Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Eastern Sierra Audubon Society

Sierra Wave


Volume 31, Number 4
March-April, 2013

Sierra Wave Newsletter

Volume 31, Number 4
March-April, 2013



Thursday, April 11th - Birds of Southeast Asia with Bob Steele

Note the day of our next program is Thursday (not Wednesday), April 11th at the White Mountain Research Station. Join us then for Bob Steele's program on Birds of Southeast Asia at 7pm - don't miss it!

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Thailand, photo by Bob Steele

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Thailand
Photo ©Bob Steele (all rights reserved)

Target bird – one of the rarest on the planet – Spoon-billed Sandpiper. This is the prize for most birders who venture to Thailand. But that is only the start of a wonderful birding adventure in Southeast Asia. Join professional bird photographer Bob Steele as we explore several of the best birding locations in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Thailand, a country about the size of California has recorded well over 1000 species. From coastal wetlands and beaches, to tropical forested mountains, the bird life is amazingly diverse.

Bob and his wife Susan traveled to Southeast Asia in 2012 and 2013. They spend the work-week in Inyokern and weekends in Aspendell. See more of Bob’s photos at: www.bobsteelephoto.com.

Note this program is on THURSDAY night, rather than our usual Wednesday, to accommodate the speaker's schedule.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater – MalaysiaLong-tailed Broadbill – Thailand

Two more amazing birds of Southeast Asia:
Blue-tailed Bee-eater – Malaysia (left) and Long-tailed Broadbill – Thailand (right)
Photos ©Bob Steele, all rights reserved

This program is free of charge and the public is welcome!

For more information contact Jenny Richardson (email jennyn63@gmail.com or call 760-920-8541). Also, check our programs page for updates and the exciting list of speakers for the 2013 season. Everyone is welcome to attend all programs!

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Upcoming ESAS Field Trips

Bishop COSA Bird Walk and Census, Saturday, March 9, 8:30am

Leaders: Jenny Richardson and Bill Mitchel

Audubon volunteers will be leading monthly bird walks in the new Conservation Open Space Area (COSA) on Bishop Tribal land (see article below for more information on the COSA). All are welcome - these walks will be for birders of any level, including beginners. We will bring some extra binoculars to share with anyone who is interested and doesn't have their own. If you are coming, and have extra binoculars you are willing to share, bring them along!

For this first walk, we will meet at 8:30am at the BLM/Forest Service Building on West Line Street, and walk from there to the Conservation Open Space Area being developed for wildlife and the community by the Bishop Paiute Tribe. We'll be keeping species lists and observing behavior as well as identifying birds, for the purpose of creating bird lists for the site. Come and check out the new COSA and help census the birds that are using the area. We hope to see you there!

Meet at 8:30am, BLM/Forest Service Building in Bishop. Contact Jenny Richardson for more information, or if you are interested in leading a future monthly walk and census: jennyn63@gmail.com or call 760-920-8541.

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Bighorn Tracking Field Trip, Saturday, March 16, 2013

Join biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a FREE all-day field trip to see endangered Sierra bighorn in the wild. (Not an Audubon trip - but it sounds like something our members would love!)

RSVP: asksnbs@wildlife.ca.gov or (760) 872-3159 by Monday, March 11

Where: Meet at DFW parking lot (corner of N Fowler and Church)
: 9:00am - late afternoon on Saturday, March 16
What to bring: lunch and snacks, water, sunscreen, layers, sturdy boots, binoculars, spotting scope if you have one
What to expect: It all depends on where the sheep are! Be prepared for moderate hiking.

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Birds and Tortoises at California City, Saturday April 27 and Sunday April 28

Leaders: Charlie Massieon and Laura Mogg

Just as Central Park in New York City has a growing reputation for migratory and resident avian species, so does Central Park in California City. After all, relatively few oases await a tired and hungry bird in the desert. We'll be guided by locals Clarlie Massieon and Laura Mogg. Laura has co-authored a page on Cal City in the upcoming April issue of "Birdwatching". Participants will convene at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday at the Strada Center Building in the park. Afternoon adventures a little further afield will be available.

Early Sunday morning the pair plan to walk in the nearby Desert Tortoise Preserve at which they have volunteered for years. For more information and directions, or to learn about available camping and accommodations please contact the leaders at (760) 373-2387. This is a joint outing with Kerncrest Audubon.

