Thursday, January 8, 2015
California’s Coastal Seabirds
Dan Robinette, Point Blue Conservation Science
Dan Robinette is a senior scientist at Point Blue Conservation Science, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through science, partnerships, and outreach. Dan manages Point Blue’s coastal marine program. (Point Blue used to be called Point Reyes Bird Observatory). His research interests include studying the population, breeding, dietary, and foraging ecology of seabirds. Dan has studied seabird foraging within and adjacent to the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve since 2000 and has expanded the program to include the recently added marine areas protected under California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. Dan is also involved in the expansion of the Seabird Protection Network which aims to reduce human-caused disturbance to important seabird breeding and roosting sites throughout California.
Dan will be speaking about seabird life history strategies and the importance of California’s coastal habitats for seabird breeding, roosting, and foraging. He’ll discuss the many threats that seabirds face along with potential solutions. Please Join us!
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Thursday, February 12, 2015
Choosing your Perfect Optics and Wildlife Slideshow
Dr. Bruce Aird and Steve Sosensky from Optics4Birding in Irvine
Both gentlemen are leading birders in Orange County. We’ll be treated to an informative presentation about binoculars and other optics followed by a slideshow of birds, reptiles, insects, and mammals they’ve encountered during their field trips around southern California and elsewhere. They’ll talk about how the images were obtained and the optics and techniques best suited for viewing various types of animals. Whatever your skill level, you’ll definitely benefit from their expert advice!
Steve Sosensky is Vice President of Optics4Birding. He has been birding for more than 20 years and is a professional bird guide. Dr. Bruce Aird is a features editor and product reviewer at Optics4Birding, which allows him to play with all the best birding toys. He has been a birder, conservationist, and nature enthusiast for over 30 years. Bruce is a past president of Sea & Sage Audubon and still serves on their Board of Directors.
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First, I hope all of you are enjoying a blessed Holiday season, connecting with friends and family, and feeling renewed by memories and old relationships. Soon we’ll begin a new year – and we can reflect on this past year and make plans for the new one.
It has been a very successful year financially for L.H. Audubon, and I’m expecting an equally good year coming up. Our year-end fund drive is coming to a close and I want to thank you all again for your support (gifts are still tax deductible for 2014 if made before Jan. 1, 2015). Our last major event of the year was our October bus trip to Paramount Studios and Farmers Market, and a tour of Hollywood. It was a fun day and a worthwhile trip, but we didn’t clear as much profit as we had hoped (Paramount raised their tour price after the trip was planned).
I hope the zip code re-assignment has gone smoothly for everyone that was affected. The mailing list for this issue of The Burrowing Owl will reveal how the re-assignment has, or has not, impacted our membership.
Our first general meeting of 2015 is January 8th at 7 pm. The speaker for that meeting, Dan Robinette, manages Point Blue’s (which used to be called Point Reyes Bird Observatory) coastal marine program. Dan will be speaking about seabird life history strategies and the importance of California’s coastal habitats for seabird breeding, roosting, and foraging. Mark your calendars so you won’t miss this interesting presentation!
I wish all of you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year, and I’m looking forward to our first meeting of 2015. See you there!
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2014 Birder’s Buzz
President Obama has created the largest marine reserve in the world by expanding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean. It increases the monument to 490,000 square miles, 6 times the size it was. Commercial fishing will be banned, but recreational fishing will be allowed.
Birds & Beans is the only coffee roaster whose beans come only from farms certified as Bird Friendly by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center—the highest level of certification available for coffee. Visit http://www.birdsandbeans.com for ordering information.
A new study has linked neonicotinoids, the best-selling insecticides, to declining populations of insect-eating birds. A report by American Bird Conservancy claims that a single kernel of corn coated with a neonicotinoid is enough to kill a songbird. The European Union suspended the use of three kinds of neonicotinoids from the end of 2013 to the end of 2015. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it would phase out the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System by January 2016.
Looking for new, used, or rare books about birds? Buteo Books will likely have it or can find it. Go to www.buteobooks.com or call 1-800-722-2460.
In eastern Alaska and western Canada, the population of polar bears has declined by 40% due to global warming. Conservationists have predicted that more than two-thirds of the world’s polar bear subpopulations could be extinct by 2050 and are fighting to get polar bears placed on the endangered species list.
The exfoliating microbeads found in many skin cleansers harm the environment. They pollute waterways and poison fish and birds. Highly toxic environmental pollutants such as industrial chemicals stick to these microbeads which look like food to birds and fish. They also don’t degrade, or degrade very slowly. Avoid products that contain microbeads, or list “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” in the ingredients.
Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park parking lot and entrance off Awma Road will be temporarily closed through the spring of 2015 as the area undergoes a complete renovation which will include native landscaping, parking and trailhead improvements, and new trails. During the closure, visitors may park at Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Gate 18 at the end of Aliso Canyon Road, Canyon View Park, or Top of the World in Laguna Beach.
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Bird Species in Peril Due to Climate Change
Half of all bird species in North America are at risk of severe population decline by 2080 if the increasing pace of global warming continues. This was the conclusion reached by the National Audubon Society after performing a study in September 2014. The study, led by Gary Langham, chief Audubon scientist, examined more than 500 bird species, and concluded that more than 300 species in Canada and the United States will face large climate shifts that could reduce their habitat by half or more by 2080.
By 2080, all of the habitat of the Common Loon, the state bird of Minnesota, could disappear in the lower 48 states. In Southern California, the black oystercatcher may abandon coastal areas for more suitable climes in British Columbia and Alaska. Other U.S. bird species that could face habitat loss due to climate change include the American Avocet, the Eared Grebe, the Trumpeter Swan, the White-headed Woodpecker and the Chestnut-collared Longspur. The Bald Eagle could see its habitat decrease by 75%. In order for a species to survive, it will need to be able to adapt to new habitats with different temperatures and precipitation rates.
For this study, 30 years of historical North American climate data was analyzed along with tens of thousands of records from the U.S. Geological Survey’s American Breeding Bird Survey and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Despite the dire projections, Langham said he hoped that through concerted actions now, the worst-case future scenarios could be avoided.
Source: “Climate change could harm birds”, article by Louis Sahagun, LA Times, Sept. 9, 2014
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Faithful or Promiscuous? In the avian world, it depends…
Reproduction is vital to the survival of a species. Therefore, mating strategies that produce the maximum number of surviving offspring is critical.
Some birds are monogamous. Monogamy occurs in more than 90% of avian species. However, virtually all species of songbirds, and many other species, are promiscuous and participate in extra-pair copulations (EPCs). Paired males commonly copulate with other females, increasing the males’ chances of fathering offspring.
In cases where birds can monopolize desirable habitat or a group of birds of the opposite sex, polygamy is possible. In polygamy, a male or female pairs with two or more members of the opposite sex.
Different mating systems allow birds to take advantage of reproductive strengths and habitat conditions. So unlike our society, where promiscuity is a moral issue, in the avian world, survival of a species may depend on it.
Source: “Ain’t misbehaving’” by Eldon Greij, Birdwatching, June 2014
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