Audublog

California on fire

August 4th, 2015 · by Brigid McCormack

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As you read this, more than twenty major wildfires are raging throughout California. One of them, the Wragg Fire, blackened parts of the Audubon Bobcat Ranch Sanctuary a couple weeks ago, and is still burning parts of Napa and Solano counties. These wildfires have scorched more than 130,000 acres, about three times the five-year average for this time of year, according to state fire officials. These fires have prompted California Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency throughout our drought-ravaged state.

The fire at the Audubon Bobcat Ranch was alarming to us, because it was just last summer that another fire scorched more than half of the sanctuary’s 6,800 acres. A lot of good bird habitat was just in the process of recovering. Dozens of amazing bird species rely on California’s oak woodlands to survive, and for the last ten years, we have demonstrated at the Audubon Bobcat Ranch how these birds can thrive in a multiuse landscape, such as cattle ranching. Birds at Bobcat include American Kestrels, Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, White-tailed Kites , Lewis’ Woodpeckers, Loggerhead Shrikes, and Burrowing Owls along with Grasshopper Sparrows, Lark Sparrows and Western Meadowlarks. They all rely on the sanctuary’s beautiful blue oak woodlands, annual grasslands, and chaparral.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · drought · Water issues

Vermillion Flycatchers find nesting success

August 3rd, 2015 · by Daniela Ogden

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John Stanek a local biologist from the Southern Sierra Research Station took photos of this female Vermillion Flycatcher at the nest feeding a nestling. Researchers and birders have been very pleased that this species of special concern in California is nesting successfully on the Kern River Preserve. Two nests have been documented this year!

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Categories: Bird conservation · Birding · Kern River Preserve

Sharing Our Shores programs protect threatened shorebirds all along California coast

July 31st, 2015 · by Ariana Rickard

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Western snowy plover chicks. Photo by USFWS

Audubon California’s Sharing Our Shores program is protecting threatened shorebirds by educating the public about nesting locations on our beaches and how we can minimize disturbing parents and chicks during breeding season. Our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided an overview of how government agencies and nonprofits are working together to increase the numbers of California Least Terns and Western Snowy Plovers. [Read more →]

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Categories: Audublog · Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Bird conservation · Western Snowy Plover

10 ways to skip work and bird

July 30th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Let’s face it, we’d all rather be birding. But we don’t always know how to, you know, pull it off during the work week. Here are a few ideas:

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · stupid bird humor

Stupid bird humor week

July 27th, 2015 · by Daniela Ogden

Find #stupidbirdhumor on Twitter

Find #stupidbirdhumor on Facebook

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Categories: Bird videos · birds and culture · stupid bird humor

Birds suffer from air pollution, just like we do

July 23rd, 2015 · by Kenneth Qin

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We’ve all heard about how air pollution can threaten human health, but how does it impact birds? Over the years, there have been clues. Following Britain’s Clean Air Act of 1956, it was reported that several species of birds returned to London. In 1986, Mexico City’s air pollution levels were so severe that various news sources reported birds falling from the sky in drovesIn 2013, particulate matter from nearby forest fires shrouded Singapore so completely that locals found dead birds near their homes.

Studies have confirmed that birds, which share the air that we breathe, are afflicted by the same respiratory problems as humans when exposed to air pollution. In addition, field studies have shown that the effects of air pollution can extend to bird habitats as well, changing the landscape in subtle but important ways.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Climate Change · Conservation research · Global Warming · Pollution · State Policy

Wood ducks, mallards, and sandpipers, oh my!

July 21st, 2015 · by Daniela Ogden

Emily

On a warm day in early September, Emily James, Sales/Logistic Manager at Robbins Rice Company, whisked Audubon staff to a fallow field where they were adding water to create mudflats for shorebirds. Anxious to see the birds the “new” wetlands were supporting, Emily had been there first thing that day and listed the birds she’d already counted: “We saw wood ducks, mallards, sandpipers, greater yellowlegs, kingfishers, avocets…..”

Emily loves all the bird-friendly practices Robbins Rice growers implement, but the slow drawdown of water after rice harvest is her favorite.  “It’s truly impressive to see the huge number and of the different varieties of birds that come in.  I also like to plant hedgerows because you see progress every year, and you get to shape the landscape over time.”

It is the birds that make the work fun. Emily’s favorite is the avocet. “I love to see their changing colors throughout the year. And they are the first birds that show up in the rice fields in spring.”  [Read more →]

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Categories: Water issues · Working lands conservation · Working Waterways

I heard it through the grapevine

July 21st, 2015 · by Daniela Ogden

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Researchers from Australia National University studied how information flows in communities of birds. They discovered that birds teach their young how to eavesdrop. Rather than using this skill to gossip, like humans are inclined to, birds eavesdrop on the calls of other, predatory species. Researchers described their experiment with wild Fairy-wrens in Current Biology:

We trained individuals by broadcasting unfamiliar sounds while simultaneously presenting gliding predatory birds. Fairy-wrens in the experiment originally ignored these sounds, but most fled in response to the sounds after two days’ training. The learned response was not due to increased responsiveness in general or to sensitization following repeated exposure and was independent of sound structure. Learning can therefore help explain the taxonomic diversity of eavesdropping and the refining of behavior to suit the local community.

