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Volume 75, Number 2 November/December 2008

a publication of Los Angeles Audubon

Cactus Wrens in Central & Coastal Orange County:

How Will a Worst-Case Scenario Play Out Under the NCCP?
—by Robert A. Hamilton
A friend who reviewed a draft of the following essay suggested that some readers might interpret my comments
mainly as a plea to feather the nests of Cactus Wren biologists, myself included. Such a critique may seem reasonable,
but it is my experience that biological consultants most concerned about money typically seek to arouse as little public
notice as possible. This is especially true of consultants who frequently work on projects and initiatives with potential for
public controversy. The problem, of course, is that this practice tends to stifle public airing of important policy issues that
could benefit from judicious exposure to light. I have prepared the following essay in the belief that members of Los
Angeles Audubon and others who read the Western Tanager would appreciate an update on the Cactus Wren’s
precarious situation in Orange County as well as an evaluation of possible implications for the NCCP process.
or the past dozen years I The NCCP/HCP identifies the of these species and many other

F have spent most of my

springs and summers
monitoring Cactus Wren populations in
Cactus Wren, California
Gnatcatcher, and Orange-throated
Whiptail lizard as its “target
“Identified Species,” with the
understanding that the three target
species would serve as “surrogates”
the Nature Reserve of Orange County species.” The reserve was designed for the broader suite of organisms
(NROC). Operating under a Board of to meet the ecological requirements that depend upon coastal sage scrub
Directors that consists of
representatives from public and quasi-
public agencies, conservation groups,
and The Irvine Company, the NROC is
a nonprofit corporation responsible for
managing roughly 37,000 acres of
public and private land set aside in
1996 under terms of the Natural
Community Conservation Plan/Habitat
Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP) for
Central and Coastal Orange County. In
exchange for setting aside the land—
roughly 17,000 acres in the coastal
reserve and 20,000 acres in the central
reserve—and funding an endowment
to pay for its long-term stewardship,
Figure 1. Photo taken on 19 July 2006 of a young Cactus Wren in California Buckwheat
the participating land owners received (Eriogonum fasciculatum) at the UC Irvine open space, Nature Reserve of Orange County.
a streamlined development process for This fragment of cactus scrub and ruderal (weedy) habitats, located along the NROC's northwestern
parcels within the central and coastal edge, covers approximately 70 acres and typically supports roughly five pairs of Cactus Wrens.
planning areas that supported more Amazingly, this may be the largest concentration of Cactus Wrens remaining in the NROC's coastal
than 7,000 acres of coastal sage scrub. reserve. Photo by Robert A. Hamilton
for their continued survival in the 2004. The first three declines were in surveys in 2007 and could find only
central and coastal Orange County line with the broad-based, short-term 23 territories in the entire coastal
NCCP planning area. The declines that DeSante et al. (2003) reserve. Not only were the birds
NCCP/HCP specifies that the documented for several scrub- doing poorly within the burn
populations of the target species dependent bird populations in the perimeter, but for reasons not truly
shall be subject to long-term NROC. It seemed likely that these understood they were blinking out of
monitoring and that these taxa shall moderate short-term declines areas like the Sycamore Hills (east of
be treated as if they were listed represented part of a long-term cycle Laguna Canyon Road and north of
under the California Endangered of boom and bust in response to El Toro Road), where wrens were
Species Act and the Federal weather patterns, particularly the thick only a few years ago and where
Endangered Species Act (the amount and timing of precipitation. the cactus scrub never looked better.
gnatcatcher is, of course, federally The much larger drop in detections Page II-37 of the EIR/EIS prepared
listed as threatened). per site for Cactus Wrens in the for the Central and Coastal Orange
coastal reserve, however, provided County NCCP/HCP reports that 421
From 1999 to 2003 the NROC obvious cause for concern, “sites” were known to be occupied
contracted with the Institute for Bird especially since the detection rate by Cactus Wrens within the NCCP
Populations to conduct constant-effort declined by 25% between 2003 and coastal planning area during the
mist netting at several sites within the 2004, a period when detection rates early 1990s. Thus my 2007 count
central and coastal reserves. This for Cactus Wrens in the central represents about 5% of the pre-
effort demonstrated broad-based reserve and California Gnatcatchers NCCP total.
declines in the populations of several in both reserves increased in
bird species dependent upon coastal response to a good rainy season. Page II-37 of the NCCP/HCP
sage scrub (annual percentage change EIR/EIS reports that 612 “sites”
in population size of -8.1% for all bird The coastal reserve’s Cactus were known to be occupied by
species pooled)1 . In general, the Wren population had been of Cactus Wrens within the NCCP
declines appeared to be related to heightened conservation interest ever central planning area during the
drought conditions that prevailed since the Laguna Beach Fire of early 1990s, and my final reserve-
during the years in question, but the October 1993 burned approximately wide sampling effort in 2004 yielded
overall conclusion of DeSante et al. 13,000 acres—nearly 75% of the an estimate of 374±113 territories in
was that “several more years of data reserve area. As reported by the central reserve. Although
will likely be required to confirm that Bontrager et al.3, pre-fire surveys reduced from the earlier reported
the overall declines in landbird yielded an estimate of 282 Cactus level, the Cactus Wren population in
breeding populations now observed at Wrens within the fire’s perimeter, the NROC’s central reserve was
NROC are real, and determine if there and surveys conducted in spring generally regarded as reasonably
is an actual trend to productivity.” 1994 documented 79 pairs remaining stable and secure until 2007, when
in partially burned scrub within the the Windy Ridge and Santiago fires
From 1999 to 2004 I monitored burn perimeter. But cactus grows consumed more than 28,000 acres in
Cactus Wren and California very slowly, and the wrens need the Lomas de Santiago and the Santa
Gnatcatcher populations at 40 sites extensive patches of meter-tall Ana Mountains, including 16,000
scattered across the NROC. During cactus in order to successfully breed. acres within the central reserve. The
this six-year period, detections of By 2001, Cactus Wrens could be NROC responded in early 2008 by
territories per site declined by 33% found at only 31 sites within the contracting with a team of biologists
for California Gnatcatchers in the burn perimeter4. In order to get a to map and survey all of the cactus
central reserve, 17% for California better handle on the situation resources in the central reserve. One
Gnatcatchers in the coastal reserve, throughout the coastal reserve, the of them, Brian Leatherman (pers.
26% for Cactus Wrens in the central NROC contracted with me to map comm.), estimates that roughly 67
reserve, and 68% for Cactus Wrens and classify all of the reserve’s Cactus Wren territories now exist in
in the coastal reserve2 . Extrapolating cactus resources in 2006 and to the entire central reserve, a decline
these results yielded a population simultaneously conduct focused of 89% from the pre-NCCP figure.
estimate of 55±40 Cactus Wren surveys; I found finding 46 Cactus This bad situation would, of course,
territories in the coastal reserve in Wren territories. I repeated these become dire if the central reserve’s

E2 Western Tanager
wren population undergoes a post- adaptive management, Wikipedia’s is
fire decline similar to that reasonably complete and concise: WESTERN TANAGER
documented in the coastal reserve “Adaptive management (AM), also Published by
Los Angeles Audubon Society,
during the past 15 years. known as adaptive resource management a chapter of
(ARM), is a structured, iterative process National Audubon Society.
The NROC’s stated mission is: of optimal decision making in the face of EDITOR: Linda Oberholtzer
“To ensure the persistence of the uncertainty, with an aim to reducing LAYOUT EDITOR: Susan Castor
PROOFREADERS: Hanna Hayman, Marilyn Morgan
Reserve’s natural communities, uncertainty over time via system CONSERVATION: Garry George
including the full spectrum of native monitoring. In this way, decision making FIELD TRIPS: Nick Freeman
plant and animal species, through the simultaneously maximizes one or more PROGRAMS: Mary Freeman
protection, study and restoration of resource objectives and, either passively ORNITHOLOGY CONSULTANT:
native habitats and natural processes.”5 Kimball Garrett
or actively, accrues information needed to PRINTING: G2 Graphics Services, Inc.
improve future management. AM is often
The terms “study” and “restoration” Opinions expressed in articles or letters
characterized as “learning by doing.”8 herein do not necessarily express the
both fall under the NCCP’s adaptive position of this publication or of
management provisions. As set forth The article further explains that Los Angeles Audubon Society.

in the NCCP/HCP’s Implementation active adaptive management involves PRESIDENT:

Agreement: “Adaptive testing various specific hypotheses to Mary Freeman
Management” shall mean a flexible, determine which management David De Lange
iterative approach to long-term approach works best, as when a 2nd VICE PRESIDENT:
Paul Fox
management of biotic resources that manager tests and compares various EXECUTIVE SECRETARY:
is directed over time by the results of restoration techniques on a single Linda Oberholtzer
ongoing monitoring activities and weedy hillside. Monitoring and Eleanor Osgood
other information. Biological managing bird populations across TREASURER:
management techniques and specific Lisa Fimiani
expansive landscapes would generally EXECUTIVE PAST PRESIDENT:
objectives are regularly evaluated in use a passive approach, described as Dexter Kelly
light of monitoring results and other follows: “Passive adaptive EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:
Mary Loquvam
new information. These periodic management begins by using
evaluations are used over time to predictive modeling based on present
Membership in Los Angeles Audubon is $10
adapt both the management knowledge to inform management Student, $25 Individual, $35 Couple, $50
objectives and techniques to better decisions. As new knowledge is Family, $100 & $250 Donor per year, and
$1,000 Lifetime. Members receive the
achieve overall management goals.”6 gained, the models are updated and Western Tanager newsletter and other
management decisions adapted benefits. Donations and memberships can be
made online at
The U.S. Department of the accordingly [Emphasis added].”
Interior has put together a worthwhile, Make check payable to Los Angeles Audubon.
seven-part technical guide to adaptive It is notable that the Los Angeles Audubon Headquarters, Library
management that includes the NCCP/HCP’s definition of adaptive and Nature Store are open to the public
following introductory language: “It is Monday – Thursday
management does not mention 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
thought by many that merely by modeling, and that modeling played
Plummer Park
monitoring activities and occasionally no role setting reserve boundaries. 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard
changing them, one is doing adaptive Instead, the reserve design process West Hollywood, CA 90046-6694
management. Contrary to this largely consisted of biologists, (323) 876-0202 – office
commonly held belief, adaptive planners, and other representatives (323) 876-7609 – fax
management is much more than (323) 874-1318 – bird tape
of various public agencies and
simply tracking and changing private interests poring over the – e-mail
management direction in the face of 1991-92 distributions of coastal sage – e-mail – website
failed policies, and, in fact, such a scrub and the three target species
tactic could actually be maladaptive.”7 and reaching a compact under which Printed on Recycled Paper
most—but not all—of the most
Among numerous published important populations of target
definitions for the general concept of species would be preserved in a two-

November/December 2008 E3
maintains “net long-term habitat
value” in the subregion in two ways:
• first, creation of the Reserve
System will provide the essential
habitat necessary to sustain the
“target and Identified Species”
within the subregion. [. . .]
• second, significant opportunities
for restoration and enhancement
have been identified and are created
within the Reserve System. [. . .]”

To be fair, the EIR/EIS goes on to

acknowledge that “a habitat area’s
future suitability may be affected by a
number of factors,” including
successional dynamics, widespread
catastrophic events, and changes in
competing organisms. Nevertheless,
the language quoted above connotes a
level of certainty about the
Figure 2. Photo taken on 15 September 2006 showing cactus scrub at the UC Irvine open NCCP/HCP’s ability to sustain
space. The view is to the west. Evident in the photo are Coast Prickly-Pear (Opuntia
biodiversity that seems naïve 12 years
littoralis), California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya
pulverulenta), and California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica). Also conspicuous are a big later, as one of the plan’s three target
new parking lot, the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road, Bonita Creek (on the far side of the toll species flirts with extirpation in both
road), exotic landscaping, and suburban residences. Cactus Wrens thrive at this location yet the central and coastal reserves.
show no ability to colonize seemingly attractive cactus scrub at Upper Newport Bay, two
miles to the west. This suggests very poor dispersal abilities, at least across a landscape Rather than going into details of
intensely modified by humans. Photo by Robert A. Hamilton. Photo by Robert A. Hamilton
the monitoring program outlined on
Page II-298 to II-302 of the EIR/EIS,
part habitat reserve (central and ecosystem which minimizes the let me simply note that the
coastal) that represented a need for active intervention to NCCP/HCP’s prescribed monitoring
compromise acceptable to all support viable populations of the approach did not lend itself toward
parties. The reserve designers “Target Species.” However, some gathering the depth or breadth of
possessed relevant information on ongoing active management will be ongoing field data required to develop
the locations of “hot spots” for the necessary (e.g., for pest control and predictive models or otherwise
three target species and for various fire management).” provide for legitimate adaptive
other sensitive species, but they management. Instead, the approach
lacked long-term monitoring data Thus, the central and overriding seemed geared toward providing
for the target species that might prediction of the EIR/EIS enough ongoing data to show that the
have, for example, tracked cyclical preparers—sometimes stated as a fait NCCP/HCP was meeting its
population fluctuations in response accompli—was that the agreed-upon conservation goals. Once biologists
to short-term weather patterns, reserve system would, with proper started implementing this limited
identified locations of “source” and adaptive management, be adequate monitoring approach and trying to
“sink” populations, or observed the to ensure the persistence of the draw inferences about population
long-term responses of populations Reserve’s natural communities and trends that could be extrapolated to
to large-scale fires. As stated on associated native species over the the two reserves at large, or cull
Page II-298 of the EIR/EIS that long term. See, for example, Pages information that could prove useful in
covered establishment of the II-295 and II-296 of the EIR/EIS: an adaptive management framework,
reserve: “The overall strategy of the “Implementation of the subregional the monitoring scheme’s inadequacy
NCCP/HCP is to provide a viable adaptive management program was manifest.

E4 Western Tanager
Under the guidance of Trish worsens because of unforeseen several specified factors, consult
Smith of The Nature Conservancy, circumstances, the primary obligation with the California Department of
the program underwent a thorough for implementing additional Fish & Game, and “consider any
re-evaluation and overhaul before conservation measures would be the responses submitted by any other
the 1999 field season. It is not clear responsibility of the Federal Parties.” If, after completing many
to me that even the retooled and government, other government steps, the Director of the USFWS
vastly improved monitoring agencies, or other non-Federal determines that a finding of
approach would be adequate for use landowners who have not yet Unforeseen Circumstances is
in developing a reliable predictive developed an HCP.10 warranted, the terms of the
model for the three target species, ... NCCP/HCP may be modified in an
but the results obtained between If additional conservation and effort to provide for recovery of the
1999 and 2004 did establish mitigation measures are deemed population(s) in question, and the No
convincingly that Cactus Wrens in necessary to respond to unforeseen Surprises rule is invoked.
the coastal reserve were declining on circumstances, the Services may
a scale and following a pattern require additional measures of the Before I am accused of crystal
unlike that shown by Cactus Wrens permittee where the conservation plan clear hindsight, or of failing to
in the central reserve or by is being properly implemented, but recognize the many valid reasons
California Gnatcatchers anywhere in only if such measures are limited to why this NCCP/HCP turned out the
the NROC. With an even larger modifications within conserved habitat way it did, let me provide the
percentage of the central reserve areas, if any, or to the conservation following context for my criticisms.
having burned in 2007 than burned plan’s operating conservation program
in the coastal reserve in 1993, and for the affected species, and maintain First, I believe that nearly all
with the combined number of Cactus the original terms of the conservation who have participated in developing
Wren pairs in both reserves having plan to the maximum extent possible. the NCCP/HCP for central and
perhaps fallen into double digits, it is Additional conservation and mitigation coastal Orange County, and my
fair to suggest that wren populations measures will not involve the colleagues who have also
in central and coastal Orange County commitment of additional land, water participated in its implementation,
have entered a period of crisis. or financial compensation or have done so honestly, thoughtfully,
restrictions on the use of land, water and constructively. At the time the
The worst-case scenario that I (including quantity and timing of NCCP/HCP was finalized in 1996, I
have described requires delivery), or other natural resources myself would have thought it
consideration of two controversial otherwise available for development or extremely unlikely that the NROC’s
aspects of the NCCP/HCP that its use under the original terms of the Cactus Wren populations could or
architects must have hoped would conservation plan, without the consent would collapse as precipitously as
never be invoked. First is the federal of the permittee.” they have. I am unaware of any
government’s Habitat Conservation expert on the species or on reserve
Plan Assurances (‘‘No Surprises’’) Section 8.9 of the NCCP/HCP design who warned that such a rapid
Rule, which was set forth by the Implementing Agreement is long and collapse was anything but a
Secretary of the Interior on 11 legalistic, but the gist is that the U.S. theoretical possibility.
August 1994 and ultimately codified, Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
after additional public review and may reach a finding of Extraordinary With regard to predictive modeling, I
input, on 23 February 19989. Boiled Circumstances (now referred to as quote from the Scientific Review Panel
down to its essence, “No Surprises” “Unforeseen Circumstances”) if it assembled by the California Department
means the following: “Once an HCP identifies a “significant and of Fish & Game to review the Western
permit has been issued and its terms substantial adverse change in the Riverside County Multiple Species
and conditions are being fully population of an Identified Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP),
complied with, the permittee may [such as the Cactus Wren] within the which was adopted in 2003: “The plan is
remain secure regarding the agreed Central/Coastal Subregion, which constrained by data limitations and the
upon cost of conservation and was not contemplated by the need to protect appropriate habitats
mitigation. If the status of a species NCCP/HCP.” Before making such a before they disappear. Many of the most
addressed under an HCP unexpectedly finding, the USFWS must consider useful models of habitat connectedness,

