Los Angeles is an amazing place for birds, but you don’t have to go up into Santa Monica Mountains for find great examples. There are all kinds of surprises right down in the middle of the urban environment.
Which brings us to one of the more fascinating events for the May 2 Bird LA Day, a massive, decentralized celebration of birds taking place throughout the greater Los Angeles area. This would be the family birding at Ervin “Magic Johnson Park in South Los Angeles from 2 to 4 p.m. This is a section of the city that probably hasn’t been thoroughly explored by area birders, and that adds to the thrill of the place.
“This is one of those nice urban gems that a lot of native birds are using,” says ornithologist Dan Cooper, who will be co-leading the event on May 2. “This is a great opportunity to observe the birds that are coming to the L.A. basin in search of habitat. There’s always something to see there.”
In the first test of legislation aimed at protecting wildlife from non-oil spills like the one that killed hundreds of birds in San Francisco Bay in January, Assembly Bill 718 today was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee by a 6-2 vote. The bill is co-authored by State Sen. Mark Leno, State Sen. Loni Hancock, and Assembly Member Bill Dodd. Audubon California is co-sponsoring the bill with San Francisco Baykeeper.
“While California has one of the best systems to respond to marine oil spills in the country, non-oil spills still fall into the cracks with regard to funding and protocols,” said Jordan Wellwood, Audubon California’s San Francisco Bay program director. “Senate Bill 718 creates clear funding mechanisms and guidelines on how we can best help birds and other wildlife during these non-oil spills like the one that killed so many waterbirds in San Francisco Bay.”
Do you want to go on a fabulous birding trip while also supporting your local Audubon chapter? Consider joining Audubon for a birdathon. Many of the Audubon chapters are hosting birdathons to raise money and educate the public about local bird species.
Recently Audubon California was alerted to the exciting news that Tricolored Blackbirds—over 400 males and even more females—descended upon San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society’s marshy pond restoration site, managed by board member and Tricolor champion, Dave Goodward. This event came as a surprise to those involved with the effort since they were not expecting to see results this season, due to the disturbing commotion that active habitat restoration requires. In this case, the birds proved assumptions wrong and settled in the dried cattail stalks at the pond’s edge. Dave is using opportunity for on the ground outreach, and has already met with multiple private landowners that have begun to notice the birds noisily foraging for nest materials around their properties. This small population, and potential colonies nearby, will be monitored with the hope that they nest successfully, and that this restoration site becomes sustainable habitat for years to come.
San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society began this Tricolored Blackbird restoration project in Newberry Springs last winter with support from Audubon California and funders who believe in the grassroots capabilities of Audubon chapters and conservation. Audubon California will continue to report details as they come. For now,check-out the San Bernardino Audubon website for information about an April 18th tour of the site , led by Dave Goodward.
As we’ve said before, Los Angeles is one of the most amazing places for birds in California, if not the country. On May 2, Angelenos will celebrate the birds of LA in a unique way – with the first Bird LA Day. The day will include more than 30 events throughout the region, all unified through social media (#birdladay). From Debs Park to downtown to the beach to the San Fernando Valley to South LA and Long Beach — there will be events for every level of birder ranging from the uninitiated to the serious and sophisticated.
Events will include birding walks, talks, tours, and other activities in virtually every corner of the county. Participating in the day are: Audubon California, Aquarium of the Pacific, Audubon Center at Debs Park, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Friends of Griffith Park, Friends of the Ballona Wetlands, The G2 Gallery, Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles Audubon Society, Theodore Payne Society, Loyola Marymount University Center for Urban Resilience, Madrona Marsh, National Park Service, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, Occidental College Moore Lab of Zoology, Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society, Pasadena Audubon Society, San Fernando Valley Audubon Society, Simon Tech High School’s Audubon YES Club, UCLA Bruin Naturalists Club, Wild Wings Backyard Nature Store, and Wild Birds Unlimited. And the list keeps growing.
