Tag Archives: Animals in Berkeley

Rare burrowing owl found dead in West Berkeley park

This dead owl was found Sunday in a Berkeley park. Photo: Urban Bird Foundation
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A rare burrowing owl was found dead recently at Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park, raising some concern in the community.

Local resident Heidi Sachs saw the dead bird on a bench during her run at the Berkeley Marina on Sunday and shared the news with Berkeleyside.

“Really sad for me to think about,” she said, adding, “a passer-by mentioned a puncture wound on the owl’s head.”

On Friday, Earth Island Institute’s nonprofit Urban Bird Foundation released a statement about the discovery of the dead owl. The group said it received a report about the carcass Thursday night.

According to the Urban Bird Foundation, the bird was placed on a bench and puncture wounds could be seen on its body. But the group said it did not recover the carcass itself to verify those reports.

Carolyn Jones, a spokeswoman for the East Bay Regional Park District, said it is hard to know exactly where the bird was killed, but noted it could have died on EBRPD property, at Cesar Chavez Park, or nearby. Its cause of death, however, remains a mystery.

“The owl could have been killed by a feral cat, another raptor (hawks will go after burrowing owls, for example), or another predator,” Jones said by email. “Feral cats are a problem at several East Bay parks.” … Continue reading »

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Monarch butterflies and great ways we can help them

Monarch feeding on a nonnative plant, red valerian (Centranthus ruber). Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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Last November, Berkeleyside published an article about a spectacular natural phenomenon seen in Berkeley for the first time: hundreds of monarch butterflies were clustering in the trees of Aquatic Park.

This fall, thoughtful reader and independent gardener Toni Cox wrote to Berkeleyside, requesting that we create a new article about monarchs.

In particular, Cox noted that these beloved, once ubiquitous butterflies are “struggling” — that a decision on whether monarchs will receive protection under the Endangered Species Act will occur by 2019.

Read about Elaine Miller Bond and see her other nature stories on Berkeleyside.

More about the petition for federal protection for monarchs is available from the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the organizations that filed it.

Here in California, numbers of overwintering monarch butterflies have seen an approximate decline of 74% since the late 1990s, according to Emma Pelton, Conservation Biologist for the Xerces Society and its Endangered Species Program. … Continue reading »

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Schools

Deer jumps into Berkeley pool, disrupts kids’ swim class

Deer in King Middle School. Photo: Jeff Johnston
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A deer leapt into the King Middle School swimming pool Thursday morning, narrowly avoiding landing on young children taking a swimming lesson there, according to a pool staffer.

The deer ran across the pool deck and jumped into the deep end, said Jasper Solomon, a lifeguard at the pool, who said the children, around 3-6 years old, were attending a summer camp swim class. Solomon and his boss, Adonis Boyd, both leapt into action as soon as the fawn landed, he said. They asked everyone to leave the pool and then, using a lifejacket and a floater as buffers, they steered the animal to the shallow end. The fawn then scrambled out of the water and ran away.

Solomon said the incident surprised the kids, but that fortunately nobody was hurt. He described the deer as small and male, probably a fawn.

“The kids got a kick out of all the excitement!” Jeff Johnston, whose son was part of the swim class, wrote us.  … Continue reading »

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See new calf at Little Farm in 360-degree video

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Tilden’s Little Farm is a must-see stop for every family, particularly during summer. The East Bay Regional Park District recently shared this video, by filmmaker Kevin Kunze, which features a six-day-old calf. (The calf is about three weeks’ old now).

Use your cursor in the video below to “travel” though the Little Farm at Tilden Park. … Continue reading »

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How I became a docent for burrowing owls. What a hoot!

Burrowing owl in Cesar Chavez Park in Feb. 2016. Photo: Miya Lucas
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By Rubi Abrams

Newly retired from a fulfilling career as a community college librarian last year, I was ready to plunge into as many birding activities as I could schedule. Birding-related travel, classes, meetups, speaker series, feeder watch, bird counts – the more the better, and most sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon Society. But I was also eager to use my professional skills. I was itching to be a citizen scientist, to have a “conservation conversation” in my community.

