Speak up for eagles in Sacramento, July 22

July 21st, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


America’s Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles need your voice. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will meet with the public on July 22 in Sacramento to discuss its proposal to issue a permit that would allow wind companies to kill Golden Eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act – and we hope you can attend. Just last year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approved a new rule allowing wind power operators to get permits to kill eagles for up to 30 years. Audubon vehemently opposes this 30-year permit for reasons detailed below. But wind power isn’t the only threat to the birds, and this is your opportunity to speak up for two of North America’s most inspiring species.

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Bird conservation · Wind power

Bald Eagles expanding their range on So. Cal. islands

July 20th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Great news out of Southern California that a pair of nesting Bald Eagles have been spotted on San Clemente Island, indicating that the great birds are expanding their range among the Channel Islands. It wasn’t long ago that the Bald Eagles struggled to survive on these islands, as poisoning from DDT brought breeding to a halt.


Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat

Help birds avoid window collisions

July 18th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Categories: Audubon at Home · National Audubon Society

Yellow-headed Blackbird cinemagraph

July 18th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Original video clip courtesy the USFWS.


Categories: Audubon California · Bird videos · Video

Maybe Aldrin dropped a french fry

July 17th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

In honor of the upcoming 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, we’re sharing this previously unseen photo from the mission.



Categories: Audubon California · stupid bird humor

Condor chick hatches in Utah

July 17th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Great news today out of Utah that a California Condor chick has hatched in Utah for the first time since the endangered birds were reintroduced in the state in 1996. Researchers had suspected the chick had hatched but didn’t have verification until now. (photo of female parent courtesy the National Park Service)


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

McCormack: Bond needs to include water for birds and habitat

July 16th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack argues in today’s Capitol Weekly that any water bond approved by the legislature for the November ballot must include resources for birds and habitat:

Every serious bond proposal to emerge from negotiations in the legislature accepts California’s responsibility to provide water to these refuges, as well as the need to fund watershed protection and habitat restoration throughout the state. This represents only a small fraction of the cost of the bond, but will produce long-lasting ecological benefits and will safeguard prior public investments.

Any long-term plan for water use – that is to say, any water bond – that fails to address the future needs of birds and habitat should be considered a failure. This will not only be because of the ecological destruction that will ensue, but also because of the failed opportunity to create a comprehensive plan to provide for California’s future water use.

(photo of ducks at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge courtesy USFWS)


Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Brigid McCormack · Pacific Flyway · Water issues

Another loss for the lead lobby

July 13th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

The New York Times editorial board takes note of yet another loss for those who will argue that lead from ammunition in our environment is just fine:

So much for another hard workweek in the Senate. The one accomplishment was the unintended protection of the E.P.A.’s authority over lead. Now the agency should protect the nation’s wildlife by finally banning lead ammunition and sinkers from the land.


Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Lead ammunition · Pollution

Do birds rely on experience when building nests?

July 10th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


A paper published by researchers at The University of Edinburgh shows that birds rely on experience when building nests. It had long been thought that proper nest-building was passed down genetically, but this new research shows that birds have physical cognition of materials. The group tested zebra finches by giving them two types of string to build nests with. From the paper, “after building a complete nest with either [stiff or flexible] string type, however, all birds increased their preference for stiff string.”

Source: Bailey, ID, Morgan, KV, Bertin, M, Meddle, SL & Healy, SD 2014. ‘Physical cognition: birds learn the structural efficacy of nest material’ Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, vol 281, no. 1784, pp. 20133225., 10.1098/rspb.2013.3225.

Photo of Marsh Wren feeding chicks by Alan Vernon.


Categories: Science

Aramburu Island Restoration film by FWS Pacific South West

July 9th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


Categories: Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary

Western Scrub-Jay, now 3x more awesome?

July 9th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


J.B.S. Haldane was a famous Scottish turned naturalized Indian biologist and mathematician who loved going barefoot and studying genetics, particularly evolution in animals. What does this Mr. Haldane have to do with the colorful Western Scrub-Jay? Researchers discovered that there are three distinct sub-species of Western Scrub-Jay. They used the Haldane rule which states that, if species hybrids of one sex only are inviable or sterile, the afflicted sex is much more likely to be heterogametic (XY) than homogametic (XX). In plain terms this refers to dominance in genes. A team led by Occidental’s John E. McCormack discovered the following populations have unique genetics: A. californica (Pacific Slope); A. woodhouseii (Interior US plus Edwards Plateau plus Northern Mexico); A. sumichrasti (Southern Mexico).

What, if any, impact this discovery has on conservation remains to be seen.

Source: Gowen, Fiona C; Maley, James M; Cicero, Carla; Peterson, A Townsend; Faircloth, Brant C; Warr, T Caleb; and McCormack, John E. Speciation in Western Scrub-Jays, Haldane’s rule, and genetic clines in secondary contact, BMC Evolutionary Biology 2014, 14:135.

Photo by Maggie Smith.



Categories: Audubon Center at Debs Park · Bird Habitat · Science

Huge numbers of Sooty Shearwaters in Monterey Bay

July 9th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

We’ve been seeing reports all week of huge numbers of Sooty Shearwaters off California. Check out this amazing video from Monterey Bay.

Lots of people don’t believe us when we say that the Sooty Shearwater is California’s most numerous bird. This video might change their mind. This video is courtesy the Monterey Bay Whale Watch.


Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Pacific Flyway

Fire at the Audubon Bobcat Ranch

July 8th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Over the holiday weekend, a brush fire hit the Audubon Bobcat Ranch, located just outside of Winters. The blaze burned through 3,500 of the sanctuary’s 6,800 acres. No Audubon staff members were injured in the fire, nor were any structures damaged. Audubon California currently leases the property for grazing; none of the livestock on the property was harmed.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Landowner Stewardship · Working lands conservation

Stupid bird humor

July 7th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden



For more information, please read this Washington Post article.

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Categories: Science · seabirds · stupid bird humor

California wind energy project set to receive fed permit allowing eagle deaths

July 7th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


A California wind energy facility will be the first in the United States to operate under a new federal permit allowing it to avoid penalties and prosecution in the event of accidental deaths of Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced last week. The 3,500-acre Shiloh IV Wind Project near Rio Vista has been slated to receive a five-year permit, details of which will not be available for about 30 days.

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Bird conservation · Pacific Flyway