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10b4me

Ice climber
Wishes-He-Was-In-Arizona
Aug 14, 2013 - 01:12am PT
very cool, Dave.
cyndiebransford

climber
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
Aug 14, 2013 - 01:30am PT
I remember seeing a lot of Galahs in Oz.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 14, 2013 - 12:02pm PT
This is so sad. I remember when seeing a Burrowing Owl in the OC was no big.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___ _ __ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Navy steps up efforts to protect burrowing owls at weapons base

There are just four breeding pairs of burrowing owls left along the Southern California coast, all of which nest at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station in Orange County.


By Louis Sahagun
August 10, 2013, 2:00 p.m.



Five juvenile burrowing owls flapped across a salt marsh at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station on a recent weekday, matching the loops and curves of dragonflies and moths before snatching their prey midair.


Soon, the owls will be feasting on larger prey, including lizards, rodents and birds. That could present a touchy problem for the base's 1,000-acre wildlife refuge, which is also home to a breeding colony of federally endangered least terns.

There are four breeding pairs of burrowing owls left along the Southern California coast between Santa Barbara and Encinitas, and all of them nest at the Orange County base.

The terns are about a half-mile away from the owls' nest in a hole once inhabited by ground squirrels. Burrowing owls, which are listed as a "species of special concern" by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, tend to feed within a mile of their nest. The owl's designation provides modest protections assigned to animals deemed at risk but not threatened or endangered.

Peering through a spotting scope, Peter Bloom, a biologist who has been monitoring the base's avian life for 35 years, said: "It would be possible for these little guys to raid that colony of least terns. If that were to happen, the Navy would have to deal with the problem of a modestly protected species eating a federally endangered species."

The situation underlines the difficulty facing wildlife biologists in ensuring the survival of borderline species clinging to existence in Southern California's patchwork of isolated habitats surrounded by urban development.

"This base is the ultimate example of fragmented habitat," Bloom said. "The next nearest burrowing owl nests along the coast are 70 miles to the south and 90 miles to the northeast. These birds can't find each other anymore."

As he spoke, the wide-eyed juvenile owls with long legs hunkered down beside the entrance to their burrow and stared back at him. Nearby, an adult owl gave an alarm that resembled the sound of a rattlesnake.

The fledgling owls were discovered two weeks ago by Navy biologist Bob Schallmann, who hopes they pave the way for the bird that scientists know as Athene cunicularia to reestablish residency in a place where dozens of breeding pairs were recorded in the late 1960s, biologists said.

The Navy has stepped up efforts to protect burrowing owls within its premier weapons loading, storage and maintenance installation, which includes the wildlife refuge — one of the least frequented, most restricted patches of wilderness in the United States.

"If the burrowing owl were to become an endangered species, the new protections that would have to be implemented might hamper the operations conducted here," Schallmann said. "So we're restricting traffic and other disturbances in the vicinity of their nests, and encouraging growth of native plants and grasses that are magnets for insects they prey on."

Burrowing owls were among the state's most common birds in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Their numbers have been dropping steadily since the 1940s because of habitat loss through urban development, elimination of rodents they feed on, pesticides, predation by domestic animals, vehicle strikes, collisions with wind turbines and shooting, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Now, an alarming decline in the numbers of breeding burrowing owls in Imperial County — an area with the largest population of the owls in the state — has prompted calls for an immediate inquiry by state wildlife authorities.

Surveys conducted on behalf of the Imperial Irrigation District show the Imperial County owl population has declined from an estimated 5,600 pairs in the early 1990s to 4,879 pairs in 2007, and to 3,557 pairs in 2008.

It is unknown what is causing the Imperial County owl decline, but loss of suitable foraging areas from fallowing of agricultural fields due to water transfers and ground-squirrel eradication programs may play a role, according to biologists with the Center for Biological Diversity.

In 2003, a coalition of environmental groups led by the center filed a petition under the Endangered Species Act to protect the owl.

"The decimation of breeding owl populations in Orange and San Diego counties is indicative of the fate of the species in urbanizing areas of the state," the 118-page petition argued. "Even as late as 1975, burrowing owls were described as 'abundant' and 'bordering on ubiquitous' in suitable habitat in Orange County and were considered a 'regular component' of the coastal environment. By 2001, only 9 or less breeding pairs remained in the entirety of Orange and San Diego Counties."

