Happy Voting Day Barbara,

GREATER SCAUP, the rare guest
GREATER SCAUP, the rare guest

So the female GREATER SCAUP stayed a few more days and then left for her Alaska breeding experience. The GREATER SCAUP is an unusual river guest, because they tend to favor Europe. This duck and the COMMON GOLDENEYE share the same eye color, but their beaks clearly set them apart. And talking about COMMON GOLDENEYE: the little female is still paddling on the river with a drooping right wing. She might become our summer guest.

female COMMON GOLDENEYE with drooping wing
female COMMON GOLDENEYE with drooping wing

For many years this gentle, shy man and I have shared the San Lorenzo River levee. You’ll find him sitting relaxed on the bank, watching river life or standing under the Riverside Ave. bridge, studying the water or spot him down by the Trestle bridge, picking up litter. You may have noticed him walking deep in thought on the path, coffee cup dangling from his hand. A few years ago he started to acknowledge me: a quick head nod, decorated with a timid smile This celebrated the beginning of our slow, sapient interactions. We have graduated to swapping river observations, which wouldn’t make sense to any other person. Our exchanges employ many tools, which work amazingly well. I orientate myself on his mimicked bird sounds, his hands gestures, that paint shapes and actions in the air and his Spanish-English. He listens thoughtfully to my German-English, fleshed out with my sound effects. His river observations are stunningly diverse, detailed and I swear he doesn’t miss a critter. During our last encounter he talked about the levee snakes and how sad he was to find two dead after recent bank mowing. Then suddenly his eyes focused on something behind me, vocalizing shoo sounds. Turning around I grasped, that he was interrupting a male MALLARD’s attack on a MALLARD Mama with her two ducklings. He explained bashfully, that the male’s behavior left the ducklings vulnerable to HAWK attacks. Little did he know, that he was dealing with an other secret member of the MALLARD Mama Solidarity Club. I really hope you meet him one day.


The little fleck was moving agitated up and down on the wire, which crosses the river by the Riverside Ave. bridge. The reason for the speckle’s turmoil was a RED-TAILED HAWK, perching sedately on the wire pole. The fleck uncloaked itself as a male HOUSEFINCH, who was ready to make mincemeat out of HAWK. The small, gutsy bird steadily got closer to the huge bird while transmitting his high pitch displeasure, which the HAWK watched with serene disinterest. Then the HAWK got bored and stared off into the distance, instantly causing the little, heroic bird to stop moving and contemplate his next move, which turned out to be preening. Two members of the HOUSEFINCH family landed on the wire, ready to show their support with agitated behavior. The HAWK checked them out with a blasé look and the supporters gave up trying to intimidate the big bird. They stayed a little longer, improved their looks by preening a few feathers and then flew off, leaving male HOUSEFINCH in charge of the HAWK. By the time I left, these two were sitting peacefully next to each other and three CLIFF SWALLOWs deemed it safe to join them.

Family supporters for the male HOUSEFINCH
Family supporters for the male HOUSEFINCH

Next time I tell you about Paddle Project feedback to the 5/23 Sentinel article.
Life blossoms greetings, jane


  1. Hi Jane,

    Again, a simply wonderful post. I could feel in my bones from your description the wonder of the regular river visitor – his connectedness to the river. I just love that we are including people as well as birds in our blog. In this we are definitely on the same wave length!!:o)

    I was also fascinated by your tale of the house finch and the hawk. I am still mystified by this huge raptor that seems to ignore what might be easy prey. Do they not like the taste of finches? Are the finches too quick for them? The crows are bigger and they work together so it is a little easier to understand the hawks calmly ignoring them. But finches?

    Anyway, fine writing.

    The California vote left me in tears. I hope Bernie fights on to the convention. Hillary is a Republican. The party needs to split, not unite.

    Barbara >


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