Tag Archives: Golden Gate Audubon Society

Climate change spells trouble for Berkeley birds

Burrowing owl.
Print Friendly

Some of Berkeley’s most common and beloved birds could face extinction within the next 70 years due to climate change, according to an authoritative new study by National Audubon Society.

The study – released on Tuesday after seven years of research – predicts the effects of climate change on 588 species of North American birds.

It concludes that nationally, 314 species are at risk – nearly half of the continent’s bird species. Of those, 126 species could see severe population declines by 2050, and another 188 species face the same fate by 2080 if climate change continues on its current path.

For Berkeley and the Bay Area, the list of birds in climate trouble includes some species like Snowy Plovers and Least Terns that are already on state or federal lists of endangered/threatened species. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Cardinals trounce Bears in first ever birding Big Game

Maureen Lahiff and Jack Gedney search for birds on the UC Berkeley campus. Photo: Peter Maiden
Print Friendly

Ten birding Bears! Four song-filled hours! Sixty-four species! But alas, no victory.

The Berkeley birding team organized by Golden Gate Audubon Society fell eleven species short of their cross-bay rivals on Sunday morning, in the first ever Cal-versus-Stanford Big Game birding competition.

The Stanford team spotted 75 species to Berkeley’s 64. Berkeley may have been undone in part by the humble sparrow.

“We had a lot of sparrows,” said Rob Furrow, a Santa Clara Valley Audubon member who led the Stanford team. “White-throated Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, Lark Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows.” … 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

burrowing-owl-w-squirrel-penelopedia
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 , , , , , ,

It’s Cal versus Stanford in first ever birding Big Game

DSC_5863
Print Friendly

“Go Bears! Spot that warbler!”

That’s a chant you’re unlikely to hear from the packed bleachers of Memorial Stadium during a Cal-Stanford football game.

But it’s a chant a certain group of enthusiasts will be mouthing silently to themselves on April 13, when Golden Gate Audubon Society faces off against Santa Clara Valley Audubon in Birding’s Big Game — the first-ever Cal vs Stanford birding competition.

As part of Golden Gate Audubon’s annual Birdathon fundraising month, a team of Cal faculty, staff, students, and community members will spend four hours combing the UC Berkeley campus to find as many bird species as possible. Their rivals in Santa Clara Valley Audubon will be doing the same thing on the Stanford campus. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

“Catios” protect birds, give cats taste of outdoors

Phil Price and Juliet Lamont call to their cat Chester in the elaborate catwalk they have built at their north Berkeley home. The "catio" lets indoor cats have a taste of the outdoors. Photo: Ilana DeBare
Print Friendly

The black cat named Totoro trained his bright yellow eyes on a Chestnut-backed Chickadee singing on a branch. The chickadee was only a few feet away. There was no windowpane between them. The cat could practically reach out and grab the bird.

The bird was safe.

Totoro was in his “catio” – an outdoor enclosure or patio designed to let house cats experience the sights and smells of the outdoor world, while keeping both birds and the cats themselves from harm.

“We have some of the happiest cats,” said Phil Price, a Golden Gate Audubon board member who built the North Berkeley catio where Totoro was sitting. “They love to come out, sniff the air, sleep in the sun, and watch people walking their dogs down the street.” … 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 , , ,
Events

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 ,

In a Berkeley park, a bluebird displays unusual behavior

_MG_4810.720pix
Print Friendly

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.

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Can’t get enough of them: Berkeley’s burrowing owls

burrowing-owl
Print Friendly

We admit we are suckers for these adorable birds, so when regular Neil Mishalov sent us these two gorgeous pics, it didn’t take long to decide to share them with you, even though it was barely two weeks ago that we published another photo of this beautiful bird.

News of these special birds is spreading. New York Magazine recently included a visit to spot the burrowing owls as an “Insider’s Tip” in its Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan to Berkeley story. (They also recommended checking out Berkeleyside’s Nosh for East Bay food news, a point we couldn’t disagree with.) … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Christmas Bird Count is not just for the birds

Snowy Egrets / Photo by Alan Krakauer
Print Friendly

By Ilana DeBare

Maureen Lahiff treks across the UC campus every weekday for her job as a public health lecturer.

Last Sunday, she made that trek again but saw the campus in a whole new light —  as a place brimming with birds.

Lahiff was among 200 volunteers taking part in the 72nd annual Oakland Christmas Bird Count, run by the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Part of a national Audubon tradition, the Oakland count covers a 177-square mile circle that stretches north to Point Isabel and south to the Oakland Airport. Five of the count’s 29 teams were assigned to sections of Berkeley, including the waterfront, Claremont Canyon, Tilden Park, UC, and central Berkeley. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Aimee Baldwin’s creatures come home to Tilden Park

Aimee Baldwin and Great Blue Heron. Photo: Ilana DeBare
Print Friendly

By Ilana DeBare

As a child, Aimée Baldwin spent Saturday mornings learning about the wildlife of Tilden Park in its junior ranger program.

Now her own wildlife is about to be displayed there.

Baldwin, 36, is a Berkeley artist who specializes in what she calls “vegan taxidermy” – extraordinarily lifelike sculptures of birds made by hand from crepe paper, wire and Styrofoam.

On Thursday May 10th, her work will be exhibited at the Brazilian Room, in the center of her old Tilden haunts. The one-night show is part of a silent auction and dinner to benefit Golden Gate Audubon Society, the local Audubon chapter covering San Francisco, Berkeley and neighboring communities.

“Bird people really appreciate what I do and all the effort I put into making things realistic, versus people who can’t tell the difference,” Baldwin said. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Burrowing owls, and docents, return to Berkeley park

Photo: Doug Donaldson
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , ,