Botulism outbreak at Tule Lake made worse by drought

August 31st, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

With drought reducing the amount of water available to migratory birds, we saw this coming. Thousands of birds have died of avian botulism at Tule Lake, a situation made worse by dry habitat areas. With so little water going to the areas around the lake, birds are congregating in the lake, which makes it much easier for the disease to spread.


Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Water issues

Birds are warning us about climate change

August 27th, 2014 · by Brigid McCormack


Back in the spring of 2010, as oil began pouring from a damaged undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico, the news media searched for stories that could illustrate the environmental damage for the American public. Just a few days into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, such a story ran, announcing the discovery and subsequent rescue of the spill’s first oiled bird, a Northern Gannet. That the discovery of the first oiled bird made national headlines shouldn’t come as a surprise. Any Google image search for “oil spill” will show you that photographs of dead and dying birds have told the story of virtually every oil catastrophe in recent history.

The reason for this is two-fold: First, as perhaps the only form of wildlife that nearly everyone sees every day, birds represent a very real connection between people and the natural world. And second, because of their sensitivity and ubiquity, birds are a particularly good indicator of the health of our environment.

Oil spill? Toxic river? Disease? Lack of food? Birds don’t speak human language, so they will usually tell us something is wrong in a very simple way: by dying, in large numbers.

While there would hardly seem to be a more absolute way of communicating with us, on occasion the birds go one step further: they will just disappear. One day they’re there; the next they’re gone.

This is how the birds will tell us about climate change.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Climate Change · Global Warming · Pollution


August 26th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost



Categories: Audubon California · Birding

Ask an Auduboner: what makes a good beach docent?

August 25th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

Sign-up to receive volunteer opportunities here.


Categories: Audubon Chapters · Audubon Watchlist · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Bird videos · Western Snowy Plover

Forest Service Old-Growth Timber Sale in Tongass

August 22nd, 2014 · by Beth Peluso

Tongass old-growth by Nils WarnockThe Forest Service announced it will be moving forward with the Big Thorne timber sale, the largest old-growth timber sale on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska in decades. It certainly doesn’t sound like the transition out of old growth the Forest Service has been promising for the last 4 years!


Categories: Audubon Alaska · Bird Habitat

Responding to reports of bird deaths at Ivanpah solar facility

August 20th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Like everyone else who has heard the story this week, we were pretty alarmed to hear accounts of thousands of birds bursting into flames above a new-technology solar facility at Ivanpah Valley in the Mojave Desert and we were grateful to have Renewable Energy Director Garry George front and center in the media to give Audubon’s view. But the truth is that these reports aren’t new.

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Bird conservation · Climate Change · Global Warming

Birds burned at Mojave Desert solar plant

August 18th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


While we’ve been hearing stories about birds being singed in midair by the concentrated solar rays at the BrightSource Energy facility in the Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed in the Mojave Desert, a new Associated Press story running nationally is getting a lot of attention. U.S. Fish & Wildlife investigators are sounding the alarm as the project’s operators are applying for a permit for an even larger facility. Audubon Califonia’s Garry George is quoted in the article contending that no permit should be issues until the dangers at the existing plant are fully understood. Pictured above is a USFWS photo of a warbler carcass found at the Invanpah site with burned feathers.

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Bird conservation

California drought is a dress rehearsal for climate change

August 18th, 2014 · by Brigid McCormack


With more than 80 percent of California in extreme drought, things are tough out there for birds (farmers and people). Already we’ve seen studies linking drought to reduced breeding of waterfowl and raptors. The big question that I frequently get asked is: Is this climate change?

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Brigid McCormack · Climate Change · Water issues

Audubon chapters spread the love of birds through summer programs

August 17th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Loved this article about the Santa Clara Audubon Society’s summer program for kids. This is just one example of the terrific programs for young people run by local Audubon chapters up and down the state. These folks are doing a marvelous job sparking a love of birds and nature that will last these young peoples’ entire lives.

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Nature education and activities

Fall migration will be a challenge for refuge managers

August 16th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

We’ve spoken before on the blog about the problems we might face in our Central Valley refuges this fall when a particularly large number of waterfowl will arrive to find habitat brutally degraded by the drought. Interesting article here about California Fish and Wildlife refuge managers doing their best with the few resources they have.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Water issues

Critical habitat proposed for Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo

August 14th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today advised the public that it is seeking to designate more than 540,000 acres of critical habitat for the western population of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Last year, the Service proposed listing the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, a move that Audubon California supports.

Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.

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

L.A. Times editorial: Now isn’t the time to delist the California Gnatcatcher

August 14th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Great editorial in the Los Angeles Times today regarding the recent petition to remove the California Gnatcatcher from the Endangered Species List. Audubon California opposes this delising effort for a variety of reasons. Here’s the best line from the editorial:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should not be changing wildlife policy based on a single study funded in part by the industry that stands to gain from it.


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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Endangered Species Act

Stupid bird humor

August 12th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


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Categories: stupid bird humor

Sandhill Crane Migration Starting in Alaska!

August 12th, 2014 · by Beth Peluso

Sandhill Crane at Creamer's Field IBA by Beth PelusoSandhill Cranes are calling in the skies over Alaska as they gather for fall migration. The Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival in Fairbanks at the Creamer’s Field Important Bird Area is coming up 8/22-8/24. This Smithsonian Magazine article gives a great overview of Sandhill Crane migration.

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Categories: Audubon Alaska · Important Bird Areas · Pacific Flyway · Pacific Migration

Are you eagle-maniacal?

August 12th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

Brian Doyle unleashes his inner struggle to not obsess over raptors in his funny new piece for Orion. Here is an excerpt, but reading the entire piece is highly recommended:

I have been so hawk-addled and owl-absorbed and falcon-haunted and eagle-maniacal since I was a little kid that it was a huge shock to me to discover that there were people who did not think that seeing a sparrow hawk helicoptering over an empty lot and then dropping like an anvil and o my god coming up with wriggling lunch was the coolest thing ever.

I mean, who could possibly not be awed by a tribe whose various members can see a rabbit clearly from a mile away (eagles), fly sideways through tree branches like feathered fighter jets (woodhawks), look like tiny brightly colored linebackers (kestrels, with their cool gray helmets), hunt absolutely silently on the wing (owls), fly faster than any other being on earth (falcons), and can spot a trout from fifty feet in the air, gauge piscine speed and direction, and nail the dive and light-refraction and wind-gust and trout-startle so perfectly that it snags three fish a day (our friend the osprey)? Not to mention they look cool—they are seriously large, they have muscles on their muscles, they are stone-cold efficient hunters with built-in butchery tools, and all of them have this stern I could kick your ass but I am busy look, which took me years to discover was not a general simmer of surliness but a result of the supraorbital ridge protecting their eyes.

Read the rest of the story here.

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Categories: Birding