There’s no cost to participate. The spotlight will be on LA’s biodiversity, not film or fashion, celebrity or TV. Just good old fashioned outdoor entertainment. If you can’t attend one of the events, you can still join the fun by connecting with Bird LA Day through social media. Get outside and let everyone know what you’re seeing.
We’ll have more information about this incredible event in the coming days. But mark your calendars now.
Leaders from three Audubon chapters (Ohlone Audubon, Madrone Audubon, and Mt. Diable Audubon) met today at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary with consultant Paquita Bath, who is being provided by Audubon California to help their chapters become even stronger forces for conservation in their communities. This was the first session in a six-month effort to draft new strategic plans for their chapters. Audubon California has enrolled 60 percent of the state’s chapters in this first year of a two-year effort to build the strength of the local Audubon organizations. Chapters are already reporting success reaching their goals of attracting new and younger board members, improving governance, and strengthening their ability to partner with Audubon California and each other on conservation strategies and projects.
Stanislaus Audubon will showcase local birds in a showing of the chapter’s self-produced documentary this Sunday. The chapter will host a benefit screening of its “Wings Over Our Two Counties” and “Birders: The Central Park Effect,” at the benefit.
The California Fish and Game Commission passed the regulations to phase-out lead ammunition at today’s hearing. Today’s decision implements Assembly Bill 711, which Audubon California co-sponsored in 2013 with Defenders of Wildlife and the Humane Society of the United States. The vote was unanimous and a great victory for vulnerable birds like the California Condor and the Golden Eagle. California is the first state to commit to protecting wildlife by phasing out lead. In the photo above are Pamela Flick of Defenders of Wildlife, Juan Altamirano of Audubon California, and Jennifer Fearing representing Humane Society of the United States.
WHEN: Saturday, April 11, 2015. 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM
WHERE: Audubon Starr Ranch — Trabuco Canyon, California
Great Horned Owls and Barn Owls are two of eleven species of raptors that nest on Starr Ranch. Among other nests, this year we have Great Horned Owls using an old Red-shouldered Hawk nest and Barn Owls using a box we put up, both along our access road. At Starr Ranch we routinely put numbered bands on all species of birds to monitor longevity, dispersal and other factors. The chicks in both nests will be ready to band on April 11. We also will have an adult Great Horned Owl or Western Screech Owl at the event on loan from the Orange County Bird of Prey Center.
Lunch will be provided and the schedule of events is as follows. All times are approximate except the start time so please arrive promptly.
11:30 – Intro to Starr Ranch and a discussion about owls and their biology with a live rehab adult owl (see above).
12:00 – Lunch
12:30 – Walk to Barn Owl box (~1/4 mile) and band chicks. Walk to Great Horned Owl tree (~1/4 mile) and band chicks (transportaion can be provided for those who may have difficulty walking)
2:00 – Wrap up.
Last week’s Spring Break camp was a great success. This annual celebration of Los Angeles nature was pulled off by six talented Arroyo Green Team members who volunteered their time. Every day at camp had a different theme: pollinators, birds, habitats, watershed and LA River and environmental stewardship.
Thursday was especially fun because the group took a field trip to the LA River and partnered with Stacey Villagon from LA Audubon who brought some of her students from the Greenhouse Intern Program. For many, this was their first time at the LA River. The group learned about the history and ecological importance of the River and former WINGS Intern Carlos Jagueri led a talk about waterbirds and birding on the river. On Friday the campers learned about how to take what they learned and take action to help nature. They helped to pull weeds at the Debs Park restoration site and made signs that will be posted at the Center with messages like: Plant Native Plants, Don’t Pollute and Pick up Your Trash, Respect & Leave Wildlife Alone, etc. Thank you campers and Arroyo Green Team members!
Audubon California’s Samantha Arthur talks about how to identify a Tricolored Blackbird in the video above. The big difference between the Tricolored and the Red-winged is that colored bar under the red. On the Tricolored, in the male, it’s bright white. On the Red-wing, it’s more yellow-orange. Help us save the Tricolored Blackbird.