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Mammoth Creek Birding, Saturday May 11

Leader: Jane Kenyon

Celebrate International Migratory Birding Day with a walk along Mammoth Creek, looking and listening especially for migrating songbirds. Distance is about a mile to the Mammoth Museum and back. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Mammoth Creek Park on Old Mammoth Road, one block south of Chateau Road. Last year participants found the beautiful ceanothus silk moth, the pygmy nuthatch and a house wren building their nests; as well as a northern flicker hollowing out a tree snag. Trip will last about ninety minutes. For more information please phone the leader at 934-0372.

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Check back for additions and updates here and on the Field Trips page of the ESAS website.

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2013 Owens Lake Spring Big Day: Tuesday, April 23rd

The 2013 Owens Lake Spring Big Day will be Tuesday, April 23rd. We are looking for birders with at least some experience to help out. Small groups of citizen scientists will join with LADWP staff to spread across the lake and count EVERY BIRD WE FIND. Last April our total for that one day was over 75,000 birds, and 47,000 were shorebirds! Owens Lake is an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA) with tremendous importance. It hosts tens of thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl and is the largest nesting location for Snowy Plovers in California. Our data collected on Big Days is used by LADWP, State Lands, CA DFG, Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, and Audubon in the management and planning at Owens Lake.

To join in, or for more information, please contact Mike Prather at 760-876-5807 or mprather@lonepinetv.com. We will meet at 7AM at the Diaz Lake parking lot three miles south of Lone Pine on Highway 395.

Bird counters at Owens Lake

Come count birds for the Spring Owens Lake Big Day!

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Registration Opens April 15th for Bird Chautauqua

The Twelfth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is set to take place June 14-16, 2013, and internet registration opens on April 15th. Based out of Lee Vining, this celebrated event is among the best of the nature festivals blending science, art, music, and great food into one 3-day event. The event’s official slogan, “not your ordinary bird festival,” is for good reason. Subjects offered, in addition to birds, will include flowers and plants, butterflies, mammals, geology, nature awareness, photography, storytelling, and art. Several kids events will also be offered. Approximately 75 workshops, auditorium presentations, and field trips will be offered by 45 knowledgeable and experienced instructors from California and the West.

Jon Young, author of What the Robin Knows, will be one of the featured guest speakers. We will also have poet Tom Crawford throughout the weekend giving readings and workshops. For a preview check out his latest book The Names of Birds.

Birding field trip locations range from Convict Lake to Yosemite to the Bodie Hills and Bridgeport. As always the event will end on Sunday with a picnic and concert at Mono Lake County Park.

The event is based out of Lee Vining and is organized by the Mono Lake Committee and California State Parks. Other partners include: Eastern Sierra Audubon, Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy, Friends of the Inyo, and PRBO Conservation Science.

The schedule and detailed program information will be posted on the web site by late March. For more information please visit: www.birdchautauqua.org.

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Birds in the Classroom - call for volunteers

Birds in the classroom volunteer Larry Nahm with students at the Bishop City Park

Birds in the classroom volunteer Larry Nahm
with students at the Bishop City Park

Our Birds in the Classroom Program is currently gearing up for the 2013 field season. This program is offered to 3rd grade students at Pine street School in Bishop, with similar programs in Lee Vining and Benton. Students are acquainted with common local birds, taught about different adaptations for survival, and given an overview of bird migration. Audubon volunteers show a slide and video show in the classrooms. This year we are also coordinating our programs with Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care's "Helping Wildlife" slideshow and their "Raptors and Ravens" school program, which includes the live birds, Wildlife Ambassadors "Razzle" the Raven and "Spirit" the Red-tailed Hawk. Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care staff will present their own programs. For the Audubon part of the program, at the school, students are taught how to use binoculars, shown strategies for bird watching, and then each class has a one-hour field trip to the Bishop City Park during spring migration to view the birds.

We need volunteers to make all this happen!

And don't be shy, you don't have to have an extensive knowledge of birds with 3rd graders. One year I couldn't remember the Brewer's Blackbird, so I said, "Let's get out the birdbook and find this bird!" If you can present our prepared slide/video show with script to classes, be a docent on the field trips (meet the 3rd graders at the park and share common birds that you find), help with or lead the lessons on binocular etiquette, or go into the classroom and assist the teacher with a game called "Bird Beak Buffet" that would be GREAT! Or if you just want to be involved and help with behavior/ keeping kids on task that would also be appreciated. No volunteerism it too small! Come this year to learn and volunteer in years to come. The dates for the activities are listed below (can be subject to slight changes due to availability of volunteers), so please contact Sara at 760-873-4320 or ssteck@suddenlink.net for more info or to sign up.



