Who's been visiting Starr Ranch lately?

Staff at the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary in Orange County have been monitoring bird populations for almost 20 years. Learn more about these long term efforts and find out which birds have been visiting lately.

On a recent visit to the Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary, a 7th and 8th grade class from LePort School was lucky to see a Golden-crowned Sparrow and Ruby-crowned Kinglet before they left. We checked in with Kim Geissler a Seasonal Ornithologist at Starr Ranch to learn more about bird monitoring there and which species have been visiting lately.

We’ve been monitoring birds at Starr Ranch for a long time thanks Sandy DeSimone who initiated the partnership with the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) back in 1999 to ensure that bird banding and monitoring at Starr would be long term and ongoing.

Starr is in its 17th season of winter migrant bird banding (“MoSI”) and 19th season of breeding season bird banding (“MAPS”) in in partnership with IBP. Starr Ranch banding projects are some of the longest term programs run by IBP and were featured in both the MoSI and MAPS newsletters earlier this year.  The MoSI station at Starr is one of 200 stations in 15 countries that collect crucial data.  The data collected give us information about the movements and habitat needs of migrant birds across the full annual cycle.   This information is critical for understanding and predicting the effects of climate change and habitat degradation on bird populations.

At Starr Ranch we also have long term monitoring projects in sensitive habitats, looking at the Coastal CA Gnatcatcher and four other rare coastal sage scrub songbirds, Grasshopper Sparrow and Western Meadowlarks (grassland habitat quality indicators), and riparian and oak woodland birds.

Kim shared this update from their November banding pulse:

“Our November MoSi banding pulse kicked off on November 15th, when we caught 38 birds.  On the 16th we had 21 birds and on our final day we only had 2. For the entire pulse we captured 61 birds total including 51 new, 8 recaptures, and 2 unbanded. We banded birds of 16 different species, but Hermit Thrushes were definitely the stars of the week with 14 new individuals and 4 recaptures. Our oldest known bird this week was a Bewick’s Wren that was first caught in 2013 and aged “AHY”, making it at least 5 years old. To put this in perspective, the oldest known Bewick’s Wren on record was at least 8 years old. To see more photos, you can visit our flickr page at:

Here’s a list of birds seen, heard or captured (*) at the banding station the last week of November:
1. Cooper’s Hawk
2. Mourning Dove*
3. Anna’s Hummingbird
4. Acorn Woodpecker
5. Nuttall’s Woodpecker*
6. Cassin’s Kingbird
7. California Scrub-jay
8. Common Raven
9. Oak Titmouse*
10. Bushtit
11. Bewick’s Wren*
12. House Wren
13. Ruby-crowned Kinglet*
14. Hermit Thrush*
15. Wrentit
16. Hutton’s Vireo*
17. Yellow-rumped Warbler*
18. Spotted Towhee*
19. California Towhee*
20. Rufous-crowned Sparrow*
21. Lincoln’s Sparrow*
22. White-crowned Sparrow*
23. Dark-eyed Junco*
24. Lesser Goldfinch
25. European Starling
26. Northern Flicker
27. Black Phoebe
28. Say’s Phoebe
29. White-breasted Nuthatch*
30. Northern Mockingbird
31. Golden-crowned Sparrow*
32. Red-tailed Hawk
33. American Kestrel
34. Band-tailed Pigeon
35. Phainopepla
36. House Finch
37. Great-horned Owl

Kim Geissler
Seasonal Ornithologist
Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary

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