Uncovered toxic ponds at solar plant kill dozens of birds

October 31st, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

The headline pretty much says it all.

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Categories: Alternative energy · Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat

Barn Owl not thrilled to find an American Kestrel in its house

October 31st, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

We enjoyed this little moment that our Audubon Starr Ranch Barn Owl webcam caught the other day. One of our loyal viewers was good enough to capture it and post it to YouTube:

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · Video · Wildlife photos and video

With global warming, why bother migrating south for the winter?

October 30th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Interesting article noting that increasing numbers of Pacific Black Brant are choosing not to bother flying south from their breeding grounds in Alaska to warming climates during the winter:

Scientists have documented that increasing numbers of black brant are skipping that far southern migration and staying in Alaska instead. Fewer than 3,000 wintered in Alaska before 1977. In recent years, however, more than 40,000 have remained north, with as many as 50,000 staying there last year, during the most ice-free winter that Izembek had seen in more than a decade.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · Climate Change · fall migration · Global Warming · Pacific Flyway

Audubon chapters working to ease the drought’s effect on birds

October 29th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


Audubon California is partnering with chapters to visit “at-risk” refuges to monitor waterfowl and shorebirds. This real-time data is provided to refuge managers to inform land management decisions to benefit birds. This program is the first of its kind. The Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership provided program design oversight and identified the Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey as an already existing protocol that could be extended for drought monitoring.

Altacal Audubon, Fresno Audubon, Stanislaus Audubon, and Kern Audubon Chapters began biweekly surveys in October on Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Los Banos Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area, Grasslands Wildlife Management Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge, and Pixley National Wildlife Refuge. The surveys sample the refuges for Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Dunlin, Dowitcher, Black-necked Stilt, and Long-billed Curlew. Chapter members also collect habitat characteristics, note the presence of water, and document evidence of diseased birds. Surveys will run through January with the potential to continue through March drawdown as capacity allows.

Stay tuned for more stories from the chapters.

Photo of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area provided by Altacal Audubon Society


Categories: Audubon Chapters · Bird Habitat · Pacific Flyway · Water issues

Vote for birds this Election Day

October 29th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Vote for birds this Election Day.

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Water issues

Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival

October 28th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


Who:  Lodi 18th Annual Sandhill Crane Festival.

Where: Hutchins St. Square, 125 S. Hutchins St., Lodi 95240

Why:  Develop an appreciation and understanding of this once threatened Sandhill Crane which over winters in the Central Valley wetlands.  Enjoy Lodi, the heart of the San Joaquin Valley.

How: Register for tours:, or call 800-581-6150.

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Categories: Birding

How birds will benefit if Prop. 1 passes

October 28th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


Willow Flycatcher by Kelly Colgan Azar

As the Nov. 4 election approaches, Audubon California has been listing the various benefits to California birds that will come about with the measure’s passage. We’ve talked about the birds of the Central Valley, shorebirds and seabirds, the Klamath, and other areas. Now we just want to list all the benefits to birds as we see them in the text of the measure. Let us know that you’re Voting for Birds this Election Day. Here’s the big list:

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · State Policy · Water issues

Research shows brain geometry determines bird migratory behavior

October 28th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


A new study has found a relationship between the geometry of a bird’s brain and its migration pattern. Researchers looked at birds that flew a range of distances and scanned their brains. The forebrain, the largest part of the brain, most of which is made up of the cerebrum, was found to have a large impact on the way environmental stress is processed by a migrating bird. While migrating birds were discovered to have smaller brains, the specific size was not found to indicate the distance traveled during migration; rather it was the region of the forebrain that had the most activity that indicated migratory status. In long distance migrants researchers found the hyperpallium to be larger. Predictions about migration could also be based on subregions in this area of the brain. In large resident birds the area of the brain that comprehends location evolves slowly. In small birds, fledging occurred in a shorter period of time and mirrored brain development. Migrants also had more evolved eye-sight, especially in regards to night vision.

(Via R. Fuchs, H. Winkler, V. P. Bingman, J. D. Ross and G. Bernroider, Brain Geometry and its Relation to Migratory Behavior in Birds. Journal of Advanced Neuroscience Research, 2014, Vol. 1, No. 1 9.) 