Volunteer Opportunities for Birds in the Classroom

Bird Beak Game

Teachers will play the game with their own class and set their own schedule: contact Sara (760-873-4320 or ssteck@suddenlink.net) for more dates/times if you would like to assist.

Eastern Sierra Audubon Powerpoint Slideshow

April 23-25, Three separate 1-hour presentations. Tuesday 4/23 at 8:45am, and Thursday 4/25 at 8:45 & 10:15am. Let Sara know if you are willing to help with any (or all) of these.

Binoculars in the Classroom

Afternoons April 30-May 10 (except May 6th). A total of two lessons in each class. First lesson in classroom, binocular use. Second lesson starts in the classroom and moves outdoors. Presentations after lunch, between 12:20 and 2:00, 3 afternoons each week with exact dates to be decided (no Monday). You can volunteer for any day, any number of lessons.

Birding Field Trips to Bishop City Park (or COSA)

UPDATED: Mornings of May 13th, 14th, & 16th (no longer on the 17th), two field trips each morning, 9-10am and 10:15-11:15am, except Thursday 5/16, only one 9-10am field trip. You can volunteer to help with one trip, two trips on one day, up to all the trips. Any time you can volunteer is appreciated!

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"Think about a phalarope flying those distances.
And then think about flocks of phalaropes, millions
of individuals being driven on their collective journey.
We go about our lives giving little thought, if any, to
such miracles. There is a chorus of wings navigating
the planet."

— Terry Tempest WIlliams

President’s Message

A couple of weeks ago, I had to attend a weekend workshop in San Diego (sometimes you just have to soldier on). Our meetings took place in a room with a bank of windows which overlook a marina. The second morning, I brought my binoculars to the meeting in the hope that there was something happening outside the room that would be more compelling than the discussions within. I had been looking forward to this trip as a chance to get away from the cold, but it followed us south. The days were cold, overcast and blustery and most of the birds were hunkered down, so birding out the window was not particularly productive. Still, the opportunity to be distracted from the proceedings by the quick flash of a cormorant or pelican helped lend some perspective to the work going on inside.

Later, we were able to take a walk along the bay shore. Because, we do not often get to the coast, we saw birds which, although not “exotic,” were outside our norm. This did not count the flamingos in a hotel’s atrium. We even picked up a new gull. There was a little sunshine, great views of the downtown citrus on trees and the smells of the ocean. Later, I talked with a local about what we had seen and he consoled me for only having seen ordinary birds. I guess this was intended to mean that the walk would have been better not taken.

Red-winged Blackbirds

Early spring tree filled with Red-winged Blackbirds
(photo by Maggie Riley)

On a cold morning in January, sick of the winter, I went outside to see to the chickens and was greeted by a flock of “ordinary” Red-winged Blackbirds, singing in the trees behind our yard. These pedestrian birds had brought me the unexpected promise that there would be spring and we would be able to look back at cold season one more time. In some more ancient time, this return of these brightly trilling birds would have been seen as miraculous, and it was no less so to me.

Do the people who live in the far off places we see in the Audubon programs become immune to the birds our presenters have worked so hard to travel to and see. Does someone say “sorry, it’s just another Trogon, nothing to see here”? I guess they might. I know I was sitting in Yosemite Valley, mildly irritated at a Steller’s Jay’s interest in my lunch, when some people from the east coast went berserk with excitement at seeing “such an amazing bird.” When I looked back, the bird was, indeed, amazing; no change in it, I just needed to focus on the bird and not on my sandwich.

I walk behind our house toward Fish Slough. I have made this stroll again and again. It is familiar but never exactly the same. What is greening up here at its base? Whose shoots are those? What tracks are here? What is in bloom? A storm spills over the Sierra crest. The ridge changes to a new light green, to yellow, and then back to its familiar sage scape. These differences are at once ordinary and very special; it is my choice.

For me, I think I celebrate the ordinary. It is surely my niche in the world. “Ordinary” birds give me solace and I am thankful for their steady unassuming appearances in my world. We have owls in our yard now. That started last summer and has continued until sightings have become routine I have seen them raise a family and hope they will do so again. The birds seemingly have been transformed from the extraordinary to a fixture in our landscape. Of course, the birds have not been changed, it is my perception of the part they play in my view of things. I have been moved from awe at their sight to awe at the idea that we share the same living space. It’s just a Mountain Chickadee and I am so grateful to be a part of its world.

