Category: On animals

Watching the Raptors Watch Us

By John Yunker,

Based in San Diego Country, the Wildlife Research Institute is an amazing organization that works to protect wildlife and its habitat.

Every year they invite the public to the grasslands of Ramona (north of San Diego) for a Hawk Watch. WRI played a key role in keeping these grasslands free from development and, in doing so, has protected an area rich in wildlife — and a popular wintering ground for hawks and eagles.

We attended a hawk watch several years ago and it was a relatively small affair. We attended again last weekend and were impressed at how many people were there, including lots of families. In a region where it seems people care only about expanding highways, it’s nice to see that in fact that there are plenty of folks who want to see nature preserved.

WRI works with another organization, Project Wildlife, to rehabilitate injured animals. The staff brought along a few of their rescued birds for show and tell. These birds are unable to survive out on their own.

Here we have a Peregrine Falcon — the fastest bird on the planet.

Peregrine Falcon

And here’s a screech owl — this little guy is mostly blind and has bad hearing.

Screech Owl

And below is a red-shouldered hawk.

red-shouldered hawk

We also saw a ferruginous hawk and a red-tailed hawk … not to mention a golden eagle out in the grasslands.

We also saw a curious coyote in the distance, possibly wondering what all the commotion was about.

Coyote in Ramona

If you’re in the San Diego area, check out the Hawk Watch. These events happen every Saturday in January and February.

  Category: On animals, On nature
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The Animals Among Us

By John Yunker,


red fox on san juan island

When we announced last month that Ashland Creek Press was planning to publish an anthology devoted to short stories about how the lives of animals and humans intersect, we had no idea what kind of response we would get.

I’m happy to say that the response has been amazing. The quality and quantity of stories has not only kept us quite busy — it has inspired us.

To know that so many other writers out there are devoting their talents to these complex, powerful, and important issues is heartening.

We’re now more than a third of our way toward a completed anthology, titled Among AnimalsWe expect to be setting a final submission deadline and a target date for publication early in the new year. Subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date on deadlines.

If you’re a writer with a story to submit (previously published stories are okay), here’s how to submit.

How to spot animal abuse — and how to help

By Midge Raymond,

The Ashland Daily Tidings published a feature today with some important information on how to know whether an animal is in need of help, and how to get that help. Animal cruelty is illegal in every state, and it’s a felony in forty-six. And it’s well documented, of course, that people who abuse animals also (or eventually) harm humans as well.

While this article is specific to the Ashland area, wherever you are, if you see abuse or neglect, immediately call the local police or 911. Document what is happening (with notes or a camera phone), and always follow up to make sure someone has investigated and the animal is safe. Visit the Humane Society website for more information on how to recognize abuse and what to do.

This Tidings feature offers all this information as well as inspiring words from those in the community who love and protect animals. Check out this video, where you’ll meet some of the beautiful horses at the Equamore horse sanctuary, including Sara, pictured below, and the wonderful people who care for her and forty-five other rescued and retired horses.

In the video you’ll also hear from artist Dana Feagin, who supports local sanctuaries and rescue groups as a devoted volunteer and also by donating a portion of the proceeds of her art sales to these organizations (and her pet paintings, many of which are of shelter animals, are amazing!). She did a portrait of our General Manager, Theo, and she captured his snarky likeness just perfectly. Even Theo seems to agree.

In the article you’ll find links to local shelters and sanctuaries that you can support — by donating, volunteering, and/or adopting a pet. And if you’re from outside Ashland, check out your own local animal shelter and see what you can do. From pet food to old blankets to time to money, every bit helps — and all of these places rely on the support of the community to continue the important work they do.

Wild turkeys

By Midge Raymond,

Earlier this fall, before the rain and snow arrived, I went to the park to read and looked up to find myself surrounded by wild turkeys. (Click here to see them chowing down not far from my picnic blanket.)

I’ve seen them before, usually up on the hiking trails, so it was wonderful to find them in the park (dogs aren’t allowed in Lithia Park, which makes it a haven for all sorts of wildlife…bears and cougars have also been seen here). The turkeys hung around for a while, then wandered off, then eventually wandered back, coming almost close enough for me to reach out and pet them (not that I’d have dared). A man who was photographing them commented that I was a “turkey magnet,” which I’m not sure was meant to be flattering, but I decided to take it as a compliment. (Here’s another short video of them walking around. Listen for the gobble.)

Later, a family of deer came grazing through the meadow, and one of the curious little fawns went up to check out the turkeys. The two were about the same size, and I expected the turkeys to hurry off; instead, one of them went right up to the fawn, as if to say, “Off you go; this is my territory.” The fawn looked surprised, and a little hurt, then took off running. The turkey went back to foraging. I captured part of their standoff in this photo:

I loved reading this article about turkeys, which has all sorts of wonderful details about their social nature. Did you know for example, that turkeys like to eat breakfast and dinner together as a family? That they like to listen to music? And that, after trust has been established, they love to be petted and will even make a sound similar to a cat’s purring? Read this piece for all the reasons we should celebrate turkeys this Thanksgiving — in the wild, and not on our plates.

Get your ReadVeg stickers

By John Yunker,

We printed up a whole bunch of ReadVeg stickers to help support Portland’s Northwest VegFest. While there’s a lot of wonderful and important nonfiction about animals, the environment, and other reasons to be veg, we especially love discovering great fiction that tackles these issues, and we decided that these stickers are a great way to get the word out about eco-fiction and veg lit.

Check out our Veg Lit page for great stories that are redefining what it means to be a vegan or vegetarian. (In these novels, vegans are mainstream characters, not fringe characters.)

For example, in Falling Into Green, the main character is an eco-psychologist who believes a vegan diet helps the planet. And in The Dragon Keeper, the main character is a zoologist who does not believe in eating animals.

We also publish a young adult trilogy, and the first two books are currently available: Out of Breath and The Ghost Runner. In these books, not only is the main character vegan, but even the books’ paranormal characters are headed in that direction.

Whether you’re part of an organization or just a veg reader yourself, we’d love to send you a few stickers! All you need to do is send us a self-addressed stamped envelope (address below), and we’ll mail them to you.

Ashland Creek Press

2305 Ashland Street, Suite C417

Ashland, OR 97520