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Do spiders have nightmares about birds?

February 17th, 2015 · by Daniela Ogden

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Who doesn’t enjoy an early morning snack of spiders? Birds like the Northern Mockingbird pose a serious threat to a spider’s survival. Most deaths occur when spiders hunt. Researchers recently studied how dangerous it can be for spiders by looking at three different strategies, including: free-hunting, two-dimensional web, three-dimensional web. From the published paper:

Free-hunting spiders suffered most from avian insectivores and predation rate was significantly higher than in spiders with two-dimensional webs. Spiders with three-dimensional webs were exposed to a predation rate in between those of the two other hunting strategies. 

Free-hunting refers to spiders that rely on venom injections to find their meals. While these insects often inspire the biggest source of willies for humans , they are brought to their demise by a single peck.

Perhaps this news poses an opportunity for birds to finally be the hero in a horror movie? 

Via Gunnarsson, B. and Wiklander, K. (2015), Foraging mode of spiders affects risk of predation by birds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. doi: 10.1111/bij.12489.

Northern Mockingbird by Beedie Savage

 

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Categories: birds and culture · Science · Uncategorized

An evening of fishing off the Santa Barbara Pier

February 14th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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photo by Eric Wat.

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding

Now you know how to draw an owl

February 14th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · birds and culture

Join us at the Capitol: Audubon California’s March 11th Advocacy Day is fast approaching

February 13th, 2015 · by Desiree Loggins

Sandhill Cranes by John Carrel, Creative Commons

When you are standing out at Consumes River Preserve or Staten Island watching Sandhill Cranes in the foggy wetlands and agricultural fields, it can seem a world away from the white walls of the Capitol Building. However different they may be, these two distant worlds are intimately connected through politics. Those Sandhill Cranes that you know and love need protected areas and water for habitat especially during this time of drought and many of the decisions around the allocation of precious resources like water and funding are made in the halls of our capitol.

Audubon members and supporters make up a passionate and vocal portion of our legislators’ constituencies. As a collective, we have the ability to begin a serious conversation on why birds matter so that policy makers are held accountable. On March 11th, Audubon California  and Audubon chapter leaders will meet with local district representatives to address drought and water issues, and Audubon’s Climate report. Through this action, we hope to inspire and encourage key decision makers to value conservation and to vote for birds!

We invite you to partner with us on this important day of action. REGISTER HERE today or reach out to your local Chapter Network Manager for more information.

It’s safe to say that those reading this understand that Birds Matter. Our goal is to make sure the folks at the Capitol do, too.

Photo of Sandhill Cranes by John Carrel, Creative Commons

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Climate Change · Global Warming · State Policy

Restoring California Least Tern habitat with the San Diego Audubon Society

February 12th, 2015 · by Ariana Rickard

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I grew up in San Diego and recall seeing images of animals coated in oil after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Ever since that time, I have wanted to work on protecting animals and the environment. I looked for local opportunities to take action on issues that were important to me when I was in high school. One summer, my sister and I participated in a beach clean-up on Fiesta Island. I remember being alarmed by the animals I saw that were directly harmed by marine pollution.

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Volunteers filling buckets and bins with invasive plants

Twenty years later, I returned to Fiesta Island to help with another wildlife project, this time with the San Diego Audubon Society. As the Coastal Chapter Network Manager for Audubon California, I visit our local Audubon chapters to learn about all the great work they are doing to conserve birds and habitat. I joined 21 San Diego Audubon Society volunteers last Saturday at Stony Point of Fiesta Island to help prepare a breeding site for California Least Terns. Volunteers removed 52 bags of invasive plants from this important nesting site! [Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · How to help birds

State Parks completes purchase of 25,000 acres of prime bird habitat in Kern County

February 11th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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California State Parks in December completed the purchase of approximately 25,000 acres in Kern County – ranging from the Mojave Desert to the Southern Sierra. The land in the Kelso Valley includes Butterbredt Springs and Jawbone Canyon, both of which are highly prized bird habitat within the Southern Sierra Desert Canyon Important Bird Area. Audubon supported this purchase to help ensure that State Parks will stop further wind energy development in this area, as well as increase protection for these critical habitat areas.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Audubon Chapters · California State Parks · Kern River Preserve · Pacific Flyway · State Policy

California Legislature launches new climate proposals

February 11th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León at yesterday’s press conference.

California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León yesterday announced a broad package of climate change proposals that leaders hope will further reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels. Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack was on hand at the event to support the new proposals.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Global Warming · State Policy

California Towhee stars in this report from the Audubon Starr Ranch

February 9th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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Just got this very cool update from Holly M. Garrod, ornithologist at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary in Orange County:

It feels like this week has been extra birdy! And with the creek flowing, there have been some rather interesting bird sightings. The other day walking up the road I was surprised when two Mallards flew up out of the creek. Then while doing a morning bird walk, I was thrown off when I heard a shorebird. Upon further listening, I realized it was a Killdeer. While they aren’t restricted to wet areas, still a bird that isn’t commonly heard on the ranch.

