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Have you ever seen 174 bird species in 24 hours?

April 23rd, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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During last year’s Starr Ranch Birdathon, the superstar team corralled by Starr Ranch Sanctuary Manager Pete DeSimone, saw or heard 174 species in 24 hours.  Expert birders Bruce Aird (President of the Sea and Sage Audubon Chapter) and Steve Alter (Sea and Sage’s Christmas Bird Count Coordinator) played a huge part in setting that record and have agreed to accompany me again this year – and to hopefully set yet a new record.  Also joining the team will be Tom Ford-Hutchinson. Pete say’s, “the route for this year’s birdathon was meticulously planned over a round of beers on the back side of a napkin and the group has high hopes of breaking the old record but low expectations of just not failing miserably. The route brings us wildly looking for birds in the dark before venturing into the Santa Ana Mountains and finally making our way along the coast.  Many hours of scouting birds that might or might not be here in just over a weeks time has left us with the feeling that we just might do alright and raise some needed funds for Star Ranch.”

Be a part of this exciting event by making a pledge and supporting all the work that Starr does.

Here are is more about this year’s birders in their own words: [Read more →]

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Categories: Birding · Starr Ranch Sanctuary

Google honors Earth Day with cool Rufous Hummingbird doodle

April 22nd, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Google has chosen to honor Earth Day 2014 with a Google Doodle of a Rufous Hummingbird. We can hardly think of a better choice.The Rufous Hummingbird is a brilliant bird, orange in the male, orange and green in the female. When you see one, at a glance, you might say to yourself, “Oh, it’s just another hummingbird (as if there could be such a thing).” But then you realize that it’s not just any hummingbird. No, you’re seeing something unique: a Rufous Hummingbird on its way north. Savor that moment. Right now, the Rufous Hummingbirds are passing through California on their way from Central Mexico where they winter, to the Pacific Northwest and Canada where they breed. The Rufous Hummingbird has a strange migration, because it doesn’t necessarily come back the way it came. While it will go northward along the coast, it typically comes back southward through Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. So get a good look in the spring while you can. (photo by USFWS)

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Categories: Birding · spring migration

April 27: 2014 Black Oystercatcher Workshop

April 21st, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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Citizen scientist call to action!

Have you ever wondered who these intriguing shorebirds are? Why they make such a ruckus from the rocks? Here’s your opportunity to find out.

Attend the 2014 Black Oystercatcher Workshop on Sunday, April 27, from 9am-2pm at the Russian Gulch Recreation Hall. Learn something new, meet other bird aficionados, and hike to observe these birds in action.
The workshop trains volunteer citizen scientists to perform weekly nest monitoring from May through September. [Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon Chapters · Bird conservation · Black Oystercatcher · Volunteer

Tricolored Blackbird colony update

April 16th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

Thank you again for your generosity and continued interest in the threatened colony of 50,000 Tricolored Blackbirds.

Your contribution has helped delay the harvesting of the field with the Tricolored Blackbird colony until early May while negotiations continue. This should allow enough time for the colony’s young to successfully fledge and for us to reach a financial agreement.

Audubon California and heroes like you have come a long way toward saving this colony, but we still need to come to a final agreement with this landowner before we can claim success.

Our work to protect Tricolored Blackbirds around the state continues. This weekend, we’re launching a statewide Tricolored Blackbird survey with UC Davis. Expert birders will help us determine an accurate count of just how many of these rare birds remain. We encourage you to follow them as they track down colonies. We will be posting to our Instagram account (audubonca) and on Twitter (@audubonca).

Warm regards,

Meghan Hertel
Working Lands Program Director

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Categories: Tricolored Blackbird · Working lands conservation

Don’t trim trees in the spring

April 16th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Trees are full of nests in the spring, so a way better time to trim is in the fall.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat

Birders arriving in droves to see Marsh Sandpiper in Solano County

April 12th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

The rare arrival of a Marsh Sandpiper to California is big news to birders in this state and beyond. The bird, which is native to Europe and Asia, arrived here a few days ago and has attracted a ton of attention. It’s also lighting up all the birding listservs. The American Birding Association blog has more details. But also check out this great video taken yesterday by the unstoppable Keith Hansen below:

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding

Audubon California displeased by Coastal Commission’s ruling on Monterey Shores Eco-resort

April 11th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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California’s birds and wildlife suffered a huge setback today. The California Coastal Commission approved the development of a large hotel and condominium complex sited on beach and dune habitat on Monterey Bay in Sand City. The developer calls this 360-unit complex, with parking for almost 1,000 cars, the “Monterey Shores Eco-resort.”

The pacific coast population of Western Snowy Plovers, a federally threatened species, nest and raise their broods here. In fact, yesterday a three egg plover nest (seen in the photo above) was discovered and confirmed by biologists in the footprint of the proposed resort.

“The California Coastal Commission failed the public today,” said Audubon California Coastal Program Director Andrea Jones. “The process of approving this project, which has been going on for 15 years, went against the very intent of the Coastal Act by ruling in favor of the destruction of Snowy Plover and coastal dune habitat.” [Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon Chapters · Audubon Watchlist · Bird conservation · Endangered Species Act · Federal Policy · Local Policy · Western Snowy Plover

Update on Tricolored Blackbird emergency

April 11th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

Here is the latest from our Working Lands Program Director:

Thank you so much for your tremendous support and continued interest in the at-risk colony of 50,000 Tricolored Blackbirds. Here is the latest update:

We asked you to contribute toward an ambitious goal of $40,000 in 24 hours and your response astounded us! You have inspired us and you’ve demonstrated the power of our network of bird lovers and advocates.

