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Amazing paper sculptures of birds by artist Johan Scherft

January 29th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Hat tip to Juxtapose Magazine for calling our attention to the amazing paper bird sculptures by artist Johan Scherft.

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Categories: birds and culture

Legislature needs to protect birds from non-oil spills, as well

January 29th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Jordan Wellwood, director of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Tiburon, writes in today’s San Francisco Chronicle that we’re going to see more problems with “mystery goo” spills unless the State Legislature acts to fund state agencies to respond to non-oil spills in the same way that they respond to oil spills:

California’s marine oil spill response system is one of the best in the world. But unfortunately, hundreds of non-oil incidents like this happen every year in the state, including everything from milk to algae to vegetable oil, to “mystery goo” that evades identification. Without funding and direction to the spill prevention office to respond, California remains unprepared for such spills, leaving a frightening gap in our protections for people and wildlife.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Pollution · Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary · S.F. Bay · seabirds

Meet the birding stars of the 2015 Waterbird Festival

January 28th, 2015 · by Daniela Ogden

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There is still space in a couple of the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary Waterbird Festival sessions. Acclaimed birder Peter Pyle, pictured above, will be leading Gull & Waterbird Identification Workshop. Peter works as a biologist for The Institute for Bird Populations. Peter is also a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Peter has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed papers, four books, and an on-line monograph of the birds of Hawaii. Among bird banders he is best known for his Identification Guide to North American Birds, Parts 1 and 2, which includes detailed criteria for ageing and sexing all North American birds in the hand and the field. In 2011 he had the good fortune of describing a new bird species, Bryan’s Shearwater, and naming it after his grandfather. [Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary · S.F. Bay

New scientific paper undercuts research behind Coastal California Gnatcatcher delisting effort

January 28th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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A new paper in the latest edition of the scientific journal of the American Ornithologist Union questions the validity of research behind the latest effort to remove the Coastal California Gnatcatcher from the Endangered Species List. Based on research that argues that the Coastal California Gnatcatcher is not a valid subspecies, a group of Southern California developers filed a delisting petition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service suggesting that the species is plentiful in Baja, Mexico. Audubon California immediately joined a number of other conservation groups and scientists in asserting that the new study wasn’t nearly enough to overturn a hundred years of research on the species, and called for the Service to reject the petition.

The new paper, authored by John E. McCormack and James M. Maley, challenges the validity of the earlier study, arguing that the “genetic markers they chose were not well suited to the question of distinctness and how they overinterpreted negative results in their genetic and ecological analyses.” Further, the authors of the new paper found that a new analysis of the genetic data actually “shows significant differentiation in the Coastal California Gnatcatchers.”

Tell the USFWS to reject this latest effort to delist the Coastal California Gnatcatcher.

(photo by Dinuk Magammana)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Endangered Species Act

Help defend the Coastal California Gnatcatcher

January 27th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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The latest attempt by some Southern California developers to have the Coastal California Gnatcatcher removed from protections under the Endangered Species Act is pretty outrageous – they claim the bird doesn’t even exist!

The delisting petition sponsored by these developers relies on a single recent study claiming that the Coastal California Gnatcatcher is not a genetically unique subspecies. But most avian experts say that the study isn’t nearly enough to overturn than a hundred years’ worth of research to the contrary. Moreover, they point out that the new study cherry picks genetic data and downplays significant visible differences and this study has yet to be independently verified.

Let’s stop this ridiculous delisting effort in its tracks. You can help by sending an email to the U.S. Dept. of Interior now. Speak up and help us save this bird from extinction.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Endangered Species Act

‘I am doing what I can’

January 26th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest. All the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest to the edge of a lake, where they all stood feeling discouraged and powerless. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · Global Warming

President Obama Recommends Permanent Protection for Arctic Refuge

January 26th, 2015 · by Beth Peluso

Snow_Geese_Arctic_refuge_CCP_thanks_2_web-size_with_hashtagSee President Obama announce his historic recommendation for permanent protection for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge! This is the first time any administration has publicly supported protection for the critical coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. The announcement bolstered the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the refuge. While only Congress can designate Wilderness, this is the biggest step in that direction in decades and deserves some celebration, and a big thank you!