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Bishop Paiute Tribe Conservation Open Space Area (COSA)

In 1998, the Bishop Paiute Tribe set aside a 25 acre area of their reservation for open space conservation located within the Tribe’s commercial park located on West Line Street. The area is located north of the USFS/BLM federal building and bounded to the east by Bishop elementary school and to the West by See Vee Lane.

Conservation Open Space Area: Desert Fish Refuge Project

Conservation Open Space Area (COSA): Desert Fish Refuge Project
Bishop Paiute Tribe Environmental Management Office

Recently, the Environmental Management Office of the Bishop Paiute Tribe has completed the first phase of a Department of Interior–Bureau of Reclamation American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded project to enhance the area for native fish, plants and cultural uses and environmental education. The first phase of that project has been completed where a steady source of water was secured, two ponds were constructed, and 3000 feet of walking pathway was built connecting Bishop Elementary School with the Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center. The area is intended to aid the recovery of several species of California sensitive Owens Valley native fish species include Owens speckled dace, Owens tui chub, Owens sucker and the federally listed endangered Owens pupfish. While one of the areas ponds has been successful in offering habitat to three of these fish, the Tribe is continuing to work through several roadblocks to bringing the pupfish to the area on the other pond. Work this summer under a grant from the USFWS will consist of improving the habitat for the ponds, digging two additional ponds, and planning several species of California sensitive and native and culturally important plants in the area while controlling invasives. Many birds inhabit the area as well thanks to the wetlands and varied tree canopy.

Nature Journaling Curriculum

Beginning this summer, the Tribe will be hosting a half-year AmeriCorps position courtesy of the Sierra Nevada Alliance Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership program. This volunteer will be working with the Tribe, area schools, and Eastern Sierra Audubon to create an education and outreach plan for the area, including developing California curriculum integrated activities that can be used by the local schools. One exciting model we anticipate using is Opening the World through Journaling: Integrating art, science, and language artsOpening the World through Journaling: Integrating art, science, and language arts, written for the California Native Plant Society by John Muir Laws, Emilie Lygren, Emily Breunig, and Celeste Lopez.

The staff of the Environmental Management Office of the Bishop Tribe welcomes all interested Audubon members, members of other conservation organizations and the general public to be part of our project. For more information please contact Brian Adkins, Environmental Director, Bishop Paiute Tribe at 760-873-3584 of Brian.Adkins@bishoppaiute.org

Editor's Note: ESAS will census the birds in the COSA starting on March 9th, with our first COSA Bird Walk and Census. See the field trip description above for more information. There will be another walk/census in April, and monthly thereafter - watch the field trips page for future dates!

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Eastern Sierra Audubon Scholarships - Apply by April 15th!

The Eastern Sierra Audubon Society is pleased to announce the availability of two $500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors in Inyo and Mono Counties. The goal of these scholarships is to encourage local students to consider higher education and career choices that further the mission of Audubon:

“To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.”

Students may further these ideals through science, education, advocacy, habitat conservation, art, journalism, literature, law, public policy, environmental justice or outdoor recreation.

Last year's recipients were Jamey Wilcher and Nicholas Schley. Read more about Jamey and Nick here.

Interested students must fill out a scholarship application form, which includes a series of short essays in which they share some of their experiences and goals and how those relate to the Audubon Mission Statement.

The deadline for applications is April 15, 2013. We will announce winners and publish winning essays in a future online newsletter. We may also publish essays from awardees in future newsletters as well. Please share this information with any local high school students you know (and their parents)!

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Spring to the Challenge

[Birds in bold type have a photo in the article (or linked) - click on any photo to see all in a slideshow]

Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler, photo by Tom Heindel

Are you ready?! Life is about to get more complicated! Millions of bird that spend the winter in more hospitable climes to the south with abundant food supplies have already started moving north. These neotropical migrants may summer and raise a family in the Eastern Sierra or continue north and breed between here and the North Pole.

Why does this happen? Why don't all of "our" birds stay here all year? There are many factors to consider but the two more important are food availability and cover. Many migratory species depend heavily on insects and fruits, both in low supply during our cold, northern winters. This is also when deciduous vegetation is leafless and cover is more difficult to find.

