Tag Archives: Animals in Berkeley


Update: Unhappy ending for crow rescued in Berkeley

Crows in flight. Before they took to the air, they were calling to one another and hanging out in pairs in bare trees. Location: Fairfax. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
Print Friendly

A city animal control officer rescued an injured crow Thursday afternoon after it got tangled in a piece of string and stuck in a tree 40 feet off the ground in West Berkeley.

Workers in an office building called the city Thursday at roughly 2:10 p.m. after noticing the bird struggling but unable to take flight, said John Kindle, an animal control officer for the city.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene, at 700 Heinz St., along with Kindle, to assess the situation.

When Kindle arrived, he used binoculars to take a closer look. He saw the crow high up in the tree with what appeared to be string tied to a branch and wrapped around one of its claws. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Counting crows: Why are there so many in Berkeley?

Crows 1305
Print Friendly

“Why are there so many darn crows in Berkeley these days?”

We get that question a lot at Berkeleyside, and Golden Gate Audubon gets it too.

It’s not just Berkeley. Crows are on the increase throughout the Bay Area, as are their larger and deeper-voiced cousins, ravens.

Back in the 1980s, Golden Gate Audubon members typically found between 30 and 90 American Crows each year in our Oakland Christmas Bird Count, which includes Berkeley. We typically found fewer than ten Common Ravens.

Since 2010, however, the count has turned up over 1,100 crows and 170 to 300 ravens each year. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Berkeley squirrels are safe from extermination — for now

Print Friendly

By April Rose Sommer

Much to the relief of wildlife lovers, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to delay its pilot program to exterminate ground squirrels at César Chávez Park.

The city had generated broad outcry earlier this year when it announced plans to trap and kill park squirrels as a means to address Regional Water Quality Control Board concerns that squirrel burrows might cause toxics underneath the park to leach into the bay.

But on Tuesday, the Council put the extermination plan on hold and directed the City Manager to report back in two months with a plan and a response to the many questions raised by citizens, councilmembers, and environmental and animal rights organizations, including Golden Gate Audubon.

Councilman Kriss Worthington led the efforts for a reconsideration of the extermination pilot program and Councilwoman Linda Maio was careful to stress that the pilot program would not go forward until the council had revisited the issue. Councilman Max Anderson waxed poetic about how the park used to be filled with raptors, the squirrels’ natural predators, and recommended that there be an effort to draw these birds back to the park, while Councilman Gordon Wozniak complained that there are too many squirrels. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Berkeley to kill squirrels, gophers to protect bay

A ground squirrel at Cesar Chavez Park. Photo: Bill Williams/Creative Commons
Print Friendly

In Berkeley, squirrels are in the cross fire.

In an attempt to make sure no toxins leak out of the old landfill under Cesar Chavez Park and leach into San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is hiring a pest control company to trap and kill hundreds of squirrels and gophers that make their home there.

It seems that when the squirrels and gophers do what comes naturally—digging holes or tunneling in the ground—they are getting perilously close to the clay cap that covers the landfill. If the rodents penetrate that barrier, dangerous toxins like gasoline, lead, iron, herbicides and pesticides, could leach into the bay. So the city needs to reduce the animal population to lessen the risk, according to city spokesman Matthai Chakko. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Western Burrowing Owls are back on Berkeley Marina

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 7.08.51 PM
Print Friendly

The burrowing owls that make their home at César Chávez Park on the Berkeley Marina every year are back.

Patrick Hickey, who works out in the pre-dawn hours most mornings at the park, says he has noticed a pair of the birds there for at least the past month.

“They sit right on the edge of the path perhaps three feet away. They always seem to flank the edge of the protected corner area,” he said. “They are quite small. They look at me but I say nothing and I keep moving. I think they realize I don’t want to mess with them. Or they are dangerously blasé!” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Dog walkers clash with park district over ‘newt road’

Print Friendly

Dog walkers who use South Park Drive in Tilden Park for the five months a year when it is closed to cars say recently erected signs that instruct them to keep their dogs on leash contradict a law drafted by the park district 13 years ago. They want the signs taken down and argue that the cyclists who use the stretch of road when it is free of cars constitute a bigger threat to the newts the road’s closure is intended to protect than dogs, whether on- or off-leash.

“There is no legal support for their action. They have acted in excess of their jurisdiction,” said attorney Rena Rickles speaking about the East Bay Regional Park District’s decision to put up the signs in November. Rickles is working pro bono for a group of disgruntled dog walkers more than 50 of whom took their concerns to an EBRPD board meeting on Thursday Dec. 19. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Darlings, not Draculas: Meet the bats of Berkeley

Print Friendly

Once you know what to look for, you might catch glimpses of California’s native bats, even around cities like Berkeley. I see bats near Tilden Park, flittering off into the dusk like tiny airborne scraps of leather. Others notice their pointy silhouettes in the light of the moon, sunset-painted sky, pond reflections, streetlights.