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Categories: Arctic · Audubon Alaska · Bird Habitat

This is your brain on birds

January 26th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Categories: Audubon California · stupid bird humor

Altacal Audubon’s neighborhood habitat program gives birds threatened by global warming a chance

January 22nd, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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When the Altacal Audubon Society decided to launch its Neighborhood Habitat Certification Program in 2014, the National Audubon Society was still months away from releasing its groundbreaking study predicting the effects of global warming on birds. Altacal’s goal had always been to create habitat for birds and conserve water, and that was certainly important enough.

But when the report came out highlighting the risk that 170 California species were in danger of going extinct in the coming decades, Altacal’s project gained even more urgency as a much-needed way for the community to help birds weather the challenges of global warming.

“Climate is at the forefront of our minds,” said Melinda Teves, who runs the new program for the chapter.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Bird Habitat · Climate Change · Global Warming

We have failed the waterbirds of San Francisco Bay*

January 22nd, 2015 · by jwellwood

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I was horrified to learn last week that waterbirds were showing up dead or dying in San Francisco Bay contaminated by a mysterious sticky substance. And this problem persists even now. At the time, I was even more horrified when I discovered that most of these birds are being found in an area that we’ve recently identified as being one of the three most important regions in the bay for wintering waterbirds.

Thousands of Surf Scoters, Greater/Lesser Scaup, and other waterbirds use the area near Hayward and the San Leandro Marina, specifically, every winter because it provides the food resources and relative calm that they need in order to build strength and stamina for their migration to breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska. This isn’t just a random corner of the bay. It’s Ground Zero for waterbird feeding and staging during the winter months.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Pollution · Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary · S.F. Bay · seabirds

Brigid McCormack talks about Tricolored Blackbirds

January 21st, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack was at the Sacramento Zoo this morning to talk about the new grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service that will fund a new partnership between the agency, Audubon California and dairy farmers. Here’s a clip:

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Tricolored Blackbird · Working lands conservation

Researchers warn of mass extinction in our oceans

January 18th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

A new report published in the journal Science warns that we may be on the precipice of a mass extinctions of ocean life, including marine birds. The report does come with a measure of hope, however.

But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health. “We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · seabirds

Rare Birds in the Aleutians

January 16th, 2015 · by Beth Peluso

Shemya-bird-species_FWS-report_January2015_cover-page_web-sizeHave you ever seen Far Eastern Curlew? A Taiga Bean Goose? Shemya Island is out near the end of Alaska’s Aleutian Chain. This US Fish and Wildlife Service report hot off the presses gives a great look at the rare and regular birds that visit there, including photos!

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Categories: Audubon Alaska · Birding · Pacific Flyway

Federal support means more help for Tricolored Blackbirds

January 14th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Audubon California today received a major federal grant to help grow the population of the Tricolored Blackbird, one of California’s most imperiled species. The funding from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will support a partnership with Farm Bureau, Western United Dairymen, DairyCares, and Sustainable Conservation to work with farmers to protect birds that breed in silage fields.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Tricolored Blackbird · Working lands conservation

First big herring run in San Francisco Bay creates feeding (and birding) frenzy

January 13th, 2015 · by Anna Weinstein

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This past week marked the first big Pacific herring run of the year in San Francisco Bay. Herring is serious business for many of the birds we love, providing a rich, nourishing winter smorgasbord for hungry waterbirds on the Pacific Flyway. With climate change causing big changes in the availability of prey for waterbirds and seabirds, it’s more important than ever to protect this vital food resource. (photo above by Kerry Wilcox)

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Birding · Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary · S.F. Bay · seabirds