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler, photo by Tom Heindel

Now that you've had a few months to become comfortable in identifying our wintering species, it is time to say good-bye to the Rough-legged and Ferruginous Hawks, Merlins, Northern Shrikes, and Longspurs, and hello to the dozens of neotropical migrants.

We once asked the top birder in the state, Guy McCaskie, how he keeps all the identification information in order and he said, "I constantly review!" So, let us review some of the groups we may want to study before they arrive since "Success occurs when opportunity meets with preparation!"

One advantage with spring migrants is that most species are returning all dressed up in the bright plumage shown in all field guides making identification much easier than in fall when most are wearing their drab garb.

The Eastern Sierra has recorded 44 species of warblers, but in winter typically only Orange-crowned and both Yellow-rumped (Audubon's and Myrtle) Warblers occur. Soon our regular spring warblers will begin arriving and mixed in will be 'vagrants', those species who lost their way and will be found where they aren't supposed to be! Will you be prepared to identify a Cape May, Tennessee, or Magnolia Warbler? The names are clues as to where they were supposed to go!

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler, photo by Tom Heindel

Flycatchers are a large group, poorly represented in the Eastern Sierra in winter…because they eat 'flies' and other insects. No bugs, no bug catchers! Of the 23 species recorded here, only the Black and Say's Phoebes and occasionally the Vermilion Flycatcher occur in winter, but on the horizon are pewees, kingbirds, and Empidonax and Myiarchus flycatchers.

Female Orchard Oriole

Female Orchard Oriole, photo by Tom Heindel

Of the eight species of hummingbirds, only Anna's and Costa's Hummingbirds, are recorded in winter. Are you going to distinguish an Allen's or Ruby-throated Hummingbird at your feeder? The Allen's would be new to Inyo County and the Ruby-throated would be the second record. All six species of orioles vacate the Eastern Sierra in winter. How do you distinguish a female Orchard Oriole from a female Hooded Oriole? Or a Gray-cheeked Thrush (one record in Kern and none in Inyo) from a dull Swainson's Thrush? Or female (males are easy) Blackburnian Warbler? Or a Mourning Warbler from a MacGillivray's Warbler?

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Gray-cheeked Thrush, photo by Matt Heindel

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern, photo by Tom Heindel

Of the 13 gull species that have occurred here only Ring-billed and California Gulls can be seen in winter. Are you ready for the other 11 species? Will you be prepared for the first county record of Little Gull instead of assuming that it was a Bonaparte's Gull? It has been recorded at Crowley Lake and China Lake…and it didn't fly due west or east to avoid Inyo County! Of the six tern species none are found in winter. Will you be able to distinguish the rare Arctic Tern from the more common Forster's and Common Terns? All 11 vireos are gone in winter. Are you going to pull the first county record of Yellow-green Vireo? Three have been recorded in Kern County and unquestionably the species has occurred in Inyo County but a prepared birder didn't cross paths with one.

There are a few weeks before Pandora's Bird Box opens…and it will open. Will you be prepared? You get the picture! In fact, for any new Inyo County record you will need a picture!

Female Blackburnian Warbler

Female Blackburnian Warbler, photo by Matt Heindel

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Traveling the 38th Parallel - a water line around the world, by David and Janet Carle

Cover of Traveling the 38th Parallel
Cover of Traveling the 38th Parallel

We are pleased to announce that our new book, Traveling the 38th Parallel, a Water Line around the World, has been published by the University of California Press. 

From the inside cover:

"Between extremes of climate farther north and south, the 38th North parallel line marks a temperate, middle latitude where human societies have thrived since the beginning of civilization. It divides North and South Korea, passes through Athens and San Francisco, and bisects Mono Lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada, where authors David and Janet Carle make their home. Former park rangers, the authors set out on an around-the-world journey in search of water-related environmental and cultural intersections along the 38th parallel. This book is a chronicle of their adventures as they meet people confronting challenges in water supply, pollution, wetlands loss, and habitat protection. At the heart of the narrative are the riveting stories of the passionate individuals—scientists, educators, and local activists—who are struggling to preserve some of the world's most amazing, yet threatened, landscapes.

