Tag Archives: Animals in Berkeley

At 2014 Christmas Bird Count — no rain, much fun

Varied Thrush at Albany Hill / Photo by Alan Krakauer
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The Bay Area’s welcome rainstorms let up for 24 hours on Sunday Dec. 14… just long enough for more than 200 birders to have a fabulous Oakland Christmas Bird Count.

Both novice and experienced birders fanned out over a 15-mile-wide circle including Oakland, Berkeley, Albany and neighboring cities, as part of Audubon’s 115th annual Christmas Bird Count.

Advance registration came to 287 people, a new record for the Oakland count, which was organized by the Golden Gate Audubon Society. Last year the Oakland count was the fourth largest in North America, and this year’s count is likely to be in the top five again. … Continue reading »

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Going green: Frog conservation finds new HQ in Berkeley

Frog. Elaine Miller Bond4387.720pix
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For a long time, I’ve wanted to write an article on frogs for Berkeleyside. In fact, my first “kiss” came from a frog in Tilden Park. It jumped to my lips as I drank water from a fountain on a scorching-hot day at summer camp.

But that was the 1970s. Frogs were more common then. Loud throaty choruses of Pacific treefrogs kept me awake (in a good way) on spring nights, and tiny tadpoles wiggled through the algae-laden waters of a ditch along my street in Kensington. … Continue reading »

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All aflutter: Berkeley insect lovers celebrate 40th year counting butterflies

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A hummingbird whirrs by, as a squirrel flicks its tail, flirting. A robin fluffs its feathers after bathing in the stream. Leopard lilies, columbines, even the cacti are in full summery bloom. But today, at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park, we’re here for the butterflies.

Alan Kaplan, an entomologist, educator, and retired Tilden Park ranger, meets me at the garden’s gate, where, already, I have spotted maybe five different types of butterfly, from a teensy so-called “blue” to a glamorous pipevine swallowtail.

Still, there are rules for counting butterflies in nature. So Kaplan gives me the rundown of the day’s event — the Fourth of July Butterfly Count (currently run by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) — held for its fortieth continuous year in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Government

Berkeley animal shelter budget raises questions

The animal shelter's grand opening celebration takes place at 1 Bolivar Drive on Saturday. Scroll to the bottom of the story for details. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Community supporters of Berkeley’s municipal animal shelter have been raising alarm bells about the shelter’s budget for the coming fiscal year — and their concerns about the city’s lack of budgeting transparency are broadly shared.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts in July is $1.69 million, which is comparable to what the shelter ultimately got in the fiscal year that ends this month, City Manager Christine Daniel told city officials by email May 27.

But shelter supporters say that amount has not been enough to cover operating costs, and fear the shelter may be forced to close one day a week or more as a result. They say the shelter has struggled to cover increased utility costs in its new, larger space, which has a sophisticated air filtration system to cut down on the spread of diseases. Supporters say, too, that services the city used to pay for, including a spay-and-neuter program for low-income residents as well as training for pit bull owners, now must be funded through community donations.

The budget has come before council and the public several times since May 20, and is expected to be approved next week.

According to city spokesman Matthai Chakko, a detailed budget that would show utility costs for the Dona Spring Municipal Animal Shelter is not available: “The budget doesn’t have line items to that degree,” he said via email. Chakko said animal shelter director Kate O’Connor was not available last week for an interview. He said the shelter is “fully funded,” but did not respond to questions about whether the shelter might have to reduce its hours. (The facility is currently open seven days a week.)

The lack of transparency has been a bone of contention for shelter supporters, particularly those who worked to help build the new shelter and fund some of its services. … Continue reading »

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New Pints for Paws fest will benefit Berkeley Humane

Berkeley East Bay Humane society at 9th and Carleton. Photo: Jasper Burget
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Cats, dogs, and beer don’t often come up in the same sentence, but that could soon change thanks to a unique fundraising event for Berkeley Humane.

The Pints for Paws beer festival on June 7 at the Urban Adamah farm at 1050 Parker St. will bring together many well-loved elements: dogs, cats, humans, and brewer’s yeast. There will be a selection of 80 craft beers from more than 20 breweries, and attendees are encouraged to bring their (on leash) dogs.

Highlights from the festival include the chance to meet local artisanal craft brewers, cider makers, and wine makers and a wide range of delicious food will be provided by local food trucks and vendors. There will also be live music to bring the whole event to the next level. … Continue reading »

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Friends in high places: Peregrine falcons soar above us

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Not long ago, Berkeleyside reader Patrick Hickey kindly sent in a photo of a beautiful bird of prey, perched on a tall building near his home in downtown Berkeley. I had my own suspicions (and sense of elation) over what kind of bird it might be. Then Rusty Scalf, teacher and trip leader for the Golden Gate Audubon Society, confirmed it: the bird was a peregrine falcon — the fastest animal on Earth. In California, not long ago, it was also one of the most endangered. … Continue reading »

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Nature

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
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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 »

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Counting crows: Why are there so many in Berkeley?

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“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 »

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Berkeley squirrels are safe from extermination — for now

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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 »

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Berkeley to kill squirrels, gophers to protect bay

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

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Western Burrowing Owls are back on Berkeley Marina

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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 »

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Dog walkers clash with park district over ‘newt road’

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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 »

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Darlings, not Draculas: Meet the bats of Berkeley

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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 »

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