Photo of Brandt’s Cormorant by Byron Chin

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Categories: Science

They need you

October 27th, 2014 · by Brigid McCormack


The Lower Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge is a breathtakingly beautiful place, the Pacific Flyway’s Serengeti for birds. Its landscape is a complex of sage brush, forests, wetlands, and farms – a landscape that was missing something vital the last time I visited it: water.

Because of that, hundreds of birds are dying every day there from avian botulism.

It is tough to witness the effects of avian botulism. The disease attacks a bird’s nervous system and shuts down muscle control. It cannot fly or walk, and because it can’t hold its head up, it often drowns. [Read more →]

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Categories: Bird conservation · Brigid McCormack · Important Bird Areas · State Policy · Water issues

To the moon!

October 26th, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


It’s been great to read all the wonderful bird-related articles Wired has been publishing lately. We are particularly taken with this recent article by Matt Simon, and it’s not just because he references Mighty Ducks. Simon explores 17th century scientist Charles Morton, who believed birds migrated to the moon:

To the moon and back. And Morton was even aware of how epic this journey would be. He estimated the one-way trip to be 179,712 miles (he wasn’t so far off—the moon varies between 226,000 miles and 252,000 miles away, on account of its elliptical orbit), and reckoned it would take the birds 60 days to reach our satellite flying a dizzying 125 mph. Still, Morton reasoned, they pulled it off. And, really, because some species seem to disappear entirely, the only logical conclusion is that they set off into space. “Now, whither should these creatures go, unless it were to the moon?” he asked.

Enjoy the rest of the article here.

(Via Wired)

Moon by Kenneth Spencer

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Categories: Birding · birds and culture · Science

Prop. 1 is a big part of the solution for Central Valley birds

October 25th, 2014 · by Garrison Frost


A key provision of Proposition 1 could provide tens of millions of dollars for the state’s legal obligations to support 19 Central Valley wildlife refuges that provide critically important wetland habitat for ducks, geese and other migratory birds. Federal law requires California to pay 25 percent of the cost to provide sufficient water to meet the conservation needs of these refuges, but in the 22 years since the law passed, those refuges have only received their promised water once.

Let us know you’re voting for birds this Election Day.

Proposition 1 designates $475 million for California to meet its obligations under federal and state laws, interstate agreements, and legal obligations. Funds would be used on restoration projects, water delivery infrastructure, and conservation efforts at the 19 Central Valley Refuges, as well as at the Salton Sea, along the San Joaquin River, and in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta.

 “We’ve made a promise to support these vitally important habitat areas in the Central Valley and the millions of birds that depend on them for survival,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “Through Proposition 1, we can finally keep that promise, and secure a future for these amazing birds.”

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Categories: Audubon California · Bird Habitat · State Policy · Water issues

You won’t believe how the sound of this forest has changed

October 23rd, 2014 · by Garrison Frost

Bernie Kraus is a bio-accoustician who records and studies natural sounds. Check out this KQED story about how he has recorded the same patch of forest in Northern California over time and found dramatic changes in the sounds he hears. You won’t believe your ears.

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

Add shorebirds and seabirds to those benefiting from Prop. 1

October 23rd, 2014 · by Garrison Frost



While Proposition 1 on the November ballot will help birds of all types throughout the state, two types of birds that you might not expect to benefit from a water bond stand to gain a great deal. Shorebirds and seabirds – including endangered or imperiled species – will directly benefit from funding to state agencies that oversee coastal restoration and marine fisheries. Among the birds that stand to gain the most include shorebirds such as the threatened Western Snowy Plover (top image by Len Blumin), rocky intertidal species such as the Black Oystercatcher, and marine birds such as the Brown Pelican (bottom, by Michael McCarthy).

Tell us that you’re voting for the birds this Election Day.

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Categories: Audubon California · Birding · Salton Sea · State Policy · Water issues

Map animates Salton Sea shrinkage

October 23rd, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


The Los Angeles Times created an animated map that shows the slow decline of the Salton Sea over the past decades. While once a huge resource for California birds, the recent drought and redirection of water resources have made a huge dent in the amount of suitable habitat. Find the map here.

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Categories: Important Bird Areas · Infographics · Salton Sea

Stupid bird humor

October 23rd, 2014 · by Daniela Ogden


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Categories: stupid bird humor