Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ravens I have Known and Loved

When I think about Ravens (and I often do), there are certain aspects that I tend to dwell on.

First of all, Ravens are very social.  You rarely see one Raven.  They are usually in pairs or multiples of two.  They are loving with each other -- touching frequently, sharing food, and talking.  Always with the talking.
Raven Courtship
He's all puffed up and sexy looking and she's like, "Uh, yea, okay, honey."  
Raven Dance 12
There are 8 in the pic -- one is still in the tree.  Ravens are usually in pairs.
Next, they are amazing in flight.  Groups of them love to soar around the redwood trees and do dizzying aerial maneuvers   It's really something to watch.
In addition, they are smart . . . and naughty.  They use their intelligence to solve problems.  At my school, the ravens have figured out how to get down to the bottom of the garbage bags when there is only a little bit of trash in there.  They perch on the edge of the can and reach in to grab a bit of the bag.  Then they catch that part with their foot and grab lower for another bit of bag, pulling it up and holding it with their foot.  They repeat this until they can reach whatever tasty treat they so desperately wanted from the bottom of the garbage.  Our janitor, as you might imagine, *loves* ravens!  :)

Their appearance is something else as well.  They are a bird of extremes.  Their feathers are blacker than black.  Their beak is huge and intimidating.  Their feet are huge.  When you get close to them, they are fairly breathtakingly large.
Raven . . . toe tapping
Big beak, big feet.
Raven close-up
BIG feet.
Last of all, the noises that Ravens make are startling.  Enjoy these video clips.

Sorry the sound quality isn't better -- I took it with my camera.  There are more Raven videos on my YouTube channel.  Enjoy.

 I feel really lucky to live in an area where Ravens abound.

Why do Ravens Hop?
PS.  They jump, too. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Poetry: Measured Poem

(Each week Writer's Digest magazine offers a poetry prompt.  This week, it's a measured poem with lots of wiggle room on the definition of what that means. I'm inspired by a convo I just had on Facebook.  Thanks, Dawn, for the inspiration.)

How will I measure this day?
In moments of frustration?                                                 (Those what the hell kind of days)
Or fear? The paralyzing fear of one misstep crashing it all down around my clay feet
Or smiles of beaming pride                     (I like these days)

Never tedium though.
Never dull, clock-watching agony
Never the slow death of boredom

How will I measure this day?

All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2013, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form:  Free Verse 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Daily Photo(s) and Poem: Pterodactyl Attack

Incoming!  Brown Pelican

Heading right for me
Wings all askew and awkward
Then sweeping past me
You soar with sudden grace
You gawky pterodactyl

Brown Pelican
Graceful flight
Brown Pelican and Western Gull (juv)
All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2013, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form:  Tanka 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . .

It was "snowing" at California Academy of Sciences
Ruth enjoying faux snow at California Academy of Sciences
It was "snowing" at California Academy of Sciences
Gage and his hair enjoying faux snow at California Academy of Sciences

The Weather Service is telling us it's going to be cooooooooold tonight.  And, we're getting some rain so their is a 60% chance of snow tonight.  I'm not feeling it but wouldn't it be fun.  

When we were at the California Academy of Sciences last weekend, they were making fake snow indoors.  The kids enjoyed it.  I'm thinking we'd enjoy the real stuff more.  

It hasn't snowed here in Boulder Creek since the kids were little.  I wish I could believe it would happen but I don't.  Oh well. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Daily Poem: Trust me & Daily Photo: Let's play.

You just have to trust me on this one.
5:30 AM is no time
for wild-eyed, giant dogs
to rampage the house.
No, you can't bark.
You are huge,
great beast.

Great beast -- it's too early!
Let's play.
All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2013, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form:  Nonet 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Daily Photo: Hello Monday

This fish looks about as happy as I feel on this Monday after Winter Break.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Daily Photo: Illumination

Jellies at Steinhart Aquarium
Jellies responding to color changes at Steinhart Aquarium, San Francisco
More jellies at Steinhart
Same jellies, taken with flash -- glowy goodness

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Daily Photo/Daily Poem: Generations

Ruth, Mom, and Gage at California Academy of Sciences

My heart fills with joy
Counting the moments together

All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2013, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form:  Fibinocci  

Friday, January 4, 2013

I and the Bird: Stellers Jay

I and the Bird is my favorite birding experience on the Interwebs!  Their upcoming issue is on Jays.   These colorful and brazen cousins of Ravens and Crows are some of my favorite birds.  Here at my house, we have Stellers Jays.  They are beautiful birds with striking black and bright blue plumage as well as a head crest that adds to their dramatic appearance.

Steller's Jay
Stellers Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
Stellers Jays are often a large part of our birding life here at my house in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.  We are coastal mountains and we are at about 700 feet above sea level.  We will occasionally see Western Scrub Jays here but Stellers Jays are in charge here.