November/December 2008 E5
viability analyses based on we would have otherwise. from major wildfires, and (b) that such
metapopulation dynamics, and multiple- Furthermore, the NCCP/HCP fires become more frequent as human
species approaches to planning have established a conservation structure populations increase. In hindsight, it
come only from the theoretical literature that can jump-start the process of might have been wise to specify some
and are very recent. Most tests of those population recovery. level of contingency funding for
ideas are only beginning and largely stepped-up fire management practices
being undertaken in areas exclusively Typically, cactus plantings take and intensive supplemental cactus
within federal lands that can be surveyed. many years to become usable by restoration projects in case the
Thus, even the concept of “Best Cactus Wrens. Whereas an intensive problems associated with increased
Available Science” is difficult to assess. program of cactus scrub restoration frequency and/or extent of wildfire
The “best available data” was integrated. undertaken early in the NROC’s turned out to be more serious than
The “best available models” could not existence might have put managers reserve planners hoped and assumed
adequately be parameterized.”11 in a better position to start seeing the they would.
wren population recover several
That such a statement was issued years from now, such a program Another concern is that the bare-
seven years after adoption of the probably would not have helped to bones monitoring program outlined
NCCP/HCP suggests that, as a stem the decline that has taken place in the NCCP/HCP was inconsistent
practical matter, predictive modeling over the past dozen years. with the plan’s explicit reliance on
probably could not have been “adaptive management” as an
“adequately parameterized” for use Finally, Cactus Wrens appear to important guarantor of coastal sage
in designing the reserve system for be in decline all along the coastal scrub ecosystem health and
central and coastal Orange County. slope of southern California, from functions. The architects of the
Ventura County southward. These NCCP/HCP did not realistically
I regard the NCCP/HCP’s land populations were the subject of a determine the breadth and depth of
set-asides, conservation plans, and regional symposium held by the monitoring data that would be
operating endowment as better NROC in April 2008, and since that necessary to create and sustain a
conservation outcomes than would time a coastal Cactus Wren working viable adaptive management
have been likely to be attained group has been convening to start program, and as a result the NROC’s
through the project-by-project developing a coordinated approach monitoring budget is chronically
approach to coastal sage scrub to conserving these populations. underfunded. For example, the
conservation planning that was the Since this is a regional issue, and NROC stopped funding the reserve-
previous norm in central and coastal since Cactus Wrens appear to be wide, constant-effort mist netting
Orange County, and that is still doing poorly even in parts of the venture after collecting five years of
practiced in many jurisdictions in NROC not obviously impacted by data. With each passing year of
southern California. Because the wildfires or other disturbances, it is operation this long-term data set was
wren populations in question are unclear that even 100% preservation becoming a more valuable adaptive
classified as part of of the habitat that existed in 1992 management tool, and because the
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus would have fundamentally improved program was being run by part-time
anthonyi, the widespread subspecies the current situation. interns the costs were relatively low.
found in California’s deserts and The NROC may not be “flying
surrounding areas, these populations In light of all that, you may well blind” in the absence of its long-term
are not, at this time, regarded even as be asking yourself, “Okay then, banding program, but a potentially
California Species of Special what’s this guy’s beef?” My first valuable piece of navigation
Concern, let alone listed as concern is that the EIR/EIS for the equipment has been mothballed for
threatened or endangered. With the NCCP/HCP for central and coastal lack of funds.
“coastal” Cactus Wren’s recognition Orange County generally seemed to
as target species of the NCCP/HCP assume that a worst-case scenario for Finally, one must question whether
and consequent monitoring, we any Identified Species was very the Cactus Wren is truly being treated
undoubtedly know much more about unlikely to happen, and yet we all as if it was a listed species in the central
this bird’s changing status and knew (a) that Cactus Wrens were and coastal Orange County NCCP
distribution in Orange County than likely to suffer serious adverse effects planning area. Has the time come for

E6 Western Tanager
the USFWS to seriously consider parties to avoid the temptation to
whether a finding of Unforeseen downplay the chances for worst-case ptive_management
Circumstances might be warranted for scenarios and to realistically calculate Federal Register 63:8859–8873.
the Cactus Wren in the coastal and/or the costs of operating a Federal Register 63:8867.
central reserves? While it is true that comprehensive monitoring program
such a finding would trigger the No capable of (a) identifying potentially WRC-MSHCP/
Surprises rule, the Federal Register serious problems promptly and (b) Federal Register 63:8869.
article suggests possible opportunities collecting the depth and breadth of
for the federal government to share the information required to avoid or
increased costs that would be remedy serious problems through true
associated with intensifying Cactus adaptive management.
Wren recovery efforts: “Also, nothing
in this final rule prevents the
1 ROBB HAMILTON is a consulting
Services from asking a permittee to DeSante, D. F., Pyle, P., and
voluntarily undertake additional Kaschube. D. 2003. The 2003 Annual biologist who has worked in and
mitigation on behalf of affected Report of the Monitoring Avian around Orange County for 20 years.
species. While an HCP permittee Productivity and Survivorship He was a member of the Nature
who has been implementing the HCP (MAPS) Program at the Nature Reserve of Orange County's original
and permit terms and conditions in Reserve Of Orange County. Report Technical Advisory Committee and
good faith would not be obligated to dated 30 September 2003 prepared for has worked as a consultant to the
provide additional mitigation, the Nature Reserve of Orange County. Reserve on various aspects of bird
2 monitoring. He has co-authored two
Services believe that many Hamilton, R. A. 2004. Target
landowners would be willing to Bird Monitoring Study, Nature books: Birds of Orange County:
consider additional conservation Reserve of Orange County, 2004. Status and Distribution and Rare
assistance on a voluntary basis if a Report dated 3 November 2004 Birds of California.
compelling argument for assistance prepared for Nature Reserve of
could be made.”12 Orange County. Statistical analysis by
Martha White, Ph. D., and Karen
Tacitly acknowledged in the Messer, Ph. D.
above-quoted passage is the notion Bontrager, D. R., Erickson, R. A.,
that the federal government is and Hamilton, R. A. 1995. Impacts of
seldom the only entity with a vital the October 1993 Laguna Fire on
interest in the success of a given California Gnatcatchers and Cactus
HCP. This is the first opportunity for Wrens. Pp. 69–76 in Brushfires in
the NROC and its Board of Directors California Wildlands: Ecology and
to prove that the NCCP/HCP for Resource Management. J. E. Keeley and
central and coastal Orange County T. Scott (eds). International Association
can achieve its central conservation Wildland Fire, Fairfield, WA.
goals even when populations of an Harmsworth Associates. 2002.
Identified Species fail to thrive Final California Gnatcatcher and
according to plan. Many people and coastal Cactus Wren monitoring
institutions have worked long and report for the San Joaquin Hills burn
hard to bring this plan to fruition; area 2001. Report dated January 2002
nobody wants to see it fail. prepared for Nature Reserve of
Orange County.
My final point is cautionary. As
new conservation accords are
contemplated, such as the one that NCCP%20Parts%20I%20&%20II%2
Audubon California and other groups 0-%20Plan.pdf
recently signed at Tejon Ranch, it will
be important for the negotiating daptiveManagement/documents.html

November/December 2008 E7
My Patch
The Birds of Villa Venetia in Marina del Rey

Great Blue Herons of Villa Venetia in Marina del Rey,

Great Blue Herons Nest Building,
Photos by Leah Walton
Photo by Leah Walton

magine Great Blue Herons facing off with a dozen or more

it had fallen unfledged from its nest. I
nesting in palm trees just agitated adult herons protecting their captured the young bird from behind
beyond your bedroom unhatched eggs and hatchlings. after cornering it by placing one hand
windows. Picture Black-crowned around the nape of its neck and the
Night-Heron adults and their young Set at the seaward-most extent of other around its unforgettably
foraging in your yard beside a Fiji Way, at the end of a peninsula powerful legs. The experience left a
swimming pool. And a Barn separating Ballona Creek from the deep, lasting impression.
Swallow swooping down to skim dredged Marina del Rey channel, my
water from the pool’s surface before apartment complex is located less I have occasionally seen
disappearing toward nearby ocean than three hundred yards from the Cooper’s Hawk in my yard. Twice a
waters. Imagine hearing a husky open waters of the Pacific. The Sharp-shinned Hawk has appeared,
warbler chip just seconds before a complex sits on filled wetlands and in both instances alighting atop a
Common Yellowthroat drops from is separated from other still swimming pool umbrella, from
the olive tree near your bedroom (partially) functioning wetlands by a where it surveyed the yard. My yard
window to the ground, not 15 feet bike path on one side and by Ballona is typically teeming with sparrows
from the night-herons. Creek on another side. Within the and finches when these accipiters
Ballona Valley, the Villa Venetia show up probably looking for a meal.
Welcome to my yard at the Villa grounds are geospatially unique.
Venetia Apartments in Marina del Rey Partly as a result of the features just Not surprisingly, having a
where I have lived the last nineteen described that make its location so swimming pool in such a setting is
years. The four bird species just unusual, there are few other places in asking for trouble. Female Mallards
described, along with several others, the entire Ballona Valley watershed have regularly led their chicks from
have all appeared in my yard over that attract such a broad diversity of nests in the nearby wetlands to the
recent weeks, sometimes avian species. pool. There they have taught their
simultaneously. Also, for the first young pool exit strategies and how
time this breeding season, Double- White-tailed Kites nested in a pine to dive. In most Mallard families of
crested Cormorants, four pairs of tree at the Villa Venetia Apartments in any size, there is typically one
them, nested in the same Monterey 2002. The pine tree stands in the duckling that refuses to dive.
Cypress trees that support other Great shadow of the Great Blue Predictably the mother eventually
Blue Heron nests at the Villa Venetia Heron/cormorant nesting trees. The gets on top of her difficult charge
Apartments. Over the years, Red- adult Kites raised three young that and forces the youngster under water
tailed Hawks, when circling these year. I rescued one of the young from by pressing it downward with her
same trees, have found themselves a neighboring apartment patio where neck and bill.