The California Fish and Game Commission rejected the petition, in part, because it believed the bird continued to thrive in the Imperial Valley and along the lower Colorado River. "Although burrowing owls have clearly declined in some parts of their range in California," the commission responded in a 57-page report, "sufficient data is lacking in other parts of the state to indicate a decline, and healthy populations of Western burrowing owls exist in others areas of the state. It appears that there has been a shift in population density, such that the Imperial Valley and Palo Verde Valley support populations and have reached densities that were not likely present historically.

"In California, burrowing owls have shown incredible tolerance for human encroachment and degradation of native habitats," the commission concluded. "In urban areas, they are often found nesting within landfills, golf courses, airports, and vacant lots within highly developed areas."

Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, disagrees. His group plans to submit another petition to strengthen protections for the owl and its habitat.

"In fact, the future is pretty grim for burrowing owls," Miller said. "Without suitable habitat and active management, California could lose them."

louis.sahagun@latimes.com


Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Burrowing Owls disappearing




Here's an article on their decline in Imperial County, their remaining
stronghold:
Burrowing Owls decline in Imperial County
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Aug 14, 2013 - 12:10pm PT
Nice link Reilly...pretty sad...it is all habitat. They are building something (big) near my house...used to see lot's of birds on the fenceline...not any more. Say what you want about Boulder but they have great open space and protect it.


Here are a few from hike this AM.

Credit: Bob D'A

Credit: Bob D'A



Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Aug 14, 2013 - 12:13pm PT
Used to be able to see Burrowing Owls in Boulder without too much effort. Not so the last few years. Very sad loss.
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Aug 14, 2013 - 03:17pm PT
Heading to Costa Rica (likely San Jose to Tamarindo) next summer (August).
Any birding "hot spots" along the way I shouldn't miss?
My son and I are birding nuts, but not my wife or daughter.
So user friendly and not too expensive tours... would be ideal.
Thanks in advance!
I already have the birding field guide.
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Aug 14, 2013 - 03:57pm PT
Slater, Manuel Antonio NP is great as are the hills around San Jose. Corcovado National Park is off the wall and the hills and mountains around Liberia are also quite good.

Also spend some time here...http://www.liberiacostaricainfo.com/Rincon-de-La-Vieja.htm#wildlife...great park.
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
Aug 14, 2013 - 04:48pm PT
Bird of the Day!!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Peacock-Pheasant

Credit: dirt claud
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 15, 2013 - 12:42pm PT
Guinea hens shouldn't face into a stiff breeze when a photog is nearby...
Credit: Reilly
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
Aug 15, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
Good one Reilly. We raised some of those when I was a kid.
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Aug 16, 2013 - 03:17pm PT
http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Beckey-Route-Liberty-Bell-birds-and-birding/t12090n.html#comments

Excellent TR with birds and climbing. Thanks for sharing this Darwin!
Bob D'A

Trad climber
Taos, NM
Aug 16, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
Blue Grosbeak again...lovely little things.

Credit: Bob D'A


If anyone has the need for a great binoculars at a good price..I have a pair of Nikon Premier SE 10x42 for $475 shipped.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Aug 16, 2013 - 03:42pm PT
Interesting about the burrowing owls in the next counties over. Our population here at work in Riverside are thriving. We have at least twice as many as we had two years ago. I counted 14 a couple days ago, in a area less than a square mile.

dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
Aug 16, 2013 - 06:00pm PT
That's good news Elcap.
The colors on that grosbeak are awesome.

here is a cool lookin peacock
Credit: dirt claud
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Aug 16, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
Dirt Claud - my parents have 'normal,' pied, and white peafowl on their property. Endlessly entertaining. I sport a scar on my left forearm from a white peacock like you have pictured. He was sitting in my lap happily being pet. He decided it was time to go and jumped. His talons are sharper than either of us realized!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Aug 17, 2013 - 12:00am PT
That white peacock is a TRiP!
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
Aug 17, 2013 - 12:03am PT
Credit: Slater

Credit: Slater

Another day at the beach...
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Aug 17, 2013 - 06:51am PT
We just got back from Lake Mungo Nat. Pk. It was way birdier than expected.

Singing Honeyeater

Credit: dee ee

Emu

Credit: dee ee

Major Mitchell Cockatoo

Credit: dee ee

Little Corella

Credit: dee ee
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Aug 17, 2013 - 06:56am PT
Red-capped Robin

Credit: dee ee
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Aug 17, 2013 - 07:05am PT
Little Eagle, that rabbit isn't too happy.

Credit: dee ee
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