More partners = more birds

November 26th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


This past year, Audubon supported staff time for three Resource Conservation Districts (RCD) with funding Audubon secured from four public grants, and two private foundation grants. RCDs are California’s only grassroots conservation delivery system. Each RCD identifies its community’s greatest conservation problems, and guides landowners toward voluntary, and often innovative, solutions. There are 98 Districts throughout California – each covering a different geographic territory.


Audubon funded and managed six contracts with RCDs this past year, providing a total of $56,600 to carry out installation and maintenance of ten habitat restoration projects in three counties.  In Merced County, in partnership with the Center for Land-based Learning, we are supporting the development of a volunteer training program, led by the local RCD, which educates high school students and involves them in work days on restoration sites.  Audubon staff has also been working closely with Colusa County RCD staff to ensure that they have the technical skills, professional contacts, and equipment to carry out restoration work. By providing this training and funding, we are building the capacity of these RCDs to carry out their own wildlife habitat projects going forward. The Yocha Dehe Community Fund and Banrock Trust provided funding to support this capacity-building and partnership effort.

Top photo of Audubon, Yolo County RCD, and Putah Creek Council staff at a mile-long slough-side planting carried out together in Yolo County.

Lower photo of Brandon Baker of Yolo County RCD haying a newly planted hedgerow.


Categories: Working lands conservation · Working Waterways

Your handy guide to talking about birds and global warming this holiday

November 24th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost



Categories: Audubon California · Climate Change · Global Warming · National Audubon Society

Egging on Sea Duck Recovery: Scientists testing new method for boosting waterbird populations in Richardson Bay

November 24th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


In an effort to find new ways to support the spectacular waterbirds of San Francisco Bay, ecologists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are working with the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary to test out a potentially new way to provide food for declining Surf Scoters, a large sea duck that was once much more common here.

“San Francisco Bay is a vital migratory stop for a wide variety of waterbirds, and anything we can do to support these birds is invaluable,” said Jordan Wellwood, director of the Audubon Center & Sanctuary. “We’re greatly pleased to partner with the USGS on this research that will ultimately benefit the work that we do for waterbirds.”

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

BLM rejects controversial solar project in Mojave Desert

November 22nd, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management this week rejected an application for a controversial solar project in the Mojave Desert’s Silurian Valley. Conservation groups, including Audubon California, had raised concerns over the project because it was outside established development areas and included pristine habitat areas. In the end, the BLM found these arguments persuasive:

Jim Kenna, the BLM’s California director, made the decision, finding that Iberdrola Renewables’ proposal would have industrialized 24 square miles of “a largely undisturbed valley that supports wildlife, an important piece of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and recreational and scenic values.”

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Bird Habitat

Bird update from the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary

November 21st, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Here’s another fun round-up of bird seen at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary in Orange County, courtesy Ornithologist Holly Garrod:

This week, while enjoying a nice morning at the cabin, I had a Red-shouldered Hawk visit the bird bath and perch less than 50 feet from me! He took a drink, we stared each other down for 30 seconds and then he was gone. While Red-shouldered Hawks can be seen flying around the ranch, it was incredible seeing one so close. Other raptors that have been active around the ranch include 3 different species of owl. Be sure to listen for the harsh screech of Barn Owls, the gentle hoots of Great Horned Owls and the trill like hoots of Western Screech Owls after dusk.

This weeks bird of the week is…..

Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana). No wonder they’re the bringer of happiness, these blue gems always brighten my day. They’re easily distinguished by their blue color and reddish breast. The females tend to have a more brown wash and will always have an eye ring where the males will not. These birds hang out year round on Starr Ranch and in the summer will nest in cavities or bird houses. I’ve seen them around the ranch perched pretty high up in the Eucalyptus trees making their ‘kew’ calls. Look at the photo above for an idea of an older female bluebird (photo taken by me during last weeks MoSI banding effort).

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · Starr Ranch Sanctuary

Snow Geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

November 21st, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack shot this quick video of Snow Geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge last weekend. Enjoy:


Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Birding

Feinstein pulled the plug on secret drought bill

November 20th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden

Good news! The terrible drought bill that Senator Feinstein was drafting in secret has been dropped. Thank you to everyone who sent an action alert — she heard you.