E8 Western Tanager
The swimming pool is often feet from where I now write. A few (and elsewhere, in the marina,
filled with guano not only from the springs past, a Lazuli Bunting passed Snowy Egret and Black-crowned
annual Mallard female with chicks through the yard. Night-Heron) nesting. Over time, I
occupying it but also, in the months hope to further convince the Coastal
preceding her appearance, from a Until recent years, a Black Scoter Commissioners that the overall
gaggle of bad boy male Mallards or two would sit in the marina channel geospatial uniqueness and
who hang together at and near the less than fifty feet from the Villa remarkable biodiversity of the Villa
pool while the females are tending Venetia swimming pool. Western and Venetia location should become the
their nests. Various gull species also Clarks Grebes have replaced the basis of their ESHA designation, and
appreciate the fresh water drink the wintering scoters now, along with an that all of the Villa Venetia grounds
pool provides and love to float on its occasional Red-breasted Merganser. I therefore, and not just the heron nest
surface while taking bathroom have also recently photographed as supporting trees, should be declared
breaks. No pool side gathering of many as 14 Great and Snowy Egrets an ESHA.
avian miscreants however would loafing together on the jetty rocks just
seem quite complete without Brown ashore of where this marina channel There are, however, significant
Pelicans, who intermittently appear connects with the Villa Venetia grounds. Los Angeles County and developer
at the pool’s edge, staring toward its pressures to scrape the Villa Venetia
waters, with no apparent reason for In January, 2008, the California premises clean and to replace the
being there. Coastal Commission made a finding existing 3-story apartment buildings
that the tree stands supporting heron with a 13- story condominium
Migration usually brings surprises nesting and roosting at the Villa complex. These pressures, which
to my yard. Five years ago, a Venetia Apartments (and at other have been successfully opposed for a
Summer Tanager appeared in one of marina localities) are an decade, have nevertheless resulted in
the (Washingtonian) palm trees near Environmentally Sensitive Habitat repeated removal and degradation of
the poolside. Spring of 2007, brought Area or (ESHA). The Coastal nesting and roosting habitat at Villa
a Wilson’s Warbler to the edge of my Commission based their finding Venetia, mainly involving excessive
porch overlooking the pool, not seven mainly on the occurrence of Heron tree trimming and nest destruction.
But the birds in general have rebuilt
their nests in the degraded trees and
are not budging. Furthermore, birds
have on the whole increased their use
of the Villa Venetia habitat over
recent years. The avian diversity and
most species counts especially have
increased over the last 10 years. So
the very best to the birds of Villa
Venetia, my back yard birds. For their
habitat to survive, they will need all
the help from us they can get.

—by David De Lange, PhD

Vice President
Los Angeles Audubon

White-tailed Kite, “Arnold Small Photographic Collection,

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County”

November/December 2008 E9
I n t e r p r e t i n g N a t u r e
involved in our programs in the
Baldwin Hills…

—Stacey Vigallon,
Director of Interpretation
Though seemingly unrelated, I hope
my passions for both film and
environmental science mix in an effort to
break the cycle of misinformation
regarding the environment. I plan to act
as a vanguard of environmental
awareness and empathy. One day I intend
to motivate the general public into
mobilizing and reversing our negative
effect on this planet. Through both film
and the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse
Program I intend to increase
environmental awareness within my local
community and eventually the world.
Students in the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Internship Program
remove ice plant from a hillside at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Park. Growing up in inner city Oakland,
his summer, 12 students the upcoming role they will play in

California, my experience with nature
from Dorsey High School the restoration of the Baldwin Hills was limited to the sidewalk weeds until
participated in restoration and the positive impact they will have my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Abar, took
ecology training programs in the on the surrounding community. our entire class camping in the
Baldwin Hills, a joint project Redwood Regional Forest. We hiked
between Los Angeles Audubon and In the last issue we heard from about 10 miles wearing 30 lb packs. I
Earthworks Restoration (funded by Rosemary Virula, a Dorsey graduate was mesmerized. We saw a banana
the Baldwin Hills Conservancy and a now attending CSU Northridge and slug, deer, snakes, streams, and even a
grant from National Audubon’s currently our Interpretation Intern. fleeting glimpse of a mountain lion.
“TogetherGreen” program). This issue we’ll hear from Chris This personal interaction with nature
Simmons, a student participating in continued through middle school and I
After an intensive application the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse enjoyed more hikes into the Redwood
process last May, we selected five Internship Program. Now in his Forest where I learned about the water
students to participate in the Baldwin senior year at Dorsey High School cycle and to how read pH levels. And
Hills Greenhouse Internship Program, and looking toward college, Chris is the older I became, the more I engaged
and seven for the Restoration a scholar-athlete: he is currently with nature, from canoeing in the San
Leadership Program. In August and captain of the wrestling team, a Francisco Estuary to spending a
September these students learned participant in Dorsey’s Film weekend at a conservation retreat
about coastal sage scrub ecology, bird Production Program, and is a UC learning how wildlife has adapted to the
identification, invasive plant species, Berkeley Incentive Awards Program San Francisco Peninsula after
and orienteering with map, compass, Scholar. What follows is Chris’s “demilitarization.” These transformative
and GPS. Throughout the duration of perspective on how he would like to events guided me towards
the school year, students will conduct integrate his diverse interests in a environmental conservation.
research at the Baldwin Hills way that aids the cause of
greenhouse, help remove invasive conservation. Again, we hope this Since the ninth grade at Susan
plants and replace them with natives, student’s essay helps you to Miller Dorsey High, I have been a part
and serve as leaders in their school understand the inner-city experience of many programs. In my junior year I
and community. We are excited about and that it inspires you to get joined Dorsey’s Global Warriors Eco-

E10 Western Tanager

Club, and through it I was introduced serves as a great example of on the work of ecologists, filmmakers,
to the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse community service by students, and and environmental pioneers around
Internship. Since the internship’s represents a prime example of what the world.
Greenhouse Boot Camp I learned the film can do to expose people to the
negative effect that invasive species, world around them. In 10 years, I see the Baldwin Hills
such as ice plant, can have on an becoming a model of environmental
ecosystem and how to deal with it. In Film can challenge how people awareness and ecological sensitivity
addition to learning about local think. Consider Al Gore’s An within the city of Los Angeles and even
wildlife, both native and introduced, I Inconvenient Truth and its influence the world. I see it repopulated with
learned about the local ecology and the on the general public and native plants and animal species like
roles various organisms, from people to environmental policy. Though it costal sage shrub, prickly pear cactus,
plants to animals, play within their wasn’t the first film about California Gnatcatchers, and the
community. I believe that because we environmental awareness, people Cactus Wren. While film can initiate
interns have learned so much about the related to its urgency and began this change for many, so can the work
environment we will play an integral making changes. People generally do of people within the community.
part in the fight to save it. Not only not react to something unless it is Neighbors can become
that, but myself and the other interns personal. Showing environmental conservationists and we can perpetuate
have gained real world experiences in catastrophes in our backyards the transition into a more ecologically
conservation ecology and science that amplified the message of awareness aware community.
almost none of our peers have had. In and action. Film is a unique apparatus
comparatively short time we have in that it reaches a broad audience
—Chris Simmons,
learned how to do environmental through a blend of images, sounds,
Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Intern
research, cultivate plants, cast tracks, and words. A film can reach the shores
and even recognize birds simply by of distant nations, and so will the
their calls. message of that director. Through my
knowledge of film and the
One wonders how film and the environment I hope to emphasize
environment are interrelated, but it’s as action to restore our planet and build
simple as finding a piece of the
environment and filming it. As part of
the Dorsey Film Production Program
for what will be my second year, I am
committed to making well-crafted
films. that educate and motivate
viewers to take action. I am proud to
say that our film program has already
taken a step in that direction with our
project, “Sharing the Beach with
Western Snowy Plovers.” We worked
with Los Angeles Audubon to create a
public service announcement regarding
the Western Snowy Plover, a once
plentiful species that is now federally
threatened as a result of human activity.
Creating this film was a team effort,
and we were very excited to be
recognized for our efforts by the
California State Assembly in July 2008
at Audubon Film Fridays. Our film Students in the Restoration Leadership Program learn how to use a compass and get a
great view of the city from the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Park.
November/December 2008 E11
—by Stacey Vigallon and
Volunteer Corner Eleanor Osgood

SNOWY PLOVER DOCENTS NEEDED! I love the outdoors, nature and all of the creatures that
share this planet with us, well almost all. I could do with
s we have mentioned in past issues, we are out centipedes (although, chickens wouldn't agree with

A developing a Snowy Plover Docent Program.

We need enthusiastic volunteers willing to help
educate beach-goers of all ages about plover conservation and
me - to them, they are their equivalent to our Häagan
Dazs Ice Cream). Well, when I remarried and sold my
house on 19 acres in the lush subtropical jungle of Maui,
sandy beach ecology. Docents will lead groups on tours of Hawaii and moved to Los Angeles, I felt like a fish out
Snowy Plover roosting sites and take detailed behavioral data of water. That is until I started looking for the nature that
on plovers during the fall and winter months. If you are surrounds us even in the cement jungles of the big city. I
interested in participating, please contact Stacey Vigallon. joined Los Angeles Audubon and started discovering the, (323) 481-4037 local parks, deserts and mountains that are full of flowers,
wild life and birds.
In this and subsequent “Volunteer Corner” features,
we plan to let our volunteers do some of the talking. I was asked if I would be interested in monitoring the
Learn first-hand what sparked their interest and what Snowy Plovers on the Dockweiler Beach and jumped at
their volunteer experience has been like. First up is the chance to become involved. And I am so happy that
Georgianna Dryer, who has been a dedicated volunteer I did! I fell in love with those cute little birds, which
for both Snowy Plover and Least Tern monitoring unless I was out there with my binoculars looking for
programs this past year… them, I would have walked right over them just like I
have observed so many other beach goers doing. It
amazes me that people walking or jogging the beach
will go right through a group of Snowy Plovers and not
even see them. I want to shout..."Look, look, see how
cute. See what your are missing. See what we might all
miss if we don't protect them!" —Georgianna Dryer

Illustration by Stacey Vigallon

E12 Western Tanager

Schreiber Grant Recipients

RESEARCH: NEIGHBOR-STRANGER react more aggressively towards a Anna’s hummingbird males

