News and notes about birds and conservation in California

California Condor. Photo: Scott Frier/USFWS

Audubon California testifying in Washington about the drought's affect on birds. Audubon California Director of Public Policy Mike Lynes is on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to talk about the drought's impacts on birds and habitat. Here he is at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Congress lets one one of country's best conservation programs expire

Despite bipartisan support for the 50-year-old program that has preserved more than 7 million acres, Congress last week allowed funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to expire without reauthorization. And prospects for reallocating those funds are grim.

San Diego Union-Tribune ed board: Now's the time to prevent disaster at Salton Sea

The Salton Sea hosts a wide diversity of birds. Photo: T Patel

The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board is unequivocal today, saying that now is the time for state legislators to take action to prevent an environmental and public health disaster at the Salton Sea.

The drought is making things hard for California birds. The Butte Sink National Wildlife Refuge in California's Sacramento Valley typically supports wintering populations of over 300,000 ducks and 100,000 geese. This year is going to be rough. Let's hope that El Nino comes through.

Come see the Vaux's Swifts in downtown Los Angeles

Our friends at the National Park Service and Los Angeles Audubon Society are hosting a viewing of Vaux's Swifts in downtown Los Angeles at the Ace Hotel (929 S. Broadway) tonight at dusk. Hopefully the birds will be on hand. Between 4 and 7 pm at the rooftop bar. Park Ranger Anthony Bevilacqua will be on hand to guide the viewing. Right after sunset the Vaux Swifts will start to gather in large numbers, sometimes up to 20,000 birds, and then they begin swirling like a school of fish before finally descending into the chimney. It is quite a sight, nonetheless to be taking place in the middle of Downtown LA. The video above is from 2013.

You're invited to bird Bobcat Ranch

You're invited to bird Bobcat Ranch

Along with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, we invite you to come bird our Bobcat Ranch. Come explore the ranch with a friend and help us add to our bird list. Dates are from October to December.

Well, hello there

Mantis religiosa, commonly known as a preying mantis, photographed by Marcos Trinidad at Audubon Center at Debs Park.

Art Flash Mob and other educational programs protect herons in downtown Oakland

Art Flash Mob and other educational programs protect herons in downtown Oakland

Golden Gate Audubon Society is raising awareness of the heron colony and teaching people how they can help these magnificent urban birds.

A moonlight sonata at the Audubon Center at Debs Park

City Lights from Sky Line Trail Photo: Oscar Rojano

I had it all planned out. I assembled the perfect blood moon charcuterie and paired it with a nice bottle of red. We left the house early since it was a FREE night at Griffith Park Observatory, promising to be the best star party in all of LA featuring the super blood moon. Telescopes were being provided for public use and the LA Phil’s pianist was set to play Beethoven sonatas to boot! 

We knew we were doomed when my car started to slow down to a near stop on the main parkway to the observatory. Too many cars and the lunar eclipse was fast approaching. The park ranger controlling the traffic shared, “If it were me, I wouldn’t drive any further.”  We quickly and disappointedly began to brainstorm where to go. My boyfriend reminded me that I had the keys to Audubon Center at Debs Park. We found a way out of the Hollywood Hills without much trouble and made it over to Debs within 15 minutes. There, we found other super moon enthusiasts hiking up the steep hills to the highest points to catch a glimpse! No one was in our way and we were determined to go higher and further east.  

By 7 pm, we started to see the earth’s shadow appear on the moon through a cloudy sky. As we settled into our spot I could finally focus. I could see and hear trains, car horns and engines revving. I was hearing a new rendition of the moonlight sonata. The best sounds were laughter and “ooooohs and awwwwwws” from the people sitting in between coastal sagebrush, on coast live oaks, and blankets along the trails. The whole evening reminded me of how special this place is for people and wildlife. Later that evening, on our way home, I reflected that we were like the animals living in and around LA. I felt crowded out of Griffith Park and sought refuge in Debs Park. This refuge turned into an outdoor amphitheater last Sunday night and I was so content that my plans had changed last minute. 

Next day, the Los Angeles Times reported that the views from Griffith Park were not as good as all the hype and traffic was jammed for hours.

State pushes forward on emissions reductions

Photo: Ian Barbour

The California Air Resources Board Friday voted to reinstate regulations aimed at cutting transportation fuel emissions by 10 percent over the next five years. This action follows through on Gov. Jerry Brown’s commitment to continue his fight for tougher climate change policies in the Golden State following the Legislature’s failure to impose strict reductions on petroleum use (50 percent over the next 15 years) during its 2015 session. Audubon California supports these measures, not just because these emissions drive the changes in climate that are putting birds at risk of extinction, but also because air pollution poses direct threats to public health and the health of birds and the environment.