area until the young have fledged. A 50-foot no-work buffer should be applied for songbirds and a 500-foot no-work buffer should be applied for raptors.

For more information on vegetation management, bird safety and construction guidelines, click here or call the Environmental Services Department at 707-822-8184.
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Thursday, January 7, 2021

We all Need this Video Right Now. Cue the Guinea Pigs!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 at 1:22 PM

Amid everything that’s going on in the world — from the COVID pandemic to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — the Sequoia Park Zoo has come through with the video we all need right now. Cue the Guinea pigs' bedtime parade!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

New Calf on the Farm

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 3:45 PM

A new addition at the SWAP farm. - COURTESY OF THE HCSO
  • Courtesy of the HCSO
  • A new addition at the SWAP farm.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office introduced one of the new additions at its SWAP farm via Facebook this week, asking for suggestions on what to name the little one.

The farm, located in Fortuna, provides low-risk offenders with an opportunity to help care for the animals and the property while staying out of the jail. According to the HCSO, the farm started in the 1980s produces thousands of pounds of food each year, with some being used to feed jail inmates.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Humboldt County Sheriff Deputies Reunite Dog/Owner

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 3:59 PM

It's happy trails and happy tails again after a scare this morning when a hiker and her canine companion became separated at Hiller Dog Park in McKinleyville after the pooch got loose and the hiker found herself lost in the wooded trails while searching for her dog.

Fortunately, after a call to 911 and some nimble rescue work by Humboldt County Sheriff's Office deputy Tristan Smith, who climbed down a 50-foot ravine to retrieve the wayward dog from where it had fallen, the missing 2-year-old hound, Kari, and her owner, Berti, were safely reunited.

For more on the good news, see the post below from the HCSO's Facebook page:

Meet Kari, a rambunctious 2-year-old hound dog who gave her owner quite a scare this morning. Berti, age 75, was out...

Posted by Humboldt County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

NCJ Archive: Bring on the Bugs

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 10:23 AM

Female cross orb weaver showing distinctive cross pattern on her back. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Female cross orb weaver showing distinctive cross pattern on her back.
Editor's Note: It's that time of year again, the pumpkin spiders (aka cross orb weavers) are back. And while the world around us may seem a bit, well, scary right now, at least nature is staying the course by delivering up a cadre of crawling critters just in time for Halloween. So, here's a story on their annual arrival from the fall of 2007, a simpler time, perhaps, but isn't it also nice to know some things haven't changed.

There has been a lot of bug action at my house lately. On warm nights, the chorus of crickets from the front yard is loud enough to get a little embarrassing. If I go outside and walk up and down the street, it becomes obvious that the entire cricket scene is happening at my house alone. They have made themselves very, very comfortable in the tall grasses and asters in my front yard. That’s great, but their enthusiasm can be a bit much after a while. I keep waiting for the neighbors to step outside and tell them to keep it down.
The spiders have moved in as well. A cross spider hung inside my kitchen window for a month, growing bigger every day. Outside, more cross spiders — easily recognizable by their brown bodies and spotty white crosses on their backs — strung elaborate webs between the shrubs. Just now, as I was typing this, a spider dropped from the rafters onto my desk. Is this Halloween season or what?

Ladybugs waddle across my kitchen table in the morning. One night, a moth fluttered onto the book I was reading in bed. The next night, a spider showed up in the same place at the same time. “All right,” my husband said, jumping out of bed. “That’s enough. Do something about that spider!” “

Wouldn’t it be interesting,” I asked, as I swept the spider carefully onto the back of a magazine, “if a different bug came to visit us in bed every night at the same time?”

“No, that would not be interesting!” he said. “Where are you taking that spider?” I think he suspected that I’d set up a bug menagerie in some unused corner of the house, but I assured him that I was going to sweep my little visitor out the window.