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From Magrath, R., Haff, T., Mclachlan, J., & Igic, B. (n.d.). Wild Birds Learn to Eavesdrop on Heterospecific Alarm Calls. Current Biology.  

(Photo by David Cook)

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Categories: Science

Op-ed: Central Valley environment has given more than its share during the drought

July 21st, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack in today’s Los Angeles Times answers those who claim that the environment has to give more to alleviate the pain of the drought by noting that it’s given plenty:

Characterizing the environment as an “interested party,” similar to agriculture — as some officials have — is a distortion. But if we go along with this characterization and try to say with a straight face that migratory birds are “users” and endangered fish are “stakeholders,” then it would be fair to conclude that the environment has given more than its share.

She notes that taking away the tiny amount of water going to birds and habitat won’t east the pain of the drought, and advocates solutions that benefit everyone: farms, communities and nature alike:

The drought is a crisis for everyone. It’s not an opportunity for those who are philosophically opposed to environmental protections to settle old scores.

(Sandhill Cranes at the Pixley National Wildlife Refuge by Anita Ritenour)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · drought · Federal Policy · Water issues

Congratulations to Bruce Schoppe, Audubon Volunteer of the Year

July 20th, 2015 · by Ariana Rickard

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Garry George, Chapter Network Director for Audubon California and Peg Olsen, Chief Conservation Officer for the National Audubon Society present Callison Award to Bruce Schoppe at the Audubon National Convention

We are proud to announce that another local California chapter leader is the recipient of the Charles H. Callison Award for Audubon Volunteer of the Year. Bruce Schoppe, President of Ventura Audubon, has been recognized for his significant contributions to bird conservation. The National Audubon Society recognizes only two people per year for this distinguished honor. Bruce’s accomplishments include protection of Western Snowy Plover and California Least Tern colonies on Ventura County beaches and Least Bell’s Vireo on the Ventura River. [Read more →]

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Categories: Audublog · Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Birding · National Audubon Society · Western Snowy Plover

Conejo Valley Audubon spreading the word about danger to birds of open-topped pipes

July 17th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Audubon California — and particularly our colleagues at the Audubon Kern River Preserve — have been spreading the word about the danger to birds from open-topped pipes for some time. We were particularly pleased recently when the Conejo Valley Audubon Society found success informing its community about the problem.

Exposed vertical pipes with open tops pose a tremendous hazard to birds and other wildlife. They are particularly hazardous for birds that either fall into these openings, or enter looking for nesting space. Once inside, birds are unable to open their wings to fly out, and the smooth sides make it impossible to climb out. Inevitably, the birds suffer a miserable, unnecessary death from starvation and exposure. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these pipes scattered around California’s open country. These death traps can take the form of vents for irrigation systems, old fence posts, chimneys, you name it. Plugging them at the top does a world of good for birds.

 

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · How to help birds · Kern River Preserve

Drought hitting Pacific Flyway birds hard

July 17th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Fascinating piece online from National Geographic about the impact that the ongoing drought is having on Pacific Flyway birds in California:

Along the 4,000-mile-long Pacific flyway—one of four main routes in North America for migrating birds—up to six million ducks, geese, and swans wing south every year to find warmth after raising young in the rich habitats of Alaska, Canada, and Siberia. They are joined by millions of shorebirds, songbirds, and seabirds, including the ultimate endurance winner, the arctic tern.

But California’s drought has dried up its wetlands. Many insects, fish, and plants are gone. As a result, some migrating birds have died or been depleted of so much energy that they have trouble reproducing. Thousands of ducks and geese, crowded onto parched rivers and marshes, are felled by botulism and cholera, which race through their feeding grounds.

(Long-billed Dowitcher by Andrew Reding)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · drought · Pacific Flyway

Record-breaking bird found at Audubon Starr Ranch

July 13th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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What may be the oldest Lesser Goldfinch ever found in the wild was discovered last week at the Audubon Starr Ranch in Orange County. We’ll let Holly Garrod, the Ranch’s ornithologist tell the story:

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Birding · Conservation research

Op-ed: climate bills are important for Lake County birds and people

July 13th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Roberta Lyons, president of Redbud Audubon in Clear Lake, pens a strong opinion piece in the Record-Bee this weekend on the need for California to take aggressive action on climate legislation. She mentions how climate is predicted to reduce the lake’s breeding populations of Western and Clark’s Grebes if we fail to take action.

The California State Senate recently approved a slate of bills that will reduce the use of fossil fuels and set ambitious targets for renewable energy use. These bills are important to California not just because of the predicted impacts of global warming on birds, but because of what air pollution is doing to the state and its environment.

Western and Clark’s Grebes rely on Clear Lake for nesting opportunities. Photo by Floyd Hayes.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Highlighting importance of open water habitat for birds in San Francisco Bay

July 9th, 2015 · by Kerry Wilcox

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Recognizing its importance to a variety of waterbirds, Audubon recently designated two large portions of San Francisco Bay as globally significant Important Bird Areas. This designation will open up new opportunities for conservation and protection of these vital habitat areas.

The designation follows several months of work reviewing bird data and GIS analysis. The Important Bird Area program is a global initiative developed by Bird Life International and administered by Audubon in the United States in an effort to identify and conserve areas that are vital to breeding, wintering, and migrating birds.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Important Bird Areas · Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary · S.F. Bay