RECOGNITION IN ANNA’S AND COSTA’S singing stranger than towards a differentiate between conspecific and
HUMMINGBIRDS singing neighbor. Since a territorial heterospecific birds; they respond
bird hears its neighbor singing from more aggressively towards songs of
Hummingbirds, like songbirds, the adjacent territory on a regular their own species. To date, our
learn and sing complex songs. basis, it would be energetically results are inconclusive as to
Whether they also use song to wasteful to continually attack the whether Anna’s males distinguish
recognize individuals, like songbirds singing neighbor. However, an neighbors from strangers, but
do, has not been studied. Our unfamiliar bird poses more of a analysis is ongoing. Our preliminary
research investigates the role of threat, as it may be attempting to results indicate that individual
hummingbird song in individual and take over the male’s territory. Costa’s males vary greatly in their
species recognition using a pair of level of response to playback, but do
sister species: the Anna’s We set out to simulate the not appear to distinguish between
hummingbird (Calypte anna) and the intrusions of neighbor and stranger individuals or species. Costa’s males,
Costa’s hummingbird (Calypte males onto the territories of Anna’s therefore, do not appear to be using
costae). and Costa’s males, so that we could song as a signal for species or
measure the males’ responses to individual recognition. The
The two species within the these different stimuli. We worked differences we are finding in the way
Calypte genus have songs that are mainly in desert scrub habitat in both that Costa’s and Anna’s
quite different from each other. The Anza Borrego State Park, CA, and hummingbirds respond to territorial
whistled song of the male Costa’s the Boyd Deep Canyon Research intrusions indicate that song may
hummingbird is relatively simple Center near Palm Desert, CA. We indeed function differently in these
compared to the multi-syllabic, also worked with Anna’s two sister species.
broadband male Anna’s hummingbirds at the San Joaquin
hummingbird song (see attached Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, CA.
spectrographs). We wondered if For each territorial male, we played —by Schreiber Grant Recipients:
these structural differences mirrored back previously recorded songs of a Carina Castro & Bethany Williams,
functional differences in the song of neighbor, a stranger, a competitor of Houtman Lab,
Department of Biological Sciences,
these two species. a different species (either Costa’s or
California State University
Anna’s hummingbird) and a non- Fullerton
The traditional approach to competitor of a different species
studying individual recognition in (House Finch). We measured the
songbirds is a “neighbor-stranger” males’ aggressive responses to the
playback experiment. This type of playback, such as amount of time
experiment operates on the spent singing and closest approach to
assumption that a territorial bird will the playback speakers.

November/December 2008 E13

birds of the season —by Jon Fisher

Autumn does not officially arrive in an effort to prevent treated numbers of passerines passing
until September 22, but fortunately, wastewater from entering Rosamond through the county starting right
southbound ‘fall’ migrants Dry Lake. For some time now, these after July. Even a few low-end
completely disregard that fact. ponds have been a rich wetland vagrants had turned up by early
Otherwise, it would be a long, hot habitat. The ponds are not only for August. As expected, things started
and rather uneventful summer… at finding shorebirds: waterfowl and to heat up as we approached the
least for birders. To the average waders thrive here as well and the middle of September, with a sudden
resident of Los Angeles County area attracts migrant passerines in spike in vagrants and an increasing
migration is all but invisible; but for spring and fall. Since it takes more flow of regular southbound migrants.
the dedicated observers who were effort to travel to and gain access to
out looking, there were plenty of these ponds, they are not as well As is typical, there was quite a
birds on the move and enough covered as the LA River. One bit of variety from mid-July to mid-
vagrants to make things interesting. wonders what they would produce if September…
subjected to the same intense and
Shorebirds were much in near daily coverage. Interesting waterfowl were
evidence as usual, with numbers of virtually non-existent, but an out of
expected species and a few of the Though these two locations season Lesser Scaup at Colorado
‘rare but regular’ also found-- the together produce the largest Lagoon in Long Beach on August 12
majority of them in the county’s two concentrations of shorebirds and are was notable (Robb Hamilton).
great shorebird magnets. consistent in producing rarities, there
are many other places to look. The Very rare, and earlier than the few
With virtually all of our coastal LA River stretches for miles and there previous records would lead us to
wetlands obliterated by human are many other spots along its path expect, was a Manx Shearwater that
development, the concrete lined that attract birds. Any drainage was seen from Pt. Vicente on August 4
lower LA River has become-- channel of significant size and most of (Mike San Miguel).
improbable, as it might seem-- the our flood control basins also hold
one coastal location that offers shorebirds given the right conditions. A few Brown Pelicans wandered
southbound shorebirds an extensive Old favorites the Ballona Wetlands away from the coast. A juvenile was at
and valuable habitat. On almost any and Malibu Lagoon always have Sepulveda Basin from August 9-16
day from July through September, potential as do portions of the San (Jon Fisher) and another was at Bonelli
thousands of birds use the river as a Gabriel River and the Lancaster Park in San Dimas from August 17-
resting and feeding stopover. As a Sewer Ponds—home of southern September 13 (Andrew Lee). Two
bonus, it’s very accessible from a California’s only record of Gray-tailed others were at Harbor Regional Park in
birding perspective. Tattler in 1981. I suspect only birders Wilmington in mid-August-- much
could swoon over sewer ponds. closer to the coast but still away from
The desert has its own man- where they are expected.
made wetland. The Piute Ponds on While shorebirds are most of the
Edwards Air Force Base were story from July through early Raptors included an early
initially created almost 50 years ago September, there were also small Northern Harrier in the Ballona area

E14 Western Tanager

on August 17-18 (Roy van de Hoek). one reported there was on August 23 Gulls and terns included a
Meanwhile, there were two reports of (Richard Barth). The first at the Piute Sabine’s Gull-- a rare transient
single early Swainson’s Hawks Ponds were two juveniles on August inland-- at the Lancaster Sewer Ponds
passing through in August with one at 11 (Jon Feenstra, Janet Cupples, Liga on August 30 (Susan Steele). A
Eaton Canyon in Pasadena on August Auzins). A good find was a Common Tern was at Ballona on
17 (Hill Penfold) and another over Semipalmated on the LA River in July 24-25 (Jonathan Coffin) and
Claremont the following day (Tom Glendale-- away from the typical another was well inland at Bonelli
Miko). Unexpected, and a real rarity shorebird hotspots-- on September 10 Regional Park on September 9
in the county, was a Broad-winged (Jim Hardesty) (Andrew Lee). A lone Black Tern on
Hawk flying over Bonelli Regional the lower LA River on July 20
Park in San Dimas on September 13 The first Baird’s Sandpiper (Richard Barth) was the only report
(Andrew Lee). reported was at the Piute Ponds on away from the deserts.
August 3, followed by two there on
The fall's first Merlin was along August 11 (both Jon Feenstra). The There were only a few reports of
the San Gabriel River in Duarte on first lower LA River birds were two or alcids. A Pigeon Guillemot was at
September 13 (Ron Cyger). three on August 17 (Jon Fisher, Mark Pt. Dume on August 17 (Kimball
Scheel, Tom Wurster). Multiple Garrett) and Common Murres were
Waders of note included a Baird’s were being seen regularly on in the Ballona Channel in Playa del
continuing Little Blue Heron at the river from mid-August through the Rey on September 9 (Christopher
Ballona, which was seen through July end of the period. Elsewhere, the Taylor) and at Pt. Vicente on
21, and a Cattle Egret at Malibu Lancaster Sewer Ponds hosted two September 13 (Mike San Miguel).
Lagoon on August 8 (Michael Zarky). Baird’s on August 21 (Tom Miko) and
six of them on August 30 (Susan A few dispersing Lesser
The first Solitary Sandpiper of the Steele). Also of note were single Nighthawks were reported with the
fall was on the lower LA River on July Baird’s at Pepperdine University most noteworthy being one on the
28 (Richard Barth). A half dozen more Ponds from August 25-27 (Heather UCLA Campus on August 4 (Linda
were found there between August 14 and Medvitz), on the Rio Hondo in El Navroth). Another was on the move
September 10. Away from the river, Monte on August 31 (Larry Schmahl) over Altadena-- closer to known
Solitaries were on the Rio Hondo in El and at Malibu Lagoon on September 7 breeding sites-- on August 18 (Will
Monte on August 13 and at Bonelli Park (James Kenney). Fulmer), while a third was over
in San Dimas on August 17 (both Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills on
Andrew Lee) while two others were The season’s first Pectoral September 5 (Raymond Schep).
along Ballona Creek on September 7 Sandpiper was found at Malibu
(Michael Zarky, Ron Batie). Lagoon on September 5 (James Rare in summer was a single
Kenney). Right on its heels was one Chimney Swift seen multiple times
A Stilt Sandpiper on the LA on the LA River in Paramount on along the lower LA River between July
River on July 12 (Karen Gilbert, Jeff September 9 (Richard Barth), with the 17 and August 23 (Jeff Boyd, Kevin
Boyd) was followed by a second on same or a third one there on the Larson); another was recorded at
July 26-27 (Tom Wurster). Despite September 11. Harbor Regional Park in Wilmington
this promising start, there was nothing on September 12 (Brian Daniels).
to match the peak of the invasion last Good numbers of phalaropes-- 400
fall when a dozen were found in a Wilson’s Phalaropes and 75 Red-necked Two separate reports of a White-
single day in early September. Phalaropes-- were at the Lancaster Sewer winged Dove at Pt. Dume on August 3
Ponds on August 3. A week later, the sewer and August 17 were likely of the same
The season’s first Semipalmated ponds hosted over 1000 Wilson’s individual (Ken Corey, Kimball Garrett).
Sandpiper was on the lower LA Phalaropes (Jon Feenstra). Also of interest The only other report was of two at Pt.
River on July 31 (Richard Barth) and was a concentration of over 30 Red-necked Vicente on September 13 (Bill Cullen).
two were present in the same area on Phalaropes on Ballona Creek from
August 2 (Kimball Garrett). The last September 6-8 (Roy van de Hoek).

