This Best of Bogue column originally was published Dec. 25, 1998.

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.

"But why?" they asked.

"Because, " he said. "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

Newman Bogue

Dear Gary: Yesterday, when I opened our front door to the frosty morning, I found a tiny dead baby woodpecker on the doorstep. It was unmarred; perfect down to the tiny red feathers on its head. It seemed as if he had come to us seeking warmth and food, and we failed him. It puzzles me that there would be baby birds at this time of year. Is this usual?

Gianna

San Ramon

DEAR GIANNA: I suspect you're calling it a "baby" because it is so tiny, and a "woodpecker" because of its long beak. I can't imagine a baby bird right now. I'll bet you found a tiny male Anna's hummingbird on your doorstep.

Hummers are hypothermic. They stop moving, their body temperature drops dangerously low and they sometimes keel over when the days and nights get as cold as they have recently.

These little guys burn up a lot of energy and have huge appetites to replace it. When cold slows them, they can get too weak to fly and die of exposure.


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Your feeder can freeze in this cold. Hummers need to eat early to jump-start their day. Frozen feeders make that impossible. On freezing nights, take the feeder inside to stay warm and put it back out in the morning before the sun comes up. That way you and your hummers can enjoy your morning "tea" together.

Holiday dog treats

Here are some quick treats from "The Old Farmer's Almanac Traditional Holiday Recipes" that you can make today and keep on hand to pass out to your family dog, instead of table scraps.

Moxie's Favorites

Take 3½ cups whole-wheat flour; 3 cups rolled oats; ½ cup powdered milk; ½ cup bacon grease; 2 teaspoons cod-liver oil; two eggs; 1½ cups instant beef, chicken bouillon or chicken stock.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients into a sticky dough. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a rack and store in a plastic bag. Makes about 30.

Holiday pet safety

The Contra Costa Humane Society wants to remind you that the holiday season poses special risks to animals. Please help make the holidays merry and safe for your family pets by following these tips:

  • Holiday decorations can hurt pets. Keep tinsel, yarn and glass ornaments out of reach. Never put ribbon around an animal's neck, or let it play with plastic or foil wrappings. Cover or tack down electrical cords.

  • Keep your pets on their regular diets. Holiday treats, such as chocolate or poultry bones, can be harmful or toxic.

  • Many plants, such as mistletoe and holly, are poisonous to cats, dogs and birds, and poinsettias can make them ill. Keep them out of your pets' reach.

  • Please keep your animals safely confined while holiday visitors come and go. They can escape unnoticed through a door or gate that is carelessly left open. Dogs and cats should wear clearly-printed, accurate ID tags on their collars.

    Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.