Read more (and see photos) on burrowing owls.

Remembering the delightful young adult novel Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, I was inspired to get involved with the GGAS Burrowing Owl docent project. In the novel two young boys embark on a campaign to save the burrowing owl colony in their Florida town from real-estate developers. Although not threatened by local developers, our local burrowing owl populations have declined steeply, and they are currently a federally listed Species of Management Concern and Species of Special Concern in California due to habitat disruption. Though protected, there is still plenty to do in educating the public about these delightful creatures. … Continue reading »

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Gypsie the dog (and its owner) rescue bird on the bay

Photo: Julie Ann Baccelli
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Julie Ann Baccelli had an experience Wednesday which goes to remind you that unexpected happenings can also be good things.

Baccelli was on jogging next to the bay with her Welsh Springer Spaniel, Gypsie. As the pair was running along the shore, Gypsie, who, it is worth knowing, is a bird dog, jumped into the bay and grabbed an injured bird out of the water. The grabbing was done with some care, however, as the video below demonstrates. The cute brown and white dog then brought the bird to her owner.

“I carefully took the flapping, injured bird from her mouth to discover that the bird had a fishing lure through its tongue and, attached to that, a heavy weight,” Baccelli wrote us. “Who knows how long this exhausted bird has been dragging this around for?” … Continue reading »

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10 Berkeley animal stories you didn’t want to miss in 2015

March 31. Chicks approximately 18 days old. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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Berkeleyside reports many animal stories every year, and 2015 was no exception. Sometimes they are strange, such as the day in January when two boars’ heads popped up around town, or the night in June when a squirrel caused a massive power outage. Sometimes they are sad, like the time a couple hung up the body of a deer to make a point about off-leash dogs.

But, more often than not, they are heart-lifting and beautiful. This applies to all the wonderful stories created for us by wildlife photographer Elaine Miller Bond. In 2015, Miller Bond told us about the release of a golden eagle, a hummingbirds’ nest, jumping fish, and glorious clusters of monarch butterflies (a post that was shared more than 21,000 times on Facebook).

And the three-part tale, plus epilogue, by Leslie Smith, about the rescue of a neglected dog, dubbed the “barber’s dog,” was surely one of the most captivating stories of the year.

Below, we bring you 10 of our most widely read 2015 animal-related stories, presented in chronological order. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley teams help make Oakland Christmas Bird Count the biggest in the world

A Brown Pelican spotted during Golden Gate Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count. Photo: Alan Krakauer
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Emilie Strauss peered across Lake Anza and divided up the watery territory by species. “David is counting coots, Mark is doing mallards, who wants to do Pied-billed Grebes?” she called out.

It was just after dawn on Sunday, Dec. 20, and the rosy sky over the lake heralded a welcome break in the rain for the 75th annual Oakland Christmas Bird Count.

Sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon Society, the Oakland CBC covers a 15-square-mile circle that includes Berkeley and the Tilden Park area where Strauss and her team were counting. … Continue reading »

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First time observed: Hundreds of monarch butterflies cluster in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park

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CAPTION: Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in an ash tree in Aquatic Park. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond [LINK: www.elainemillerbond.com]]
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In late October, Berkeleyside received a tip that thousands of tiny fish were jumping in the waters of Aquatic Park.

Less than three weeks later, we received another “scoop” about the park that throngs of monarch butterflies were clustering in the trees.

I’d seen groups of monarchs in well-known gathering places, called “roosts” or “bivouacs,” in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz. But I’d never heard of such a spectacle in Berkeley.

So I rushed the next morning to Aquatic Park, to the trees just east of the 14th hole of the disc-golf course, the site where the butterflies had purportedly been spotted. … Continue reading »

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Making a splash: Fish jumping in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park

Not a flying fish: This is a topsmelt, a common fish in our coastal estuaries. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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Dark clouds gathered last Tuesday morning, and many of us hoped for a storm. Yet, the not-so-still waters at Berkeley’s Aquatic Park didn’t roil from raindrops; they bubbled from thousands of small jumping fish.

