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Tejon Christmas Bird Count in its sixth year

December 20th, 2014 · by Andrea Jones

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On December 15, Tejon Ranch Conservancy organized the sixth annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Tejon Ranch. I, along with several of my Audubon colleagues and chapter volunteers, have had the pleasure of participating in this newly established count. I have done many counts on both the East and West coasts and tend to favor the more intrepid and hard to reach counts – such as those that require a boat or some trekking. No matter the CBC, the thrill of not knowing exactly what one will find and documenting common and familiar birds as well as the odd rarity is always fun. When done a number of times, CBC’s become part of an annual ritual of camaraderie and holiday tradition.   Tejon CBC continues to be one of my favorites.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Birding · Christmas Bird Count · Conservation research · Tejon Ranch

Ten birds that every Californian should know*

December 19th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Maybe you’re new to birding, or perhaps you just want to impress your boyfriend/girlfriend by identifying that winged beast on your lawn. But if you’re going to be a Californian, at a minimum you should have some familiarity with the Golden State’s natural wonders. We did a little thinking around the office today and came up with this list of birds that every Californian should know.

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1. Brown Pelican/White Pelican

No other bird in California has a beak like a pelican, so that’s your first clue. But you should know how to tell these two apart. Obviously, one is brown and the other white, but there other tells. Brown Pelicans (left) are smaller, live near the ocean, have a lot of colors beyond brown, and dive into the water from the air. White Pelicans (white) are much larger, tend to live more inland, and don’t plummet from the sky to catch food.

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · Yellow-billed Magpie

Scrub Jay isn’t feeling the holiday spirit

December 19th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · stupid bird humor

Audubon keeps its eyes on the drought

December 19th, 2014 · by Desiree Loggins

Dry management units at Volta Wildlife Area Photo credit: Fresno Audubon Society

Dry management units at Volta Wildlife Area Photo credit: Fresno Audubon Society

Fresno Audubon Society’s President, Robert Snow, reflects on the initial results of drought impact surveying at Los Banos Wildlife Area’s wetland habitat in a cautiously hopeful tone, “Your wish is that you get to experience a flock of a thousand birds flying over your head when you do these [surveys], but I just haven’t seen that … it’s possible though that the birds just haven’t made it this far south.”

Similar observations have been noted at another location surveyed by Fresno Audubon at Volta Wildlife Area where dry patches of earth mark where wetland pools should be.  However disappointing these sights are, land managers are thankful to have an extra set of eyes watching over these at-risk ecosystems. Understanding how birds respond to drought stress on their refuges will provide real-time insight on how to protect Pacific Flyway migrants looking to rest and forage.

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Categories: Audubon Chapters

Meet our new Chapter Network Managers

December 19th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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We are happy to announce the creation of three brand new positions at Audubon California. Travis Abeyta, Desiree Loggins, and Ariana Rickard will be Chapter Network Managers. These kind folks will be there to help Audubon California work with chapters to make all of our efforts for conservation bigger and better. Here’s a little about them: [Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters

Looking back at 2014, a great year for birds

December 17th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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Categories: Audubon California

Good News for Bristol Bay, Alaska

December 16th, 2014 · by Beth Peluso

Emperor Geese by F. Deines, US Fish & Wildlife ServiceFWSObama’s gift to Bristol Bay: “no oil and gas development” offshore, protecting the world’s biggest wild sockeye salmon run! Those salmon in turn help support the millions of seabirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds that rely on the region for migration staging, breeding, and overwintering.

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Categories: Arctic · Audubon Alaska · Bird Habitat · Pacific Flyway · seabirds

Allen’s Hummingbird named Audubon California’s 2014 Bird of the Year

December 15th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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One of California’s most beloved birds today was named the 2014 Audubon California Bird of the Year. The Allen’s Hummingbird – which lives exclusively along the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Oregon – received the designation after totaling nearly 30 percent of votes cast during an online poll this fall.

