DEAR JOAN: I think I can solve the question from S.E.M. in last week's column about large birds flying in formation. I have frequently seen the birds described flying in clusters over East Contra Costa County. They are larger and fly higher than sea gulls or pelicans. The circles they turn are wide and lazy because they are probably catching thermals to get higher. I believe they are sandhill cranes.
Although I associate sandhill cranes with my childhood in Nebraska, California is actually part of their range and they can often be seen in an area of fields on the west side of Interstate 5 between Stockton and Elk Grove.
DEAR JANE: Great suggestion. I don't know if the sandhill cranes get out toward Morgan Hill, and I don't really think of them as being predominantly white, but it's a good idea to check it out.
The area you mentioned is the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve and White Slough Wildlife Area, near Interstate 5 and Highway 12. Now is a great time to visit. For details, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/er/region3/woodbridge.html.
DEAR JOAN: I just read the letter from Shonna in Lafayette about the feral kitten she rescued. What a great gal to help this poor kitten. I work with a rescue group and I have a couple of suggestions that you missed.
A great way to help them use the litter box is a product called Cat Attract. I use it with my foster kittens. I don't know what's in it, but boy does it work. You can get it at any of the pet stores. It is kind of expensive so I sprinkle it on top of regular litter. It has never failed me.
Also, Shonna should call the local feral rescue group. They will come out and trap the kitten, spay or neuter it, give the shots, test for leukemia and then return it to Shonna. That way, no making more babies. I hope this helps. I must say I never had a cat that didn't drink from a bowl, so I can't help there but as you said the kitten is obviously getting water somewhere. Feral kittens and cats are very smart.
Thank you, Shonna, for helping this baby. I am sure it will bring you years of pleasure.
DEAR RUBY: Thanks for the additional advice. Someone had recommended Cat Attract for the ailing cat that was missing the litter box, but I'd completely forgot about it. There are lots of rescue groups out there, so if anyone would like a list, send me an email or a self-addressed stamped envelope and I'll be happy to share. We'll also be posting them online in the near future.
A paws pause
Many of you, I know, will be headed out in search of those holiday bargains before the turkey even starts to digest. So if you're one of the folks racing around on Black Friday -- or even if you aren't -- why not take a "Black Fur-day" break.
Tony LaRussa's Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek and the Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton are offering special deals on black cats Friday and this weekend.
Pairs of kittens six months and younger are available for one adoption fee at ARF, noon to 7 p.m. Nov. 23.
At VHS, all black or mostly black cats will go home fee-free, noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 23, and fees are discounted on all other cats.
Please keep an eye out for a black-and-white cat named Jeremy, missing from the Mountain Gateway area in Oakland. His family is lonely for him. To see his picture, go to www.pinterest.com/gardenjoan.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.