According to Dr. Peter Moyle, Distinguished Professor Emeritus with the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis, these little silver fish were juvenile topsmelt (Atheriopsis affinis). Full-size topsmelt can be as long as 14.5 inches. … Continue reading »

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Community

Berkeley couple takes death of fawn into own hands

Fawn. Photo: Christian Stauduhar
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Disclaimer: This article contains graphic photographs that some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

A North Berkeley couple was distraught by the death of a fawn near their home on Thursday, and took matters into their own hands after failing, they said, to get a prompt response from city of Berkeley staff or officials.

Christian and Tara Stauduhar say they are convinced an off-leash dog killed the fawn, and say it’s not the first time off-leash dogs have caused problems in the area, on their property and at adjacent Glendale La Loma Park in northeast Berkeley. 

Christian Stauduhar told Berkeleyside, by email, that he woke up just before 7 a.m. Thursday to the sounds of “an animal screaming, a dog barking, and the dog owner yelling for his dog” at the park.

I went outside to investigate, and observed the dog running around on our property before returning to its screaming owner,” Stauduhar wrote. “I was unable to catch more than a glimpse of the owner, who was in the park, about a hundred yards away.”

Stauduhar then looked around for the animal he had heard in distress, and found a fawn on his property. The fawn was “wet around the neck and hind legs, but was able to turn its head to look at me, and was standing.” Stauduhar watched the animal from about 20 feet away for approximately 5 minutes, then went inside.

“The animal had clearly been attacked, but since it looked mobile, and because it is illegal to render aid to a wild animal in California, I left her to her recovery,” he wrote.

About an hour later, he went to check on the fawn and found that it dead. … Continue reading »

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Community

The story of a rescued barber’s dog: Epilogue

Michael, Jessica and Fergus. Photo: Sally Creevy
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In February this year, we published, in three parts, Leslie Smith’s compelling account of “the barber’s dog,” dubbed Fella. In the final part, Smith drove Fella to Colorado, to join a famed pit bull rescue program. Fella was renamed Fergus and, Smith wrote, “This is where the story of the barber’s dog ends.” But Smith — and Berkeleyside — had to know what happened next.  

By Leslie Smith

For nearly 15 months, the barber’s dog and I spent my lunch hour together. He would flirt from behind a chain link fence, and I would toss treats and reach in through the openings to pet him. Then, ColoRADogs swooped in for the rescue, delivering him from a cement lot in Oakland to his new life near the base of the Rocky Mountains.

On May 16, I boarded a plane bound for Denver and went to visit the dog I hadn’t seen since January. I think he remembered me? To be honest, it wasn’t one of those pup-goes-nuts-when-soldier-comes-home-from-war videos that go viral and end up on the homepage of CNN. It was more of a gradual recognition: Oh, hey. It’s… you.

Fergus took my unbridled affection like a champ. He even offered a wiggle and snort or two of his own, just to prove he was in the spirit of things. But out of the corner of my eye I watched him watch Jessica, his foster mom, as she toured me around the house. She pointed out his favorite spots, and he tracked her every move. I got to see his various beds and the drawer where his bully sticks are kept and the area in backyard where he first fell in love with his leggy foster sister, Panda. I saw that he was both adored and adoring.  … Continue reading »

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Goats swarm across road, stop traffic in Berkeley Hills

Goats still
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A herd of grass-munching goats swarmed across Cyclotron Road in the Berkeley Hills last week on the way to another plant-clearing mission below Blackberry Gate.

The goats are part of Berkeley Lab’s vegetation management plan to trim abundant grasslands and reduce fire hazards.

Read more about animals in Berkeley.

Berkeley Lab posted a video of the goats on the move to its Facebook page on June 12. The video was shot by Lab employee David Stein (while he was apparently listening to KQED radio!). It proved so popular that it has been viewed more than 2 million times on Facebook since then, helped no doubt by the fact that Berkeleyside reposted it to its Facebook page, and it was then picked up by other media, including NBC, CNN and the Huffington Post. (Watch the video below the fold.) … Continue reading »

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