November/December 2008 E15

A Gray Flycatcher at Bonelli Park Unusual parulids were few in headed Blackbird along the lower
on August 24 and seen through number but included two Lucy’s LA River on September 13 constituted
September 13 was almost certainly a Warblers; one at DeForest Park in the only report thus far (Dany Sloan).
returning bird that spent last winter Long Beach on August 9 (Karen
here (Andrew Lee). Two more Grays Gilbert, Jeff Boyd) and another at the After mid September, the game
turned up on September 13 with one Eaton Canyon flood basin in Pasadena will be on in earnest, with greater
in Duarte (Ron Cyger) and the other on August 24 (Tom Wurster, Liga numbers of land bird migrants and
at the Eaton Canyon Flood Basin in Auzins). A Virginia’s Warbler was newly arriving wintering birds
Pasadena (Linda Navroth). also at DeForest Park in Long Beach making for even greater diversity.
on September 4 (Karen Gilbert, Jeff While it has obviously already
A juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher Boyd) and another was at Banning begun, vagrant season too will reach
was at Madrona Marsh in Torrance on Park in Wilmington on September 12 its peak. With any luck, what we
September 4 indicating possible (Brian Daniels). Also of note were a have seen thus far is just a teaser for
breeding locally (Dave Moody). Black-and-white Warbler at Harbor what’s to come in the latter half of
Regional Park on September 12 (Brian September through October. Just as
A Bell’s Vireo pair was along the Daniels) and an American Redstart I am finishing this column, there is a
San Gabriel River near San Jose Creek, found at Legg Lake in South El Monte report of a Bluethroat found on San
in appropriate habitat but away from on September 13 (Jon Feenstra). Clemente Island. When it comes to
known breeding sites, on August 6 vagrants, the possibilities are always
(Mike San Miguel). Migrant Bell’s The Summer Tanager pair wide open and intriguing.
Vireos are rarely recorded, but single present since May 25 at the Rancho
birds were found at DeForest Park in Santa Ana Botanic Garden in All too soon most of our
Long Beach on August 9 (Karen Claremont eventually produced an migrants will have gone and it will be
Gilbert, Jeff Boyd) and at the Eaton unusual breeding record when they time to start thinking about Christmas
Canyon flood basin in Pasadena on were observed feeding two juveniles Counts, putting on a jacket for those
August 24 (Tom Wurster, Liga Auzins). on July 27 (Tom Miko). More early morning birding trips and
expected were two migrant Summer searching out whatever unusual
One of the best finds so far this Tanagers that turned up in early lingering birds autumn migration left
fall, was the county's sixth confirmed September. One was at Kenneth Hahn behind. No matter what the season,
Yellow-green Vireo at DeForest Park Park on September 6 (Ann Brooks) there are always new birds right
on September 11-12 (Karen Gilbert, and the other was at the Village Green around the corner.
Jeff Boyd). It was seen by many Condominiums in Los Angeles on
birders over its brief two-day stay, but September 8 (Don Sterba).
then apparently moved on.
A Northern Cardinal was at Errata
A female Purple Martin on the Hansen Dam on July 12 (Kimball
LA River near DeForest Park in Long Garrett). With small-established In the Western Tanager, Vol. 75,
Beach on September 12 (Richard populations in the Whittier Narrows Number 1, September/October 2008
Barth) was the only one reported. area and now one at the Sepulveda article "The Quaking Aspen Owl
Basin, determining the origin of these Prowl, July 3-6, 2008"; it should be
Single Bank Swallows were birds is somewhat problematic, corrected in paragraph 1, that
found on the lower LA River on though it is virtually certain that these Quaking Aspen Campground is east
August 2 (Kimball Garrett) with wanderers are escapees. of Porterville (not west). In paragraph
another seen there on August 23 (Ed 8, the description of the Spotted Owl's
Stonick). Two more were at Piute An early arrival was an adult male call should be changed to "Woh Woh-
Ponds on August 11 (Jon Feenstra, Indigo Bunting at Bonelli Park in Woh WOOOo". This is based upon
Janet Cupples, Liga Auzins). San Dimas seen from August 2-9 evaluating a number of taped calls and
(Andrew Lee). An adult Bobolink at from my personal experience.
A Horned Lark, quite rare coastally, Piute Ponds on August 11 was also Apparently, "Who cooks for you" has
was seen near Pepperdine University in quite early (Jon Feenstra, Janet been used by some to describe a
Malibu on August 27 (Dan Cooper). Cupples, Liga Auzins). A Yellow- Barred Owl's call. —Mary Freeman

E16 Western Tanager

—by Garry George

WESTERN SNOWY PLOVERS ON by Audubon volunteers include a invertebrates that inhabit the wrack
DOCKWEILER BEACH GET PROTECTION freshly killed female in a tire track, a (seaweed) that is left on the beach.
FROM LA COUNTY! steep decline in the wintering The longest side, parallel to the
populations in LA County, and ocean, will be 300 feet long, with
Los Angeles County Beaches & evidence of “scrapes” as the first sides of 100 feet at each end. The
Harbors have agreed to protect possible breeding attempts since fence will be monitored by biologists
Western Snowy Plovers on 1949. In their 2007 annual report, from Ryan Ecological Consulting as
Dockweiler State Beach! The Audubon and Ryan Ecological well as volunteers from Audubon, and
decision was made after a four-hour Consulting have recommended that Los Angeles Audubon with help from
meeting arranged by the County Los Angeles County provide fencing a grant from USFWS to assist this
agency with Los Angeles Audubon, protections for the plovers due to outreach program that will include
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Los disturbance from beach grooming, docents to interact with beachgoers
Angeles Planning Commission, Los beach vehicles, recreation, dog and explain the need for the
Angeles Fire Department Lifeguards, walking and other human activities. protections, and to educate the public
Commissioners Sara Wan and The 2007 report with maps and on Western Snowy Plover. Stacey
William Burke of the California information on the Snowy Plover Vigallon will create and administer
Coastal Commission and Tom Ryan Project are available on the outreach program for Los Angeles
of Ryan Ecological Consulting. under Audubon with our partners Santa
Endangered Species on the Main Monica Bay and Palos Verdes/South
The agreement is a result of two Menu. Bay Audubons.
years of monitoring of Western
Snowy Plovers on Los Angeles The coastal population of Western Additionally, Dockweiler State
County beaches by volunteers from Snowy Plover was listed as a Beach has been included in the
three Audubon chapters – Los federally threatened species under the mapped area of the Ballona Valley
Angeles, Santa Monica Bay and Palos Endangered Species Act in 1993. The Important Bird Area by Audubon
Verdes/South Bay. The monitoring U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service California, which also includes the
project, which continues yearly designated portions of Dockweiler Least Tern colony on Venice Beach,
thanks to grant funding by U.S. Fish State Beach as critical habitat for the and now qualifies for increased
& Wildlife Service and California recovery of the Snowy Plover. The protections from the state office of
Fish & Game Office of Spill fencing will be placed inside that National Audubon.
Prevention and Response, is led by critical habitat zone.
biologist Tom Ryan of Ryan Thanks to Stacey, Tom, and all
Ecological Consulting, with Volunteer The fencing at Dockweiler State the volunteers for the Snowy Plover
Coordination by Los Angeles Beach will be three sided and open to project who made this important
Audubon’s Director of Interpretation the ocean so that the plovers can have conservation milestone happen.
Stacey Vigallon. Observations made easy access to feed on the insects and

November/December 2008 E17

The Membership Department wishes to thank all of our members and donors,
thank You! both new and renewed! Your memberships help us to fulfill our mission...

The mission of Los Angeles Audubon is to promote the enjoyment and protection of birds and other wildlife
through recreation, education, conservation and restoration.”
Sandra Albers Jennifer Jones Gary Wallen
Yvonne C. Arias Marion L. Joy George R. White DDS
Nicholas Armstrong Paul & Virginia Kubic John Willis
Karl Bouvier Arthur Langton Irwin Woldman
Louis Brinker Anna Marie Bovill Lea
Ed & Marnell Bruce Kasi McMurray Lifetime Members
Eileen Burton Hope Nathan Mary Semski
Ann Cavalieri Paul Nelson
Dixie L. Cleary Sydney Newell Breeding Bird Atlas Donors
Buford Crites Drew Pallette Mary & Nick Freeman
Joanne Glazer Joan L. Roach
Ola Jane Gow Judy & Robert Scharff We thank the following who made
Dr. Charles R. Hamilton Julie and Gabe Sende heartfelt donations in honor of
David K. Hensley Suzanne Siegel loved ones:
Michael Hersh and Deborah Myers Catriona J Simms
Jeri & Richard Hughes Jason A. Stuck In Memory of Herb Clarke
Mr. William Johnston Tanis Sugden & Lisa Mark Mary Semski

Headquarters and Nature Store



Our regular Headquarters and Nature

Store hours are:
Monday through Thursday
9:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

We will be OPEN the following

Saturdays between 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM.
November 1, 2008 N10446 $26.00 N12489 $29.95
December 6, 2008
This new book combines the Peterson Field Birdwatcher is a comprehensive,
December 13, 2008
Guide to Eastern Birds and the Peterson illustrated biography of Roger Tory
December 20, 2008 Field Guide to Western Birds in one volume, Peterson—a hero in the conservation
January 3, 2009 filled with accessible, concise information world—including interviews with friends,
and including almost three hours of video family, and protégés.
We will be CLOSED the following days: podcasts to make bird watching even easier.
● 40 new paintings “A wonderful biography, bold and
● Digital updates to Peterson’s original surprising and lively, crackling with the
Thursday, November 27, 2008
paintings adventures of the man who did more than
Wednesday, December 24, 2008 ● All new maps for the most up-to-date anyone else to create the modern
Thursday, December 25, 2008 range information available popularity of birdwatching.” -Kenn
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 ● Text rewritten to cover the United States Kaufman, author of The Kaufman Field
Thursday, January 1, 2009 and Canada in one guide Guide to Birds of North America
● Range maps on every spread