Each year, a pair of Stellers Jays tries to build a nest in a location that they think is ideal -- under a sheltered roof beam near our carport.  There is, however, no way for a bird to build a nest there.  There is nothing to anchor the nest to and anything that gets built is swept away either by the tails of the jays themselves or a mild breeze blowing through. These birds are amazingly persistent in their attempts to build this impossible nest, however.  We know this because we see and hear them in their attempts but also because they do not recycle the sticks and twigs they attempt to use but instead they get new ones and the pile of discarded twigs at the end of their process is huge -- large enough to cover the spigot and hoses on the ground underneath them.  (Here is an older post about this silly pair.  It links to an even older one but the pictures it links to are gone now -- it's been awhile!)

Stellers Jays make quite a presence at our house and we have had successful nesting happen.  The successful and smart Stellers Jays choose our front porch as a nesting site.  There are multiple surprises about this.  First our front porch is a busy, active place with comings and goings by adults, kids, and delivery people.  It is, however, covered in wisteria vines which provide an ideal nesting location -- hidden, secure, and protected.  Smart birds.  The other surprise about a nest of Stellers Jays is how exceptionally quiet they are.  Mom and dad when they sit on the nest are absolutely silent.  The babies are as well.  No scolding for coming too close from Mom and Dad bird.  No cheeps of hunger from the babies (except when Mom and Dad appear and then it's brief).

Here are a series of photos I took the last time we had a pair nest on the porch.  I was fortunate enough to arrive home from work one day just in time to see them fledge so you can see one of the goofy, young jays on his first outing.  They hung around the yard for a few days and then disappeared.

A tiny head
See that beady little baby eye?
Dem beebees again
There are three beady little eyes in this picture.  If you can't find them, click on it to see them on Flickr where I highlighted them. 
Hot Beebees!
It was very hot and I think this pose is more about cooling off than expressing hunger. 
Look who I caught visiting!
Caught one of the parents visiting the nest.  They are all silent because I'm so close.
Closeup on the beebees
They are getting bigger.  
Early morning beebees
This is one of the babies right before they fledged -- starting to look like mini-grownups. 
Flew the nest
Out in the world.  It seems like this one is wondering if leaving the nest was a good idea or not. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Daily Poem: Life is out there

Where the Gull was
Life is out there . . . 

All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2013, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form:  Haiga 

Daily Picture: Lazy is Good

This is what I've done for most of my vacation . . . just lazed around like a sea lion.  When they decided to be lazy, they are very, very good at it.

Raft of Sea Lions
A raft of sea lions . . . 

School starts up again on Monday. I'm trying to readjust my system to actually accomplishing things instead of lazing around on the couch playing The Elder Scrolls V:  Skyrim with Gage on the Xbox that Santa brought the kids.  That damn game is addictive!  

Here's some more looks at those lazy sea lions. 

Raft of Sea Lions being lazy
So lazy!
Deep sleeping Sea Lion
Deep sleep
Lazy Sea Lion
Totally out for the count

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Daily Poem: Renewal

It's really just a day, an ordinary day.
     (Out with the old;
         In with the new)
Collectively we agree
It's time to renew.

It's time to begin anew.
     (Out with the old;
         In with the new)
On this day, this ordinary day. 

All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2012, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form: Free Form

Daily Photo: Photobombed!

Raft of Sea Lions - photobombed by Western Gull
Even Western Gulls want to get into the photobomb craze!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year.  2013.  The world didn't end in 2012 to the surprise of many and the relief of most.  2012 was quite a year . . .

I took a lot pictures in 2012.  It was quite a year.

We did a lot of camping which is always our best family time!  We added to our family by getting Freya, our Irish Wolfhound puppy. The kids played music and Gage ran Cross Country and Track.  We had a partial solar eclipse.  We had our longest (and arguably best) big summer camping trip to date.  Ruth started high school.  We celebrated our celebrations and loved and laughed and cried together.

Highlights for me . . .

I got to spend a lot of time with these three people:

My family in 2012 - Gage, Greg, and Ruth
Freya - our new baby
Freya, our Irish Wolfhound puppy when we got to meet her
I hiked the Virgin Narrows River for the 3rd time and went farther than I've gone before and had the technology to safely take pictures there!  
We went higher than we've gone before in Rocky Mountain National Park. 
Here is Gage - 12 at 12,000 feet.  We intended to take a picture of Ruth at Pike's Peak (14 at 14,000 ft but there was a fire and we couldn't go there.) 
Still, Ruth got some great climbing in at Badlands National Park. 
I got to go back "home" again.  This is the hospital I was born in at the abandoned air force base at Glasgow, MT. 
We learned about the fun to be had in photobombing.  
I saw some amazing birds . . .  road runners and an eagle and an osprey fighting over an eel stand out this year.  We saw amazing wildlife, too including a life species -- Rocky Mountain Goats in Glacier National Park.
I don't think you can sum up a year in one post but reviewing my photos from 2012 was a nice way to wrap up that year and start thinking about the next.  

I hope you had a satisfying 2012 and are looking forward to new adventures in 2013.  We Millers definitely did and are!