Posted on Categories Habitats, WildlifeTags , , ,

Winter is prime time for birdwatching in Northern California

When winter strips the leaves from the Bay Area’s deciduous oaks, it does more than bring more light to a dark season. It also enables those enchanted by birds a better chance to see them, count them, and appreciate them.
This improved visibility is one of the reasons popular and productive citizens’ science birding events, such as the Christmas Bird Count (sponsored by the National Audubon Society) and the Great Backyard Bird Count (sponsored by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology), are staged in winter. Those elusive little brown birds are easier to see and identify when they aren’t obscured by foliage, meaning counts are more accurate and provide a better gauge by which to measure the health of bird populations and the habitats that sustain them.
Birding, like wildflower blooms, newt migrations, butterfly and ladybug congregations, and displays of autumn foliage, offers walkers an opportunity to experience the Bay Area’s open lands in a new way. For the amateur, turning an eye to the sky opens the hiking experience to a higher plane. For safety’s sake, hikers focus on their feet, watching the trail so they don’t fall down. You’ve got to look up to find the birds, which means you must stop, and stopping results in discovery. The place may be old and familiar, but by pausing, looking up, and listening to the birdcall, you will see that place in a different way.
On the trails described below, amateur birders or those who are curious about birds are guaranteed to see a variety of species, from songbirds to shorebirds to raptors. These trails also offer opportunities for expert birders to check off another species on their life lists.
Read more at: Winter is prime time for birdwatching in Northern California | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Local Organizations, WildlifeTags , ,

Betty Burridge, Sonoma County champion of bird conservation, dies at 84 

Betty Burridge loved birds. One of the region’s leading, longest-tenured advocates of wildlife conservation, Burridge counted and chronicled and studied and traveled the world to seek out and savor every possible species.
A physical therapist by profession, Burridge was for decades a stalwart of the regional Audubon Society and a leader of its winter bird counts. She spent years compiling a Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas that has been invaluable when questions arise as to how a proposed construction project might impact nesting birds.
“In these times of rapid growth and development within Sonoma County, wildlife habitat is disappearing every day,” Burridge said 30 years ago, in comments that still seem timely. “Each of us can recall fields where hawks used to soar, that now are shopping centers; farm ponds where ducks and shorebirds lingered, that since have been drained.”
Passionate to the end about preserving ecosystems that support birds and other animals, Burridge died March 24 in Santa Rosa. She was 84.
For many years, she and fellow Madrone Audubon Society members Ernestine “Ernie” Smith and Martha Bentley towered as giants in regional conservation efforts. Smith died just last August, Bentley in 2008.
Read more at: Betty Burridge, Sonoma County champion of bird conservation, dies at 84 | The Press Democrat