Field biologist Emilie Strauss holds fond memories of watching colonies of bats, fifteen years ago, when they flew out of exit holes in structures in and around UC Berkeley. One of their homes, fittingly, was the Life Sciences Building. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Berkeley’s Painted Redstart helps set local count record

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 11.39.36 AM
Print Friendly

By Ilana DeBare

The Oakland Christmas Bird Count set a new record on Sunday for number of species – thanks in part to a much-ballyhooed rare bird in a Berkeley backyard.

Over 230 birders fanned out across Oakland, Berkeley and other nearby towns in Golden Gate Audubon’s 73rd annual Christmas Bird Count , or CBC as it’s known.

Some started as early as 2 a.m. looking for owls. By sundown, they had counted a preliminary total of 184 species, breaking last year’s record of 183.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Local birders to flock to annual Christmas count

Photo: Ilana DeBare
Print Friendly

If you live near Claremont Canyon and hear unusual activity at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning, rest assured that it’s a group of birders out owling.

The early-morning owl spotting will kick off a busy day for local birders, engaged in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird count, run by the Golden Gate Audubon Society. Berkeley is included in the 74th Oakland bird count, which encompasses a 15-mile diameter circle from Treasure Island, to the San Pablo Reservoir, to St. Mary’s College to the Oakland airport. All of Berkeley is included in the count circle. The count typically records more than 170 species.  … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

First local sighting brings flocks of birders to Berkeley

caption goes here
Print Friendly

This weekend, hundreds of bird enthusiasts flocked to a quiet southside Berkeley neighborhood to catch a glimpse of a beautiful North American breeding bird that has never before been sighted in Alameda County.

The colorful Painted Redstart was still in the Elmwood neighborhood this morning, flitting between three large trees located on three adjacent streets.

Richmond-based graphic designer Lory Poulson, who came to the neighborhood with her partner Susan Gluck to investigate, said they heard the warbler before they saw it.

“It has a distinctive call that sounds like ‘too weet’ with the emphasis on the ‘weet,’” she said using her binoculars to scan a large birch tree on Lewiston Street where the pair had seen the Redstart just before 10 a.m.

The story started Wednesday last week when Katie Bertsche, a scientific illustrator who lives on Prince Street, spotted a flash of bright red in a poplar tree while sitting on her deck. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Berkeleyan gives tips on keeping plants safe from critters

From Ohlone Park in Berkeley: This squirrel had just found a nut in a tree and buried it shortly afterwards. Photo: Derrick Coetzee
Print Friendly

[Editor's Note: Several local neighborhood groups have been buzzing recently about problems around their homes related to wildlife. One local resident, Phil Price, offered these tips based on experiences he and his wife, Juliet Lamont, have had in North Berkeley.]

By Phil Price

A few people in recent weeks have mentioned deer depredations and other issues with birds and wildlife causing problems with landscaping. My wife and I have a lot of experience with these issues.

About 15 years ago we removed all of the ivy, Himalayan blackberry and Algerian ivy that made up the understory of our backyard, and replaced it all with native plants.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Berkeley’s wild turkeys: Is there anywhere they won’t go?

Wild turkeys are part and parcel of daily life in the city of Berkeley. Berkeleyside receives regular updates from our readers of sightings. Sometimes the birds come in pairs, sometimes in large flocks — rarely alone. And, it seems, there is nowhere they will not deign to roam. This past week we have received photos of turkeys on a traffic circle, on a roof, even at the doors of City Hall.

Above: a video by Kim Aronson showing traffic disrupted by turkeys crossing the road (of course!) And below a selection of photos shared with us by readers. … Continue reading »

Print Friendly
Tagged , ,

High lead levels an issue for backyard chickens, soil

Chicken by Will Merydith
Print Friendly

Last month a local veterinarian had a Berkeley client bring in a very sick chicken.

“It was almost dead,” said Dr. Lee Prutton, of the Abbey Pet Hospital in El Cerrito. Prutton said he put the chicken to sleep and, wondering if it had a contagious disease, sent the body to the state lab for testing. The results: heavy metal poisoning, mainly lead.

The vet is now concerned that people are raising chickens in lead-contaminated urban soils, unaware that the lead can enter the chickens’ eggs that we eat.

Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, miscarriage, high blood pressure and learning and behavior problems, and is especially problematic for growing children, according to the Alameda County Healthy Homes Department.

Last October, the New York Times reported that “…a New York State Health Department study show(ed) that more than half the eggs tested from chickens kept in community gardens in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens had detectable levels of lead, unlike store-bought counterparts.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,