News and notes about birds and conservation in California

California Condor. Photo: Scott Frier/USFWS

Feds should sustain ban on lead ammo in wildlife areas

Feds should sustain ban on lead ammo in wildlife areas

California led the way on removing hazard of lead ammunition from the environment. Federal government should follow suit.

San Joaquin Valley floor still falling due to groundwater pumping

We've talked about this before, but pumping from aquifers under the San Joaquin Valley is continuing to cause the valley floor to sink significantly:

Ground levels in some areas have dropped 1 to 2 feet in the last two years, creating deeper and wider “bowls” that continue to threaten the vital network of channels that transport water across Southern California, researchers say.

The findings underscore the fact that even as record rain and snow have brought much of California out of severe drought, some parts of the state will probably struggle with water problems for years to come.

An early contributor to our knowledge of birds and nature

An early contributor to our knowledge of birds and nature

Black History Month gives us the opportunity to recognize the groundbreaking nature photography of Robert A. Gilbert.

Never know what you'll find while banding birds

Ten-year-old California Towhee banded at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary in Orange County.

You never know what you're going to find when you're banding birds. Last week at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary, we came across a recaptured California Towhee that is at least 10 years old. This individual was originally banded in December of 2008 as an AHY. It's a little battered, but for such an old bird, it is in fantastic shape. Let's hope it is getting ready to breed and perhaps we'll be lucky enough to catch it again next year. The oldest California Towhee on record was just over 12 years old.

See you next time, old friend.

Outdoor industry making its mark on conservation

If you were looking for proof that nature enthusiasts can make an impact on conservation, this story about Patagonia flexing its muscle in Utah on the issue of public lands is probably it.

Visiting with Egret Wines in Sonoma. Last week, we paid a great visit to Egret Wines, which has been a sponsor of Audubon California since last year. While touring the vineyard and winemaking facility, we talked about how we might work together to help birds on the land. We even saw a Great Egret. Pictured, left to right, Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack, Egret Wines Founder John Bambury, and Audubon California's Garrison Frost.

Yolo Bypass springing back to life

Great article in the Los Angeles Times about how recent rains have brought the struggling Yolo Bypass near Sacramento back to life.

A place for birds in Los Angeles

Great video about our efforts at the Audubon Center at Debs Park to involve the community in making Los Angles a better place for birds.

Habitat loss is harming genetic diversity of Ridgway's Rails in San Francisco Bay

Ridgway's Rail. Photo: Steve Valasek

It's no secret that habitat loss has put a number of sensitive birds at risk in San Francisco Bay. Center stage is the endangered Ridgway's Rail (formerly known as the California Clapper Rail). A new study from the USGS, co-authored by Audubon California's John Takekawa, notes that habitat loss has so isolated different populations of rails that it is impacting the species' genetic diversity. This puts this imperiled species at even great risk. The good news is that, thanks to the voters of the Bay Area, a serious effort to restore wetland habitat in San Francisco Bay will be launched in the coming years.

Looks like our Barn Owl pair has laid their first egg of the season at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary. With all the rain we've had lately, there should be good conditions for chicks. Watch it all live.

How you can help, right now