DEAR JOAN: I was walking my dog on the berm at Pacifica Beach where there is an adjacent golf course.
A handsome bird I have never seen before was perched on a dead cypress tree, then flew to the ground where he spotted something. His chest was almost pure white.
I looked in my bird book and found four birds but not sure which one it is -- a short-tailed hawk, white-breasted hawk, white-tailed hawk or an osprey. Can you tell me what bird it is and whether it is a male or female, adult or juvenile? It was very large, maybe larger than the seagulls.
Mary Lou Froese
South San Francisco
DEAR MARY: The bird you saw was a red-tailed hawk. The white breast and the dark bands along the wings are the key identifiers.
I can't tell whether it's a male or female; my guess would be a young male.
It's a great photo.
DEAR JOAN: I was sitting in my backyard recently watching a hummingbird hovering near a fig tree and I saw a crow swoop in and grab the hummingbird with its talons. The crow then flew off with the hummingbird.
I was shocked. Did I just see what I saw? I didn't know that the crow was predatory toward other birds.
DEAR FRITZ: We usually think of birds as friendly, happy, chirping balls of fluff and feather, happy to eat worms and bird seed. It is only eagles, hawks, kites, owls and osprey that resort to such barbarous acts. Truth is, nature is a bit harsh. A number of birds eat other birds, generally picking off the breeds that are smaller than they. Crows, ravens, jays and mocking birds are known to eat smaller birds, often attacking their nests to get at the eggs and later, the babies.
Crows eat a variety of foods and are considered scavengers, but they won't turn up their bills at a hummingbird meal.
DEAR JOAN: Can you tell me where most urban bees live?
I am a renter near Lake Merritt with a small garden patch. There are not a lot of trees in my neighborhood. I like to plant a few sunflowers along with my organic vegetables to provide for the bees and I often see them when I am watering.
I recently noticed that around the corner, outside a large apartment building, a huge number of bees are busy with a large, untended clump of Algerian ivy. I know people in other neighborhoods who have beehives, but where do the rest of the bees live? News stories indicate that the U.S. bee population has been depleted by about 75 percent.
DEAR HEIDI: Not every bee lives in what we would consider a traditional hive. Honeybees have hives. The ones in the wild can be found in the hollows of trees or other cozy places. They may travel several miles to find a pollen source, but for the health of the bee and the colony, they like to keep it as close to the hive as possible.
Native bees mostly are solitary bees and they live in underground homes or, in the case of carpenter bees, in slightly rotting wood.
Bees are having a hard time these days for several different reasons. Thanks for thinking of them. We help them, they help us.
Contact Joan Morris at email@example.com or 1700 Cavallo Road, Antioch, CA 94509.