The donations we received from you and others last week exceeded our goal, but we still don’t know how much it will ultimately cost to save this colony and here is why — as we speak, agencies are working hard to find a solution that helps this landowner overcome challenges due to this difficult drought year, but also protects this huge colony of this rare species. The funds you raised are critical to that discussion and will play an important role in saving Tricolored Blackbirds in the coming days.

While negotiations continue, you should know that you and your fellow bird heroes have made a real difference. Because of the response of this community, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders, the colony remains safe and will not be harvested pending negotiations but we’re not out of the woods yet. [Read more →]

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Categories: Tricolored Blackbird · Water issues · Working lands conservation

State drought operations plan will be painful for all — including the birds

April 10th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Great piece in today’s Sacramento Bee by Matt Weiser about the state’s operations plan for water during the drought. Short version: everyone is going to be feeling the pain. Great input by Audubon California’s Brigid McCormack highlighting the importance of water for the 19 Central Valley refuges that provide vital habitat for millions of migrating birds. (photo of the Kern National Wildlife Refuge by Linda Tanner)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Water issues

Water for refuges remains in key water bond bill

April 10th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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Following about two weeks of doubt, Audubon California has now learned that — thanks in large part to the Audubon network in California — language requiring the state to fulfill its promise to provide water for the Central Valley’s 19 wildlife refuges has survived in one of the legislatures key water bond bills. Prior to a March 25 hearing before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, we had heard of an ongoing effort to remove the requirement from Assembly Bill 1331, a move that could have jeopardized water for these vital bird habitats. Activists working through Audubon and other conservation organizations sent thousands of communications to the members of the committee, and offered great testimony at the hearing. And those efforts appear to have paid off.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Water issues

Spring migration in the city

April 10th, 2014 · by Brigid McCormack

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The sudden flash of yellow in the tree outside the Daly City BART station stopped me in my tracks.

I’d been hustling from the parking lot to catch my 8:30 train — who knows what going through my head: a meeting, a lunch, a conference call, another meeting. But all that was erased completely by what I soon ascertained was a Townsend’s Warbler hopping from branch to branch in this skeletal bit of parking lot landscaping.

The bird gave me a few seconds to marvel at it, and then blasted off. A speck against the gray sky, and then gone.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · Brigid McCormack · S.F. Bay · spring migration

San Joaquin River named America’s most endangered river

April 9th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

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California’s San Joaquin River tops the 2014 list of America’s most endangered rivers released today by American Rivers. The San Joaquin River is California’s second largest river, running 350 miles from its headwaters in the southern Sierra Nevada to its meeting with the Sacramento River in the San Francisco Bay-Delta. It is a river with a glorious past and a great future. It is an incredible California resource that deserves our support.

Audubon California supports the restoration of the San Joaquin River because it will provide water for farms and a healthy river for Central Valley communities to enjoy, as well as a place for wildlife to thrive. Audubon California has been working with a number of local chapters and other partners to build support for the San Joaquin River Restoration Project through the “I’m for the River” campaign.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · San Joaquin River

Stupid bird humor

April 7th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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Categories: stupid bird humor

April 12: Volunteer day at Kern River Preserve

April 7th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

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Kern River Preserve’s Redtailed Hawk Trail looks great with blooming bush lupine, poppies and Fay Creek is running. Come to the work party this Saturday April 12. Preserve Manager Reed will lead a hike to Fay Creek after lunch. Spring is going to be short in the Kern Valley due to the dry conditions so get out while it lasts.

When: Saturday, April 12, 8:00 am
Where: The Alexander Restoration Site on Fay Ranch Road, 1/3 mi. north of Hwy 178 in Weldon.
What: We will be planting native shrubs, grasses and trees on 24 acres of formerly cultivated floodplain along the South Fork Kern River. Our goal is to enhance habitat for a variety of wildlife species including San Emigdio Blue butterfly, Loggerhead Shrike, Summer Tanager and Southwestern Pond Turtle.
What to bring: Bring food, water, gloves; wear long sleeves & pants, work shoes or boots. The preserve will supply the tools.

Contact the Kern River Preserve Land Steward, Sean Rowe at srowe {at} audubon(.)org or (760) 378-2531 to RSVP.

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Categories: Kern River Preserve · Volunteer

Forage species poised for enhanced protection on the west coast

April 5th, 2014 · by Anna Weinstein

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Common Murre with a baby octopus, northern California.

Most of you have heard of sardine, anchovy, and herring- the small fish that sustain our coastal and pelagic seabirds and other marine wildlife. Turns out, there are many other species of “forage fish” such as squid, saury, smelt, sand lance and even octopi that can be just as important for seabirds. Federal fisheries managers with control over fishing in the vast federal waters of California, Oregon and Washington will meet next week and consider options to enhance protections for these lesser-known prey—and the Audubon network will be there to advocate on behalf of our seabirds.

[Read more →]

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Categories: seabirds · Uncategorized