Category: Critters

Tank- A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Truck!

Okay, so I guess I don’t get out much, but I’ve never seen such a thing as I saw on my way to the truck with my mom. I got so excited at first, I thought it was one of my buddies coming to play. “Whoa, wait a minute,” I thought, “That’s no dog.” But she did look kinda friendly so I ventured out to meet her. Poor thing, had a really funny looking snout and she was awfully low to the ground, I bet she’s terrible at catching the ball. “Hmmm… maybe we should  play,” I thought. I looked at my mom for an I’ll-throw-the-ball look, but she just seemed all worried about what might happen next. She...

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Critters- The Canada Goose

By Melissa Wynn Watching a flock of Canada Geese cross the sky in their distinctive  “V” pattern is a major sign that winter is returning to Mountain Valley Living territory. Their unique honking call bids a fond farewell to our high mountain lakes, ponds and meadows as they head south to the warmer climates of their valley wintering grounds. Some populations do not migrate if they have a stable food supply and a suitable year round climate. Parks, golf courses and farm lands are often very inviting to these opportunistic and sometimes bothersome flocks of feathered friends. These beautiful...

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Bug Wild- The Song of the Cricket

By Jim Moore, Entomologist Living within the lands of Mountain Valley Living are several kinds of crickets: Field Crickets, Ground Crickets, Tree Crickets, Camel Crickets, and, oh my, the so called Potato Bug Crickets.  Of these, my favorites are the ‘chirping’ field and ground crickets. I love sitting out in the evening listening to the sounds of the crickets, whether it is just the chirping of one lone cricket under the deck, or the chorus of hundreds singing within one of our mountain meadows. I am not alone in this affection. For centuries folks in China, both emperors and commoners...

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The Dancing Sandhill Cranes

Story By Eileen Majors Photo By Jan Ramelli We turned the corner heading onto a paved road just outside Westwood when a majestic scene caught our eye in the meadow beyond us. We ended up stopping in the middle of the road to catch the view, which caused us to eventually pull off to the side of the road. Out in the distance, a pair of Sandhill Cranes performed an ancient ritual, a mating dance that was truly spectacular to see. The dance included bows followed by leaps up to about eight feet high. We watched a fascinating series of bows, hops, skips and leaps, by both birds, each standing 3...

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The Eight-Spotted Skimmer Dragonfly

By Jim Moore, Entomologist Summertime is the season for tending all the vegetables and flowers in my gardens. I focus on those kind of flowers that attract flower-loving bugs; and I do get swarms of them: bees, wasps, butterflies, beetles, and other kinds of bugs. And then there are the predators: spiders, robber flies, damselflies, and dragonflies. This year the top predator was a dragonfly called the Eight-Spotted Skimmer, species Libellula forensis. Several of these dragonflies established their small territories by resting upon the tops of the rather tall stakes that I use to tie up the...

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Wolves Return To Northern California-Shasta & Lassen Packs Confirmed

By Eileen Majors Wolves have been discovered in California once again. Both the Shasta Pack and now the Lassen Pack have been officially identified by wildlife officials for inhabiting specific areas in NorCal. The Shasta Pack consisted of a breeding pair with five pups in 2015. While their whereabouts is unknown, one of the pups was detected in northwestern Nevada in 2016. The Lassen Pack consists of a male, a female and three pups, which have been photographed on remote trail cams in western Lassen County.  The adult female was collared and is being tracked.  The Lassen Pack regularly...

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Muskrat Love

Photos and Article by Jan Ramelli I don’t know anyone who can’t say “Muskrat” without remembering the 1976 hit song by Captain & Tennille peaking at number four on the Hot 100 chart! The Muskrat is usually active at night but can be seen at anytime of the day, especially in the spring. They eat aquatic vegetation, freshwater clams, crayfish, frogs and fish. September is their breeding season and the female can produce up to 5 litters per year, with up to 7 kits in each litter. After the young reach 2 weeks they can swim and dive, and the mother will often wean and drive them away at...

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I am not sure why I should change anything; everybody loves me around here. I am overzealous to say the least, or sleeping; that’s my average day. While I spend about 80% of the time snoozing, the other 20% is all about getting someone to throw me the ball. (Oh, I like eating too.) Recently my mom has been looking up information on pet obesity and now she’s talking about changing my diet. She is always running off on these tangents, and somehow I’m the one that pays the price. She has to get all involved just because October 11th is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. That’s all it took and...

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Bug Wild-The Cobalt Milkweed Beetle

Story & photos by Jim Moore A few years back I was hiking in the woods near  the town of Westwood. As always I was hoping to find some new exotic bug and then coming around a large manzanita shrub there it was!  I had read about these beetle gems of the Western States but had never found one. I was not quite sure it was one of them, because it was not on its namesake host plant. After roaming around a bit within the open woods nearby I finally did find a patch of Narrow-leaf Milkweed plants; and there I found a few more of these metallic blue beauties. The Cobalt Milkweed beetle, species...

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Tank- The Other Dog

Things have been rolling along pretty smoothly, I gotta say. My mom and dad have been taking me with them almost everywhere, even in the new car. I get treated pretty special,that’s for sure. What I love most is sitting out in the front yard while Dad throws me the ball. We do it all the time. Then one day for no reason at all, this other  dog comes strolling up on the porch like he owns the place. My dad gets real serious and puts me in the house. “Let me out!” I bark loudly, while I watch my dad pet him. “Are you kidding me? I’m trying to chase him out of here for ya!” “Maybe he’s a...

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Critters- The Great Horned Owl

Photos and Articles by Jan Ramelli This beautiful bird is more common in our area than one might think. Once you begin to look for the signs they will pop out at you often. A friend of mine, Paul Whitcome, told me about this particular nest and I began to photograph it at least weekly!  It has been a wonderful experience to get up before dawn so that I can be ready for them to return to their nest and watch the male and female raise their two owlets. In the winter and early spring, before the trees began to leaf out, look for large nests in trees.  The Great Horned Owl will lay their 2-3...

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