18 Western Tanager
Bird Walks —November/December
Sunday, November 9 3rd Saturday of the month
Bird Walks are geared for the
Upper Franklin Canyon Saturday, November 15
beginner/intermediate looking for
(Sooky Goldberg Nature Center), Leaders: Eric and Ann Brooks
an introduction to local birds or
Beverly Hills Saturday, December 20
a less strenuous excursion. Time: 9:00 a.m. Leader - TBA
Appropriate for young bird Leader: Eleanor Osgood Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
watchers age 8 years and older. Join us as we walk around the ponds Time: 8:00 a.m.
Binoculars are provided on some in this urban oak woodland nature This trip covers landscaped
walks as noted below. preserve. We are guaranteed to see parkland, a lake and natural coastal
the resident Wood Ducks and scrub habitats and is paced for
1st Sunday of every month chaparral bird species such as beginning birders and members of
Sunday, November 2 California Quail, Spotted and the Baldwin Hills community. Come
Sunday, December 14 California Towhees, California look for migrating warblers and
Topanga State Park Birdwalk Thrasher. Also, expect to see some returning sparrows and ducks along
Leaders: Ken Wheeland and Chris migrating songbirds and flycatchers. with the resident birds. The park
Tosdevin This canyon is a hidden treasure entrance is off of La Cienega Blvd.
Time: 8:00 a.m. where the surrounding urban between Rodeo Rd. and Stocker St.
Ken and Chris will lead participants residences of Sherman Oaks and After passing the entrance kiosk
through this beautiful and diverse Beverly Hills disappear from view. ($4.00 parking fee) turn left (leading
coastal mountain area. An ideal trip Meet in the parking lot of the Sooky to the “Olympic Forest”) and park in
for a beginning birder or someone Goldberg Nature Center and bird for the first available spaces.
new to the area. From Ventura Blvd, a few hours in the cool of native trees Binoculars provided.
take Topanga Canyon Blvd 7 miles and ponds.
S. Turn E uphill on Entrada Rd. Directions: From the 101 Freeway, 3rd Sunday of the month,
Follow the signs and turn left into take Coldwater Canyon Blvd. south August through May
Trippet Ranch parking lot. From to the intersection of Coldwater Sunday, November 16
Pacific Coast Hwy, take Topanga Canyon and Mulholland Drive. Make Sunday, December 21
Canyon Blvd. 5 miles to Entrada Rd. a 90 degree right turn onto Franklin Ballona Wetlands Bird Walk
Parking fee. Canyon Drive. There is no sign Leaders: Bob Shanman and Friends
Contacts: Ken: (310) 455-1401, indicating the entrance to the park. Time: 8:00 a.m.; The turn at Franklin Canyon Road Join us for a walk through L.A.’s only
Chris: (310) 455-1270 reads “Road Closed 800 Feet” and remaining saltwater marsh and the
“Sunrise to Sunset.” This is the park adjacent rocky jetty. Wintering
entrance. Do not make a U-turn-- as shorebirds and terns should be present,
this will take you onto Mulholland plus the resident Black Oystercatchers
Drive instead of Franklin Canyon. frequenting the rocky shores of Ballona
Stay on paved roads to reach the Creek. Meet at the Del Rey Lagoon
Sooky Goldberg Nature Center. From parking lot. Take the Marina Fwy (90)
Please watch our website for our
Sunset: take Coldwater Canyon to to Culver Blvd and turn left for a mile.
upcoming 2009 Pelagic schedule.
Mulholland Dr. Turn right on Turn right on Pacific Ave. The lot is on
The first trip will be on Saturday,
Mulholland. Make right turn onto the right. Lot or street parking is
February 28th. Going to the Palos
Franklin Canyon Dr. (refer to usually not a problem. Three hour
Verdes Escarpment on the boat
directions from 101 Freeway). walk. Scopes helpful.
“Pacific Adventure”. The trip departs
Binoculars provided. Contact: Bob (310) 326-2473;
from Ports-of-Call in San Pedro. $70

November/December 2008 E19

Sunday, December 14
fie ld t ri p s & C h r i s tm a s B i r d Co u nts Malibu Christmas Bird Count
Contact compiler Larry Allen
(626) 288-2701 or email
FIELD TRIPS often require more time or effort than Bird Walks, and delve to participate.
more deeply into identification, natural histories and interactions observed in Saturday, December 20
the field. All are welcome on either type of trip. Reserve per directions in the Lancaster Christmas Bird Count
gray boxon the next page. No pets or small children, please. Contact compiler Nick Freeman
(818) 247-6172 or email
Saturday, November 1 Sunday, November 30 – to be placed on a team or be given an area.
Oxnard Plain West Antelope Valley Raptors and
Leader: Larry Allen Other Wintering Birds. LOS ANGELES BASIN
Meet at the Hueneme sod fields at Leader Jean Brandt, will lead us CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
8:00 a.m. to look over the American from Quail Lake east across the Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009
Pipits for the Red-throated variety, as Antelope Valley. Ferruginous Hawk Meeting place (optional): 7:00 a.m. and 1
well as longspurs. Golden-Plovers are and Prairie Falcon likely. Wear warm p.m., Rancho Park, north entrance on Motor
just south of Pico.
also possible. There may be eastern clothing, bring lunch, and have a full Compilation dinner: TBD
vagrants to chase. Mugu estuary, tank of gas. Meet at Denny’s at 6:45 Participation fee:
Sycamore Canyon, and local tamarisk AM to carpool. Take 405N to $5.00 (to National Audubon Society.)
stands are also possibilities. From the Roxford in Sylmar. Turn right, then
I am going to be compiling the Los Angeles
101 N, drive S on Las Posas Rd., then right into the Denny’s parking lot. Basin Christmas Bird Count (formerly simply
turn Rt. onto Hueneme Rd. Meet on Trip leaves at 7:00 a.m. sharp. Rain "Los Angeles" CBC) for LAAS this year, and
the N side of Hueneme Rd. about 1 cancels. Scopes and FRS radios want to start by recognizing the hard work of
the previous organizers, Eleanor Osgood,
mile W of PCH, and just before helpful. Nominal donation suggested. Barbara Courtois and Cindy Hardin,
Casper Rd. Bring lunch, scopes particularly in boosting participation and
helpful. Bird 'till we drop. Nominal Saturday, December 13 keeping interest in this count high - thanks!
donation suggested. Newport Back Bay I don't anticipate making any major changes; I'd
Leader: Mary Freeman like to maintain the original subregions which
Sunday, November 23 Meet on the boardwalk along the NW have been used for years, as well as the
Lake Perris Area bay at the “Sharp-tailed Sparrow subregional leaders.

Leader: Howard King Spot” accessible from the end of As in past years, we'll have a centralized
The Little Gulls, Ruddy Ground Dove, University Drive (small street) at meeting place (Rancho Park, near Pico/Motor)
and Least and Vermilion flycatchers of 8:00 a.m. for the 7.1’ high tide, and a where we can gather the morning of the count
to split into teams, and meet back there around
past years may not be back, but surely full day of birding in the area. High 1 pm to see what species are still missing. We
something will take their places! Take tide at the mouth is 8:37 a.m., but will also have a compilation dinner that night
the 10 or 60 Fwy E to the 215 Fwy S, may not peak in the Back Bay until (location TBD).
exit E onto Ramona Expressway, after 9:00 a.m.. Three rails, Nelson’s
While I pull together this information from
continue E just past Perrris Blvd., and Sharp-tailed Sparrow and Short- Eleanor, please drop me a line if you'd like to
meet at the Farmer Boys Restaurant on eared Owl (both rare) will be target participate in any capacity, from being sent out
the S side of the road. Leave from here birds. Eurasian Wigeon, Blue-winged alone to look for target species, to joining a
slow-paced group for a few hours, to helping
at 8:00 a.m.. Bring lunch, warm Teal, California Gnatcatcher, and organize the compilation dinner.
clothing and footwear for possible Bittern expected. Take the 405 Fwy S
mud. Possible entrance fee. Nominal to the 73 Toll Road (free this far) to "Feederwatchers" are also encouraged to
donation suggested. the Campus Dr. exit, which becomes
Bristol St. Turn right on Irvine Ave., And, if you have a traditional area that you and
drive 1.4 miles, then turn left on a your friends have done before, and that you
small street called University Drive. would like to cover again this year, let me know.

