Close Cropper

(Burrowing Owl Update Below)

California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

A landscape manager in charge of a golf course might consider putting a family of California Ground Squirrels in charge of mowing the putting greens. Instead of a noisy, expensive machine, these vegetarian Hoovers silently trim the young grass within millimeters of the soil at no cost. Of course, on a golf course they might create additional holes for balls to drop into, which could be a problem…. More than half a dozen of these little fur balls were munching on the new grass along the east side pathway after the rains stopped. They aren’t waiting for the grass to grow a couple of inches tall, or more. They’re chomping at it in the infant stage. They generally love new seedlings as young and fresh as they can get them. They’re particularly lethal on California Poppies, which is why we don’t have millions of these native flowers all over the park. The squirrels’ love for baby greens is also the reason why Chavez Park Conservancy volunteers put up plastic screens to protect the new native pollinator plantings around the Native Plant Area; see “Planting Party,” Nov 20 2022. Now if we could only train the squirrels to munch only on nasty exotic invasive weeds and leave wanted native pollinator plants alone ….

Burrowing Owl Update

No owl this morning! I could not spot the bird in either Perch B or Perch A. This has happened before. The owl went to an unknown place on Nov. 2, 3, 13, 14, 19, 24, and 29, and on December 16, 20, and 25. (Here’s the calendar of its positions.) This is the first day in January that it has been absent from its usual spots. It must be somewhere, but so far no one has found the place or places where it goes. If you see it elsewhere, or if you see that it’s returned to its known perches today, Monday, please text me at 510-717-2414 or email Thank you. I will check again tomorrow morning and post an update here at 5 pm as usual.

Here by way of consolation is a photo that park visitor Becca Todd sent in today:

This actually looks like an AI fake made with Dall-E. But it’s a real photo that a real photographer took before Dall-E went public on the web. It comes off the national Audubon website. Thanks to Becca for the photo and the background by way of authentication.

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