Tag Archives: Animals in Berkeley
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
[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 »
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.
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 »
A mangey red fox has been seen in the Berkeley Hills near Tilden in the past few weeks, spurring varied responses by neighbors on how to deal with injured and sick wildlife, especially given the fact that the red fox is not native to California and has caused rampant ecological damage across the state.
Chris Welch, a resident of Fairlawn Drive near the edge of Tilden Park, first spotted the fox in his backyard in mid-July. He expressed concern and said it appeared to have “very advanced mange.” … Continue reading »
Last year, Rusty Scalf, teacher and trip leader for the Audubon Society, introduced me to a family of western bluebirds living and nesting in Berkeley’s San Pablo Park. This year, Scalf called me back. Apparently, a “mad man” had flown onto the bluebird scene.
“He’s like a Rambo,” Scalf said. “A worm bandit… a total behavioral outlier.” “He,” the bluebird shown above, was a fledgling, a few weeks old, which undertook intensive hunting forays across the park. He even “mugged” a house sparrow and competed with his parents, beak-to-beak, for insects and worms — food he delivered to his younger brother and two sisters in the nest.
Hikers, runners, and bicyclists along Tilden Park’s popular Skyline Trail have been greeted by something new in the past several days: a large, white poster-board sign scribbled with an unusual warning.
“Rattlesnakes seen on this trail — use caution,” says the handwritten sign, mounted on an A-frame style roadblock on Upper Springs Trail where it cuts down from Skyline, dropping steeply to South Park Drive.
To many aficionados of the East Bay’s extensive network of trails, rattlesnake warnings might not seem unusual. Snake sightings in say, Black Diamond Mines or Sibley Volcanic Preserve are common, say naturalists at the East Bay Regional Park District, which manages both areas, as well as Tilden Park.
And occasional rattlesnake bites are reported in these drier, warmer areas, including one last year, said Emily Hopkins, public information officer for the park district.
But Tilden is another matter.
“I’ve been here 18 years, and personally, I’ve seen only one rattlesnake myself,” said Bill Kaminski, acting supervisor of Tilden. “They are here. But very infrequently do people run into them, or report them to us.” … Continue reading »