Last year it was the Yellow-billed Magpie that got the nod in Audubon California’s first-ever Bird of the Year vote. Which bird will win it this year? Well, that’s up to you. Voting for our second annual Bird of the Year selection is going on through Dec. 8. Cast your vote right now.Audubon California created the designation last year in an effort to raise awareness about bird conservation in California. Our Board of Directors has selected six finalists for the award. You’re free to vote for one of these, or write in your own choice. This is a conservation award. We’re particularly interested in recognizing bird species that were of significant conservation interest in 2009, but that also had a compelling story and rallied the public around it.
Here are the nominees:
California Condor: This endangered species is one of California’s truly iconic conservation stories. Early in the year, we celebrated the first successful condor birth in the wild at Pinnacles National Monument in nearly 100 years. But we were soon reminded of the difficulties the species faces when the newborn chick had to be treated for lead poisoning. Nonetheless, most of the news around the condor was good, as the state reached 100 birds in the wild this fall.
Clark’s Grebe: An Audubon Watchlist species that is getting some special attention from Audubon California in the form of a concerted effort to protect breeding sites at four northern California lakes. Local Audubon chapters are taking a lead role in the project.
Western Snowy Plover: The Pacific Coast population of the Western Snowy Plover is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Local Audubon chapters have done incredible work alongside California State Parks officials and others to protect nesting sites along the coast. This year, Audubon California helped four chapters conduct innovative Share the Shore programs that use children’s art to raise awareness about the plovers and mark their breeding sites.
Tricolored Blackbird: Nearly all of the world’s Tricolored Blackbirds reside in California, where we have seen number fall from several million to just under 400,000 in the last several decades. Audubon California is currently coordinating the efforts of a unique alliance of farmers, agricultural associations, governmental agencies, and environmental organizations whose goal is to help bring the species back to its former glory.
Great Gray Owl: Listed on the California Endangered Species List, the Great Gray Owl is one of the state’s most fascinating birds. Down to about 200 birds in California, it lives primarily in the clearings around Yosemite. Audubon California and others are currently researching ways to help the species expand its range in our state.
Sandhill Crane: Popular among birders, the Sandhill Crane has seen much of its historical habitat in California wiped out. Audubon California is working with landowners in the Modoc Plateau and the Sacramento Valley to preserve the types of wetlands and pastures that the bird prefers.