The Allen’s Hummingbird migrates between wintering grounds in Mexico and breeding ground in California and southern Oregon, though some birds will stay in the Golden State year-round. The Allen’s Hummingbird prefers coastal areas with trees and shrubs, and is commonly seen taking nectar from flowers. It is also a popular visitor to backyard feeders.

“Every one of the nominated birds is beloved by Californians, but I’m not surprised to see the Allen’s Hummingbird come out on top,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “Everybody loves hummingbirds. It’s so small and delicate, but also remarkably hardy.”

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding

Audubon network helps save Marbled Murrelets in California

December 15th, 2014 · by Anna Weinstein

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The outlook is brighter today for the critically endangered central coast population of marbled murrelet, thanks in large part to advocacy by the Audubon network. In the past year, California State Parks- the agency responsible for protecting most of this population’s nesting habitat- has put in place strong on the ground measures to protect nesting areas and we expect to see improvement in the population over the coming few years.

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Categories: seabirds · Uncategorized

Could global warming research inspire a new wave of green birding?

December 12th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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While no one is going to say that people looking at birds are a remotely significant source of the global greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, there is a growing number of birders who are exploring less carbon-reliant ways to enjoy the wonders of nature. After all, they folks might say, if we’re going to talk about the threat to birds from global warming, and ask lawmakers to take action, birders should at least do their part. The idea of green birding is nothing new, but as Audubon is talking more about the impacts of global warming on birds, some say that it’s time to focus more attention on the practice.

One of these people is Martin Byhower, a past president and current board member of the Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society in Los Angeles County. Back in 2006, Byhower founded a Green Birdathon for his chapter. The event worked in every way like every other birdathon fundraiser (people are asked to pledge a certain amount of money to the chapter for every species identified during a set period of time), with one exception: the birding group can’t use any motor-powered vehicle other than public transportation.

“I’d love to travel the world and see 10,000 species, but that would leave a huge carbon footprint,” Byhower says. “That’s probably not something that people who care about birds should do.”

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Climate Change · Conservation research · Global Warming

Last day to vote for 2014 Bird of the Year

December 12th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

This is the final day to vote for the 2014 Bird of the Year. We’ve got some great nominees this time around. And if you’ve already voted, remember that you can vote as many times as you like. Don’t let your bird down.

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding

A day at Ivanpah

December 12th, 2014 · by Garry George

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I was as shocked as everybody else when news got out this summer about the number of birds being killed at the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System in the Mojave Desert. All of us at Audubon California were alarmed at reports of “streamers,” birds literally set afire in midair from the intense heat generated by this new solar technology. Earlier this month, I got a chance to visit the facility firsthand at the invitation of the operator, NRG Energy.

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Climate Change

State drought is the worst in 1,200 years

December 8th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

New study says the current California drought is the worst in 1,200 years.

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Categories: Water issues

Bird enthusiasts across California ready for annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count

December 8th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Californians from all walks of life will take to the outdoors this holiday season to participate in the 115th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running wildlife census in the world. Between Dec. 14, 2014 and Jan. 5, 2015, thousands of Californians will transform into volunteer scientists to assess the size of bird populations in local communities throughout the state. The data from these counts will be compiled with others from around the nation and beyond, and will ultimately help Audubon track the progress of imperiled species and gauge the impact of environmental threats to birds and habitat.

“This is the time of year when bird enthusiasts gather together to do what they enjoy the most, all the while making a tremendous contribution to science,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “These dedicated volunteers have enabled us to learn fascinating things about the impact on birds from climate, drought, habitat loss, and development, among other things.”

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Christmas Bird Count · Climate Change · Global Warming

Lead from ammo continues to be a major problem for condors

December 5th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

A new study out of UC Davis indicates that poisoning from spent lead ammunition continues to be a significant problem for California Condors. Just this week, the California Fish and Game Commission moved forward on a timeline for implementing Assembly Bill 711, which will require the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting throughout California beginning in 2019.

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Categories: Audubon California · California Condor · Endangered Species Act · Lead ammunition