I got to wondering why so many creepy bugs appear, as if on cue, around Halloween, so I called our resident bug expert Peter Haggard, who wrote Insects of the Pacific Northwest (Timber Press, 2006) with his wife Judy.
“It’s a good time of year for spiders,” he said. “Their life cycle is such that the females are ready to lay eggs right now. You might see a cup of sewed-together leaves off the web where she spends her time. In the cup you will find her husband. She’ll keep getting bigger and bigger until she lays her egg case, and then she’ll lose 80 percent of her body mass. In fact, that egg case will be larger than she is. And she’ll die within a couple of days.” There it is: the drama of a spider’s life. Big pregnant spider in the center of the web, little husband off to the side, and a litter of eggs that will have to fend for themselves.

The brown cross spider is a European introduction that does well around humans, but there’s a native spider that’s easy to spot right now too: Argiope aurentica, the big black and yellow spider that also lays its eggs in the fall. I asked Pete if people should be worried about getting bitten by these spiders.
An Argiope aurentica. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • An Argiope aurentica.
“You know,” he said, “all spiders make their living biting. Most of their toxins don’t do more harm than a mosquito. Spiders have no interest in biting you. I handle them all the time, and they’re just not that aggressive.” (Although I wasn’t worried about getting bitten by the spider that was living in my kitchen window, I did decide to move her outside, in the name of marital harmony, once I realized that she was getting ready to lay eggs.)

He had some surprising information about the crickets in my yard, too. “You know, there was no cricket noise around here years ago,” he said. “In the last decade or so, gardens have really gotten to be full of crickets. But they’re an introduced species sold in pet stores. You know, the black ones? They like to live under boards and around people’s homes.” Although they’re not native, they’re not much of a problem, he tells me. “We have native crickets too, but you won’t see them around humans much. It’s these introduced crickets that like to hang around and chirp at sunset. That’s all right — it’s a nice sound.”
A woolly bear. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • A woolly bear.

He also suggests keeping an eye out for banded woollybears, Pyrrharctia isabella, the fuzzy black and orange caterpillars that turn into orange moths. “They say you can tell what kind of winter we’re going to have by looking at how wide the orange band is around their bodies,” Pete said. “I don’t know about that, but they’re interesting to watch, anyway.”
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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Otter Watch Out (Spoiler Alert: Cute Video)

Posted By on Sat, Oct 17, 2020 at 6:55 PM

If you see otters, like these on a log at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, let HSU’s River Otter Citizen Science Project know. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • If you see otters, like these on a log at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, let HSU’s River Otter Citizen Science Project know.
Once COVID-19 closed down the Humboldt State University campus, professor Jeff Black realized he wouldn't be walking to campus for his wildlife lectures, so he decided to get his daily exercise by going to the Arcata Marsh, while also keeping an eye out for otters.

And, he's asking others to do the same.

Spearheaded by Black, the River Otter Citizen Science Project started in 1999 looks to describe the distribution and populations of otters in the coasts, wetlands and watersheds of Humboldt, Del Norte and adjacent counties. Anytime residents or visitors spot an otter at any of these locations, they can document the data by reporting it on the River Otter Citizen Science website.

Out of the hundred times Black estimates he's visited the marsh in recent months, he says he's spotted otters about 80 times, maybe due to luck or because he’s learned a lot about how to find otters and the places where they tend to gather.

Since he began visiting the Arcata Marsh at the beginning of the pandemic, Black has seen two otters with a pup (he says if there was a way to grab the DNA of the second otter, we would be able to see that the otter is the daughter of the mother otter and  helping her with her newborn pup, as recent studies have shown). Black says he has seen the mother otter teach her pup where to hunt for food at different areas of the marsh.

Black has also seen a group of seven otters come through the marsh from Humboldt Bay, and a group of four hunt for food.

“It’s been really fun seeing the otters making use of the marsh,” Black says.

Black says that the number of otter sightings at the marsh haven’t changed during the pandemic, with about 400 sightings being reported to the River Otter Citizen Science Project — the same as past years.

