When representatives from the Ojai Raptor Center (ORC) arrived at Meher Mount on August 15, 2019, to release an American Kestrel and a Red-Tailed Hawk, Jaclyn DeSantis, wildlife rehabilitator and ORC supervisor, warned all of us to have our cameras ready.
Her 11 years of experience in doing bird releases taught her that these gorgeous creatures take their chance at freedom very seriously. “This will be over in ten seconds once I open the box,” she said, “so don’t anybody blink.”
Just after dawn this morning – as with most mornings – three or four California quail coveys drink at the pond, followed by hordes of Dark-Eyed Juncos, three different species of Goldfinch, and several Spotted Towhees. All are gathered for their morning ablutions and chatter fest.
This morning there is a special guest among the avian visitors. As a cool mist envelops the top of Sulphur Mountain, there is a rarely seen Hooded Oriole, the latest addition to the Meher Mount bird family. He repeatedly makes his appearance at the Hummingbird feeders to the delight of onlookers. The Oriole balances precariously on the feeder rim while sipping the sweet nectar with his long slender beak.