Categories: Federal Policy · Water issues

2014 Bird of the Year trailer

November 20th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden



Categories: Bird videos

Forest Service Throwing Good Money After Bad in Tongass in Alaska

November 18th, 2014 · by Beth Peluso

Tongass National Forest

A new report shows the Forest Service’s Tongass National Forest budget isn’t living up the agency’s 2010 promise to transition out of old-growth logging in the nation’s largest national forest. The Tongass, in Southeast Alaska, is part of the largest swath of temperate rainforest remaining in the world. Instead of the promised transition, the Forest Service released the largest old-growth timber sale in a decade earlier this year.


Categories: Audubon Alaska · Bird Habitat · Federal Policy

Stupid bird humor

November 14th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


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Categories: stupid bird humor

The eagle and the crane

November 14th, 2014 · by Brigid McCormack



The landmark climate change agreement announced Wednesday between the United States and China represents an incredible opportunity to move the world toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and reduce some of the harsher effects that scientists have been predicting for years. Many observers believe that this agreement between the No. 1 and No. 2 greatest producers of greenhouse gas emissions will inspire other countries to make similar commitments.

When I learned of this agreement, I couldn’t help but be struck by the image of the eagle and the crane. We all know the importance of the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle as national symbols of our country. Likewise, the crane has deep significance in Chinese mythology and iconography.

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Conservation research · Global Warming

The challenges of saving the Salton Sea

November 12th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Great article in the New York Times about the many challenges of saving the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is considered by Audubon to be an Important Bird Area of Global Significance, and a major migratory stopping point for birds along the Pacific Flyway. (photo of American White Pelicans at the Salton Sea by Charles Chandler)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Salton Sea · Water issues

Audubon California secures water for Pacific Flyway’s migrating birds

November 10th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


Thousands of wintering migratory birds will have more water and habitat thanks to the advocacy of Audubon California and its partners. Responding to the urging of a coalition of bird and conservation groups, USDA-NRCS created the winter waterfowl initiative. This voluntary program will provide financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to agricultural producers who are willing to follow precise water management guidelines, developed and tested by Audubon California and Point Blue, on flooded agricultural fields. This will help prevent disease and starvation of migratory birds like Northern Pintails, Snow Geese, and Least Sandpiper who are crowding into limited wetlands in a severe drought year.

Snow Geese in flight over Sacramento Wildlife Refuge by George Lamson

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Categories: fall migration · Federal Policy · Pacific Flyway · Pacific Migration · Water issues · Working lands conservation

Cool wintering birds from the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary

November 10th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


We just got this update from ornithologist and educator Holly M. Garrod, reporting from the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary in Orange County:

This week proved to be very exciting bird-wise. The other day I watched a Merlin fly right through the canyon! (And no, not the wizard). A Merlin is a small falcon-like bird that often spends winter down in Southern California. And speaking of wintering birds…

This week the focal bird species is the Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber)! They have just finished their migration and will be spending their winter here. Sapsuckers look a bit different than the familiar Acorn Woodpecker. Their head and breast is entirely red (hence the name). They have a dark back, yellow belly and are easily recognized by a white vertical stripe running up their side. I’ve been hearing their ‘waah’ call around the oaks. Be sure to keep an eye out for them near the persimmon tree, it’s one of their favorite spots to hang out. When sapsuckers aren’t munching on fruit, they make wells in the tree where sap pools and they can drink it. Interestingly, several hummingbird species have been observed following Red-breasted Sapsuckers and making use of their sap wells as a food source. (photo above of a red-breasted Sapsucker with sap wells, by Greg Gillson)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Birding · Starr Ranch Sanctuary

USGS: Habitat loss and development will impact birds as much as climate change

November 8th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Fascinating (read: scary) new study from the U.S. Geological Survey. ”Changing landscape patterns such as deforestation and urban growth are likely to have at least as large of an impact on future bird ranges as climate change for many species.”

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Climate Change · Conservation research · Global Warming