With that being said, the city of Arcata recently reminded visitors and residents alike of the need to drive slowly near the marsh, especially on I Street, with not just otters but other wildlife making their way across local streets.

If you see an otter, no matter where you are, report it to the HSU’s River Otter Citizen Science Project here.
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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Sequoia Humane Society Rescue Pup Among Top 10 Shelter Dog Makeovers

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 at 4:24 PM

Chloe's incredible transformation. - SEQUOIA HUMANE SOCIETY
  • Sequoia Humane Society
  • Chloe's incredible transformation.
A Sequoia Humane Society rescue dog named Chloe was named a finalist in the ninth annual Dirty Dogs Contest after an extreme makeover.

Chloe came into the humane society with severely matted fur— to the point where she could barely see through the hair covering her eyes. It took shelter employees and volunteers hours of careful grooming to shave off her matted fur, most of which came off in one piece.

Chloe now lives with a loving forever family that gives her the pampering she deserves, states a release.

According to the release, Chloe is competing for a chance to win the Sequoia Humane Society a grant, "the contest donates grooming supplies to rescues and shelters nationwide."

"The animal shelters and rescue groups affiliated with these transformations will receive monetary grants to further support their efforts. First place takes home $5,000, second place receives $2,000 and third place earns $1,000. The Dirty Dogs Contest runs until Nov. 3, 2020," the release states.

People can vote for their favorite pup makeover at www.dirtydogsgallery.com

Visit the Dirty Dogs Contest Before and After Photo Gallery to see the many incredible dog transformations.

Read the full press release below.

STERLING, Ill. (Oct. 14, 2020) – Chloe was rescued from a high kill shelter and sent to Sequoia Humane Society in Eureka, California. Her fur was so severely matted she could barely see through the hair covering her eyes. After hours of careful grooming, most of her matted coat came off in one piece. What emerged was a pretty pup ready to rock a photoshoot. She now lives with a loving forever family that gives her the pampering she deserves. Happily, Chloe’s story didn’t end there – she’s been named a finalist in the ninth annual Dirty Dogs Contest. The brainchild of pet industry leaders Wahl and Greater Good Charities, the contest donates grooming supplies to rescues and shelters nationwide. Hundreds of these unbelievable makeovers are shared in the Dirty Dogs Before & After Photo Gallery – and the Top 10 Shelter Dog Makeovers of 2020 (including Chloe) are now competing for monetary grants.

Visit the Dirty Dogs Before & After Photo Gallery (dirtydogsgallery.com) to see amazing makeovers, and learn how you can vote for your favorite.

To help bring more awareness to the Dirty Dogs contest this year, Wahl turned to animal advocate and dog dad to eleven adorable rescue pups, Lee Asher. Dog lovers are a breed all their own, and some would say Lee Asher leads the pack. He and his pooch posse have spent the last four years traveling the country hosting adoption events, and educating people on the rewards of dog rescue.

“If shelter dogs could talk they’d have amazing stories to tell; unfortunately, they can’t,” said Asher. “So I’m happy to lend my voice, and help shed some light on the importance of grooming when it comes to adoption. The dog’s appearance can completely transform, but more importantly, the dog feels healthier and happier, and their true personality can finally shine through. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to capture the heart of their new human.”

Vote for Chloe in the Dirty Dogs Contest

Ten of the most dramatic transformations from the gallery, including Chloe, have been selected to participate in the Dirty Dogs Contest (dirtydogscontest.com). Public votes will determine the top three winners. The animal shelters and rescue groups affiliated with these transformations will receive monetary grants to further support their efforts. First place takes home $5,000, second place receives $2,000 and third place earns $1,000. The Dirty Dogs Contest runs until Nov. 3, 2020. To vote for one of the dogs, visit DirtyDogsContest.com.

For more information on Wahl’s complete line of pet products, including grooming tips, visit WahlUSA.com, or follow @WahlPets on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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