Traveling largely outside of cities, away from well-beaten tourist tracks, the authors cross Japan, Korea, China, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Greece, Sicily, Spain, Portugal, the Azores Islands, and the United States—from Chesapeake Bay to San Francisco Bay. The stories they gather provide stark contrasts as well as reaffirming similarities across diverse cultures. Generously illustrated with maps and photos, Traveling the 38th Parallel documents devastating environmental losses but also inspiring gains made through the efforts of dedicated individuals working against the odds to protect these fragile places."

What others are saying:

“David and Janet Carle’s journey along the 38th parallel turned into something quite different- an exploration of diverse global environments, of exploitation and heroic efforts at renewal with long-term planning for recovery. This is a treasure of a book that provides both hope and food for thought. Everyone who cares about the future of our environment should read this remarkable volume.”
— Brian Fagan, author of Elixir: A History of Humans and Water and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Regardless of our differences, all humans share an utter dependency on water. We will run out of oil eventually, but if we allow reason to prevail, we need not run out of water. This beautiful book both reveals the threat to our water resources and gives us hope. Read it for your sake and your children’s sake.”
— James Lawrence Powell, author of Dead Pool

Janet and David Carle, after kayaking across Drake's Bay

Janet and David Carle, after kayaking across Drake's Bay along their around the world journey

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Birding from a Rehabber's Point of View

American White Pelican

Young White Pelican stranded
Suffering from exhaustion during migration

Birders see birds (and other wildlife) in their natural setting performing natural behaviors. Rehabbers see birds and other wildlife up close and in hand. The animals arrive in boxes, carriers or wrapped in jackets; or they are rescued from roadsides, structures, yards, culverts, ponds and parking lots.

The fortunate birder has a joyful experience watching soaring White Pelicans high in the blue; the rehabber nets or grabs a pelican stranded in the median of Highway 395. The birder enjoys watching a Pacific Loon dip and dive in sparkling waters; the rehabber rescues a loon from a dry, sandy stretch of Eureka Sand Dunes Road, frightened and dehydrated, lobed toes scraped and bleeding from rough pavement.

Perspectives differ but appreciation of these marvelous wild beings is shared. As rehabbers, we have the privilege of watching two tiny black baby hummingbirds (“beaners”) as their eyes open, necks grow stronger as they gape for food, feathers emerge as pins, then open into feathers. We watch the two as they learn to eat on their own, fly and hover, and in the end, fly free into their wild world.

But there is a dark side the rehabber sees and knows: wildlife hit by cars, caught by cats and dogs, shot, trapped or caught in fishing line. We see the Golden Eagles who sicken and die from lead poisoning, the spotted skunks and Red-shouldered Hawks weakened and ill from rodenticides and owls, hawks, and eagles injured and suffering, and dying, from electrocution.

Golden Eagle with lead poisoning

Adult Golden Eagle with lead poisoning
Unable to stand; died

Rodenticide poisoning in wildlife is reaching epidemic proportions in California and most of the country. Testing in some California rehab facilities has shown that 80% of animals admitted have rodenticides in their systems. State Fish and Wildlife, in tests of live animals in wilderness settings, found 80% of all raptors, the rare and elusive Fisher, and San Joaquin kit foxes tested positive for these poisons; 100% of mountain lions and bobcats had anticoagulant poisons in their bodies. (These “second-generation” sub-lethal poisons remain in the body allowing multiple exposures.) Found in streams and lakes, these poisons also kill thousands of fish and other aquatic life.

As birders, you can help stem this epidemic. Learn more about these poisons and their unwanted, indiscriminate side. Share that information with friends, family and co-workers. There are non-lethal alternatives for rodent control and Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care will be happy to offer information and help solve problems.

Editor's Note: Learn more about Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care and how to help or donate on their website: eswildlifecare.org

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Prayer to Sierra Spring

Winter’s comforter upon the land melts and is made mutable by the Ram’s warm breath.

Silver and brown rivulets braid their paths around each tree trunk.

What was once winter now weaves its way into the soil where roots awake its sweet moist kiss.

Journeying pass the equinox, the Sun’s redemptive touch stirs within each seed the miracle locked within, the promise of continued birth, growth, fruition, death, and rebirth.

Each plant grows to its individual potential, not knowing its limitations, but driven by the force of eons to become all it possibly can.

Burst forth, oh land, oh Spring, oh soul of life!

Realize with abandon your every possibility.

Dance in the spontaneity of growth, each root extending into the sweet loam one cell at a time, each stem the loving conductor, each amazingly leaf the solar collector, the food provider, the respirator.