Park at the end, walk down the hill, All ages and abilities are welcome!
over the bridge, and to the end of the
boardwalk. Bring lunch. Scopes Dan Cooper
cell: (323) 397-3562
helpful. Nominal donation suggested email:

E20 Western Tanager

Palmdale). Drive into the Park-and-
$ = Fee Event
Ride just to the east of the offramp.
 = SASE $40,  SASE, No limit Meet at 8:00 a.m. at the W end of the
Saturday & Sunday, lot. Bring lunch and a full tank of gas
 SASE, Free, Limit 24 January 17 & 18 – Salton Sea for a full day of splendor in the
Sunday, January 11 – Leaders: Nick and Mary Freeman. alfalfa. No reservation, no fee, no
Seal Beach Yellow-footed Gull, Snow & Ross' SASE. Scopes and FRS radios
Naval Weapons Station Wetlands. geese, Sandhill Cranes, Stilt helpful. Nominal donation suggested.
John Nieto, Nick Freeman and a base Sandpiper, and Gila Woodpecker all
biologist will drive up to 24 lucky hopeful to certain. Fee: $40. $40,  SASE, Limit 14
Los Angeles Audubon and Palos No Limit, but sign up with SASE, Saturday and Sunday,
Verdes Audubon participants around phone, and e-mail info for more January 31 and February 1 –
this prime wetlands site. Wintering details. Meet at 7:00 a.m. Saturday at Carrizo Plain
Pacific Golden-Plover, Mountain the Wister Unit parking lot by the Leaders: Larry Allen & Mary Freeman.
Plover, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed portapottys. This is 5 miles north of Meet at 8 a.m. in Maricopa. Spectacular
Sparrow, Sage Thrasher and Niland where Davis joins Hwy 111. scenery. We will see Ferruginous Hawks,
numerous raptors have been sighted. Calipatria Inn (800) 830-1113 Prairie Falcons, Golden Eagles,
6.9’ high tide at 8:42 a.m.. Mail SASE (leader’s preference) and Brawley Inn LeConte’s Thrasher, Merlin and
to Los Angeles Audubon with e-mail (760) 344-1199 are recommended. pronghorn; with likely Rough-legged
and phone number (phone # FRS radios & 'scopes helpful. Arrive Hawk, Mountain Plover and Sandhill
required) by December 30, so act fed and gassed up, bring lunches, Crane. We will meet in Maricopa, drive
now! Only SASE-confirmed U.S. those who wish will dine together at around the Plain all weekend, then leave
citizens with photo ID will be Calipatria Inn Steak House. the Plain heading north via Bitterwater
allowed on base. No cameras or Road on Sunday before we away to LA.
weapons! Meet at the main public lot Saturday, January 24 – If possible, please carpool or avail your
at 800 Seal Beach Blvd. at 7:30 a.m., East Antelope Valley vehicle to others when you reserve. Your
and bird until noon. Take Seal Beach Leaders: Stan Gray and Todd Battey. phone number will be released for
Blvd. S from the 405 Fwy, pass Beyond 50th Street East is neglected carpooling unless you request otherwise.
Westminster Blvd., turn left onto the territory for many birders. However, Send name, phone number, e-mail, $40
base at the Forrestal Lane light, and Mountain Plover, raptors, LeConte’s per person, and SASE to sign-up with
left again into the lot. No fee. Thrasher and other AV specialties are Audubon House for exact directions and
First 24 signed-up with SASE’s sometimes easiest to find in the far further information. Reserve your own
eastern reaches of the Valley. Take room in Buttonwillow for Saturday
Hwy 14 N to Avenue S (next to Lake night. Motel 6 is one option here. FRS
radios & scopes helpful. Limit: 14.

Field Trip Reservations Please advise if it is ok to share your

your fee returned. Your cancellation after
contact info. with other trip
that time will bring a refund only if there is a
1) Mail separate checks for the exact participants for carpool purposes.
paid replacement.
amount for each trip along with a SASE
(for confirmation & info. flyer). OUR MAILING ADDRESS:
Before setting out on any LAAS trip,
2) State the date and trip name of desired trip. LOS ANGELES AUDUBON - RESERVATIONS
please call (323) 874-1318, #4. For a
3) Provide the name(s), phone number(s), P.O. BOX 931057
recorded announcement of last moment
(a) usual daytime (b) evening before LOS ANGELES, CA 90093-1057
changes! Other trip questions may be
event, (in case of cancellation.)
directed to our staff, M-Th 9:30am -
4) Provide an email address if you prefer If there is insufficient response, the trip will
4:00pm at (323) 876-0202, or email
electronic confirmation. be cancelled two Wednesdays prior to the
scheduled date. You will be so notified and

November/December 2008 21
The Best of Costa Rica
Escorted by Olga Clarke
March 6-18, 2009

For information and

itinerary, contact:

Olga Clarke
Los Angeles Audubon
Travel Director
2027 El Arbolita Dr.
Glendale, CA 91208-1805

Ph/Fax: 818-249-9511

Keel-billed Toucan, Photo by Herb Clarke

If you have been considering visiting and birding in Costa

Rica, wait no longer! We have an itinerary that offers six
of the major locations that are distinctive, each offering a
marvelous profusion of tropical birds. Costa Rica has a
well deserved reputation as a tiny country sincerely
interested in conserving its natural resources, and one that
is invariably on all birder's wish lists. Tropical forests
harbor howler monkeys, Resplendent Quetzals, poison-
dart frogs, giant morpho butterflies, over 830 species of
birds, and the beauty of thousands of plant species.

Habitats encountered will range from semiarid ranch land,

to misty cloud forest, the transition zone between the dry
and moist forests of the Pacific lowlands, the treeless
paramo, and what may well be the highlight of our trip, a
visit to La Selva, a lowland rainforest where nearly 400
birds have been recorded. As part of our small group,
enjoy some of the best tropical birding in Costa Rica,
where you will be accompanied by outstanding leaders
throughout. Space is limited.

Long-tailed Manakin, Photo by Herb Clarke

22 Western Tanager
Linda Oberholtzer is the new Christmas Bird Count for the last Two years ago, a new Layout
editor of the Western Tanager and several years and served as an Editor was needed for the continued
Susan Castor continues in her position assistant field trip leader at the Kern publishing of the Western Tanager
as layout editor. River Valley Spring Festival 2007. newsletter. She stepped into learning
Linda volunteers in the bird-banding about publishing for print as well as
Linda also serves as the Executive program at the Audubon California website authoring.
Secretary on the Los Angeles Starr Ranch Sanctuary.
Audubon Board. She has always She also was the coordinator of
enjoyed writing and has a degree in Susan Castor has been a staff the recent project to digitize 74 years
English with writing emphasis. Linda member of Los Angeles Audubon of Western Tanagers newsletters. The
worked briefly as a journalist and Society since February, 2000. She printed newsletters, first published in
writes freelance non-fiction articles is one of the voices at Audubon the year 1934, have been converted
about bird watching. House answering telephone into fully text searchable, PDF files.
questions and concerns from These files are now available to
She is the co-area leader of the Audubon members, Nature Store members by scheduling computer
Peters Canyon portion of the Sea and customers, and Website users. time with the staff at Audubon House.
Sage Audubon Northeastern Inland

As mentioned in a previous issue, we now have two new types of memberships in Los Angeles Audubon
Society, Inc. Lifetime Memberships for $1,000, and Student Memberships for $10 per year.
At this gift-giving time of year, please consider gifting your favorite students and nature enthusiast with the
Some of the benefits of being a local chapter member in Los Angeles Audubon are the included subscription to
the bi-monthly issue of the Western Tanager, and access to our research and lending library located in the
Los Angeles Audubon Headquarter’s in Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood, CA 90046.


Name(s): $10 Student: X ____ years = $

Name of Educational Institution?
Phone: $ Other Donation ______

□ This is a Gift Student Membership from: Los Angeles Audubon is a 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Organization.
Your donation is tax-deductible.
Name(s) ___________________________________ Tel: _____________
Check one:

□ I prefer to download my Western Tanager from the website, DO NOT MAIL.

□ Check enclosed. (Make check payable to Los Angeles Audubon)
□ Visa/MC/Discover:__________________________________
Exp. Date: ______Mo. ______ Yr. V-CODE(_ _ _)
Mail to:
Los Angeles Audubon- Membership
PO Box 931057 Signature: __________________________________________
Los Angeles, CA 90093-1057

November/December 2008 23
Meet at 7:30 PM in the Community Building in Plummer Park
7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Andrea Jones, Important Bird Areas Program Director for Audubon California presents:
The Important Bird Areas Program and YOU
The Important Bird Areas Program is a global effort to identify and conserve habitat vital
to birds and other biodiversity. This program identifies critical sites that provide essential
habitat for one or more species of bird. In California , such sites must be less than 100,000
acres in size, possess a bird community distinct from the surrounding region, and meet
other criteria. A site’s designation as an Important Bird Area is a powerful distinction which
can be utilized to leverage conservation efforts.

Andrea Jones, Audubon California’s Director of the Important Bird Areas Program, will
speak in depth about the Important Bird Areas program and highlight some of Los Angeles
County’s designated Important Bird Areas as well as other areas in southern California.
Andrea will discuss how Los Angeles Audubon members can get involved with this
program. She will welcome input about conservation concerns and visions for the region, Entrance to Butterbredt Springs by Mary Freeman.
so please bring your ideas!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Kimball Garrett presents:
We’ve all been perplexed as to the identity of many birds we see in the field. It should be
easy – just look at the bird and match it with a picture in your field guide! But of course
it doesn’t work that way, and the “match-the-picture” approach to field identification can
sometimes get you in lots of trouble. So why doesn’t the bird we see look “just like the one
in the book”? Is the problem with the bird? With the book? With the birder? Or with the
world in general? Kimball Garrett will explore the art of identifying birds in the field by
examining why birds so rarely look exactly as depicted in field guides. He’s been at it for
over 40 years, mainly here in southern California. When not in the field, he resides with
the bird collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County where he has
served as Ornithology Manager since 1982. Garrett is co-author of several bird books,
Juvenile California Gull, Malibu Lagoon by including the recent Birds of the Los Angeles Region, Birds of Southern California: Status
Kimball Garrett
and Distribution, and the Peterson Field Guide to Warblers.

Los Angeles Audubon Society

Los Angeles, CA 90093-1057 Please Expedite
Please watch our website for our
upcoming 2009 Pelagic schedule.
The first trip will be on Saturday,
February 28th. Going to the Palos
Verdes Escarpment on the boat
“Pacific Adventure”. The trip departs
from Ports-of-Call in San Pedro. $70

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