This week’s featured bird friend is….

California Towhee (Melozone crissalis). California Towhees are large brown sparrows, easily identified by orange-brown on the underside of their tail and the same warm orange-brown on their face. Towhees are ground foragers; they have large claws they use for flipping over leaves, looking for tasty seeds and insects. These guys are year round residents, and you can hear their high pitched metallic ‘chip’ song when hiking around. Even though we may not be a huge fan of poison oak, California Towhees love it! Not only can they be found foraging in poison oak, but they also nest in it too!

[Read more →]

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

Rare coastal sage scrub habitat provides a home for threatened gnatcatcher and many other species

February 5th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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You’re walking on a trail in Southern California in early May – perhaps Palos Verdes or La Jolla or San Bernardino – and suddenly you are surrounded by fifty shades of green, brown, and gray. The strong smell of sage and mint reach your nose.  Shrub flowers of every shape and color.

“What is this?” you ask yourself. “How come I’ve never seen this before?”

Odds are that you’ve stumbled into a patch of coastal sage scrub, a community of plants that are uniquely native to the coastal lowlands of Southern California. And the reason you’ve never noticed it before is that it is increasingly rare in the United States.

[Read more →]

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Starr Ranch Sanctuary

Now is a great time to ask fisheries managers to protect food for California seabirds

February 5th, 2015 · by Anna Weinstein

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You’ve probably heard about the alarming mass die-off of Cassin’s Auklets on the west coast these past few months. Over 100,000 birds, mostly young of year, have starved to death due to a lack of krill and copepods that is their primary prey. This unusual and worrisome large scale event highlights the need to protect the ocean food web as the climate changes on our west coast. Right now, you can make a difference for seabirds by sending a letter to federal fisheries managers encouraging them to protect dozens of species of forage fish and squids that comprise the ocean food web.

At the moment, commercial vessels can begin fishing for these species at any time. Though they are not currently being targeted in our west coast waters, some of these fish and squid have been fished in the past or are fished in other areas. Globally, fisheries pressure on forage fish is increasing, which has hurt populations of seabirds and other marine wildlife. Audubon California is working closely with chapters and with partners including the Pew Trusts on the front lines of forage fish policy reform, and we need your voices now for an important decision to take place in March where managers will vote on protecting these key fish. Please follow this link to send your letter today.

(Photo of Cassin’s Auklet by Blake Matheson)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · seabirds

Federal protection sought for Tricolored Blackbird

February 5th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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In further response to the declining numbers of the Tricolored Blackbird, the Center for Biological Diversity this week formally petitioned the Dept. of Interior to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act. The action comes in response to surveys last year that showed the already struggling population has declined as much as 44 percent since 2011. The California Fish and Game Commission in December issued an emergency listing under the state’s Endangered Species Act, and is expected to take up discussion around a formal listing in the spring. Audubon California supported the state action as part of its longstanding efforts to recover this precarious species. In January, at the urging of Audubon California and other partners, the Natural Resources Conservation Service issued a $1.1 million grant to support a partnership including Audubon California, the dairy industry, and federal agencies to support Tricolored Blackbird conservation. (photo by Teddy Llovet)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Endangered Species Act · Federal Policy · State Policy · Tricolored Blackbird

Officials ask residents to empty bird baths, take down feeders

February 4th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

State wildlife officials are now asking residents to empty bird baths and not feed wild birds to help stop the spread of a parasite that is harming native Band-tailed Pigeons.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Birding

Audubon Alaska Is Searching for GIS Biologist

February 4th, 2015 · by Beth Peluso

Mom&son birding_Steve_Hillebrand_FWSDo you believe strongly in the power of science to further conservation? Audubon Alaska is currently looking for a GIS Biologist to join our innovative science team! This position would be based in our Anchorage, Alaska office. See details or apply online.

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Categories: Audubon Alaska

Stupid bird humor

February 4th, 2015 · by Daniela Ogden

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Categories: stupid bird humor

State Fish and Wildlife officials warn about new threat to Band-tailed Pigeons

February 3rd, 2015 · by Garrison Frost

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State Fish and Wildlife Department officials are warning of a new parasitic threat to Band-tailed Pigeons, California’s only remaining native pigeon, and cousin to the now-extinct Passenger Pigeon. The public is being asked to keep an eye our for sick or dead birds, and to report them to wildlife officials. (photo by Carla Kishinami)

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation