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Bay Area Bird Blog » local birds

Archive for the 'local birds' Category

24th 2010
Miscellaneous news, September 2010

Posted under local birds

  • The Nature Conservancy photo contest (mentioned a couple of posts ago) ends soon.  Hurry up and get in your entry!
  • The former Alameda Naval Air Station is the home of the world’s most successful breeding colony of California Least Terns, an endangered species!  (Golden Gate Audubon has a great program out there, monitoring the site and keeping it safe.)   The Navy has been a good partner.  Unfortunately, they want to transfer the land to the Veteran’s Administration, which intends to build a clinic and columbarium (for storing cremated remains).  I think we can all agree that a VA clinic and columbarium are praiseworthy…but do they really have to go at this specific location?  No, of course they don’t.  But politicians don’t want to be seen “voting against veterans,” which is seen as a lot worse than “voting against birds.”  And of course the VA claims, against all evidence, that they won’t actually hurt the birds.
  • Our friends at have been posting some interesting things recently, including a fascinating but disturbing story about a city that removed a beaver dam, thereby killing a large fraction of all of the remaining watercress darters in the world. (The watercress darter is a lovely little fish).


    22nd 2009
    Antioch burrowing owls are being evicted

    Posted under activism & endangered species & local birds

    This is really sad.  The City of Berkeley, and the Golden Gate Audubon Society, have been working really hard to preserve their tiny remaining population of burrowing owls (three in Cesar Chavez Park, two in the adjacent Eastshore State Park).  At the same time, over in Antioch, a developer is “evicting” burrowing owls (by installing one-way, outward-only gates on their burrows) in preparation to fumigating to kill all of the ground squirrels there, to make way for a big housing development.  Read more about it at “the birder’s report”.  At the least, there should be some kind of required mitigation to try to compensate for the loss of habitat for these birds, which are a “species of special concern” of the State of California because of rapid population decline. Please write to John McCamman the director of the California Department of Fish and Game, with a cc to Regional Director Chuck Armor  At this point they are not going to stop the project but it may not be too late for them to require mitigations; also, it is very important that they know that people out here in the real world notice and care when they drop the ball like this.

    [Note added 1/5/09: I just got a request from the Department of Fish and Game, to remove the name and contact information of the DFG’s local representative, Susan Gilmore.  As you can see here, I have removed the contact info but not the name; people who make important decisions should be accountable for them. But there’s no point overwhelming her with messages if she’s not going to read them or is not supposed to read or respond to them, and I assume that’s the case here.]


    8th 2009
    Burrowing Owls are back at Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park

    Posted under local birds

    If you haven’t seen a burrowing owl, get yourself down to Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley. They are really cool.  There are three owls in the park this winter, and another three in the “Berkeley Meadow” nearby, which is part of Eastshore State Park. Golden Gate Audubon Society has a docents program at the park, so if you’re lucky there will be someone there to point out the owls, show them to you through binoculars or a spotting scope, and tell you about them.  Just follow the path around the perimeter of the park until you get to the orange fence that protects the owls from roaming dogs.  

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    29th 2009
    Martinez Beavers (and friends) are still going strong!

    Posted under local birds

    I thought the beavers were doomed when the city of Martinez did some seemingly unnecessary wall-building right next to the beaver lodge; I figured the beavers would move someplace else…which sounds benign, but isn’t, because wherever they went would probably provide worse habitat: if they knew a better spot, they’d have gone there in the first place!  But I underestimated the beavers, which in fact have hung on in Martinez and have done just great.  And not only are the beaver enjoying the spot, they have apparently made the place attractive to other animals…including the cutest family of minks that you could ever hope to see. Check out the video and photos on the Martinez Beaver blog.


    12th 2009
    New backyard bird for us: Audubon’s Warbler

    Posted under local birds

    As I’ve mentioned before, my wife and I are very proud of our backyard wildlife habitat and we like to brag when we see a new species there. On Saturday I saw an Audubon’s Warbler, a first for our yard! Actually I’m only about 85% sure that that’s what it was — the blotches of yellow are in the right places but it was much less black than in some photos and bird books. But warblers are pretty variable, so that’s not a big surprise. At any rate, whatever it was, it was new to me!


    13th 2009
    Sick pelicans turning up in winter 08-09

    Posted under local birds

    In the last month, hundreds of sick and disoriented brown pelicans have been discovered along the West Coast from Southern California to Oregon. Researchers are still trying to determine the exact cause of the widespread and mysterious illness.

    If you encounter a sick, disoriented or dead pelican, please call the California Wildlife Hotline at 866-WILD-911Read more about the sudden illness of pelicans on the West Coast.

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    12th 2008
    Salmonella in Songbirds: don’t be part of the problem!

    Posted under birds (general) & local birds

    According to the terrific local group Wildcare, “An outbreak of Salmonella is killing songbirds throughout the Bay Area, and WildCare needs your help to stop the spread!”  They give specific advice on their website .  The take-home message for me: I should be cleaning my feeders way more often and way more thoroughly than I do.  Maybe I shouldn’t have them at all!  I will definitely give this some thought, and if I keep the feeders I will definitely clean them better and more frequently.  Please do the same. 

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    9th 2008
    Creek Restoration in San Francisco Presidio

    Posted under local birds

    The SF Chronicle has an article entitled “Presidio’s creeks will spring back to life” that describes a plan to restore the El Polin Spring watershed: “Starting Monday, 58 non-native eucalyptus, cypress and pine trees will be removed from around the springs. Community volunteers will replant the site with native California buckeye, wax myrtle, toyon, willow and grasses grown in the Presidio Native Plant Nursery starting Nov. 22.” 

    You can go and take a look: “A guided walk to El Polin Spring covering the Tennessee Hollow environmental restoration project will be conducted for the public from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at El Polin Springs in the Presidio. For directions and to RSVP, call (415) 561-5357 or e-mail jnichols@”

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