Tag Archives: Burrowing owls

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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Burrowing owls come out to preen at Berkeley Marina

Burrowing owl by Greg Merritt
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The Berkeley Marina’s much loved burrowing owls were out and about this weekend. Berkeleysider Greg Merritt caught this shot of one of them on Saturday afternoon. He said it was taken at the special fenced-off area near the Tom Bates/Gilman Sports Complex.

dozen volunteer docents from Golden Gate Audubon Society who help passersby spot and learn about the small population of Western burrowing owls who spend each winter at the marina.

As Illana DeBare reported for us this time last year, Western burrowing owls have been designated a “species of special concern” by the state of California, as their population has been declining. Local residents reported seeing as many as 15 owls at the Berkeley Marina a decade ago; last year just five were documented. … Continue reading »

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Burrowing owls, and docents, return to Berkeley park

Photo: Doug Donaldson
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By Ilana DeBare

Most people go to Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina to walk dogs, fly kites or stroll kids.

Karen Smith goes to monitor owls.

Smith is one of about a dozen volunteer docents from Golden Gate Audubon Society who help passersby spot and learn about the small population of Western burrowing owls who spend each winter at the marina.

This year, five owls have been documented – two in the area set off from pedestrians by a new owl-friendly art installation and three in other parts of the marina. The small ground-dwelling birds spend much of the day sitting alertly near their burrows, astonishingly close to all those humans with dogs, kites and strollers. … Continue reading »

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