And, oh, the crowning kiss of a flower, a journey into which reveals a world of
unimaginable beauty, a Georgia O'Keeffe exploration down the throat of an iris,
colors undefinable with our eyes.

Oh, to see ultraviolet like the bees!

Thank you, Spring and sun and flower and sweet Creator

For each leaf is a palm uplifted in a silent prayer of thanksgiving to you.

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Field Trip Report:
McNally Canal near Laws, January 26

Hawks along McNally Canal have often stopped Auduboners in their tracks. This morn under clearing skies our party of ten walkers halted for Harriers, a Kestrel, a Prairie Falcon, a Sharp-shinned Hawk – and for a local photographer who has made this area his "beat" and who shared his superb prints of raptors with us. Nuttall's Woodpeckers and a Kingfisher sported the reddish tones of their respective genders. The usual large numbers of wintering sparrows escaped us. From "bare, ruined choirs" hung several exposed nests built by orioles of old.

We finished the birding at Farmer's Pond, whose low waters supported no visible ducks. But a Golden Eagle and a Bald Eagle allowed study of subadult plumages.

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Field Trip Report:
Winter Wildlife Tour, February 23

Western Screech-Owl

Western Screech-Owl, photo by Tom Heindel

A large group of rugged individualists turned out for the field trip in spite of the weather report. Hey, we live in the Owens Valley…we're used to wind. The morning began with a slight breeze, Kodachrome blue skies (that's a film that used to be used in the last century) and no clouds. While meeting the group, telescopes were set up on one of the resident pair of Red-shouldered Hawks that surveys the agricultural field at the intersection of Hwy 395 and 168, just across the street from the campground. This is arguably the most beautiful hawk in North America, although one gentleman offered that the Harris's Hawk deserved that title! Instead of heading directly to Klondike Lake, as is the usual beginning spot, a stake-out owl was nearby and the decision was made to try for that first. Fourteen cars caravaned to Dewey Street where we parked and walked to the tree snag and there it was! Some birders had trouble seeing it because of the camouflage but once the telescopes were trained on it everybody feasted on the Western Screech-Owl until satiated. That is all but one woman, to whom we offered to pick her up at noon since she couldn't get enough of watching the owl watch the largest group of human beings it had ever seen.

We left for Klondike Lake where we were treated to a variety of ducks, grebes, and gulls. All of a sudden the birders went electric as a flock of American White Pelicans, the first of spring, coasted right overhead heading north. We were hopeful they would land on the lake but after circling to gain some altitude they reset their wings and continued north. A flock of pelicans never fails to impress us mere mortals who always burst into the "Ohhhh, Ahhhhh, Wow!" song. We crossed Hwy 395 and drove out Reynolds Road to County Road and stopped at the Great Blue Heron rookery. There were about ten birds on or near last-year's nests that arrived after 13 February and before 19 February this year. Full-scope views transformed this pale gray bird into a myriad of grays and blues with black, bridal plumes worn as a hat. While watching the heronry we all noticed what looked like white smoke billowing up near Westgard Pass and being blown south. Then Glass Mountain to the north began disappear behind a fog/dirt bank. The skies overhead lost their blue as the wind began to gain energy. We returned to the cars to drive down the Big Pine canal road and the trees began to whip, the dirt over the agricultural fields began its flight, and the wind began to wail. Needless to say, the trip was over but everybody kept on trying to pry out just a few more birds.

We stopped at the Paiute Sewage Pond and were treated to a nice raft of Ring-necked Ducks plus a few other duck species. By now it was hard to define the crests both east and west of us. We headed south along the canal to the Fish Springs Fish Hatchery and chased up two Belted Kingfishers as we raced down the road. It was difficult to open car doors, or once opened, difficult to keep them from being ripped off the hinges, as we exited to see if anything was hiding in the canal. Coots and a couple of ducks but absolutely everything else was buried from view and hopefully, the full force of the gale. We said goodbye to most of the group and made a quick stop at Tinemaha Reservoir with the few who would not give in to the wind. When we said that we'd stay on the lower road to the edge of the reservoir instead of heading up to the top of the overlook, a tall, thin, wisp of a gentleman said, "Thank you…if I went up there I'd be in Lone Pine in 5 minutes!" Surprisingly, we found a doughnut hole where the wind was calm. But the reservoir was still so choppy that seeing what was there taxed everybody and using a telescope was out of the question. We were able to see a flock of white birds and shortly the group of American White Pelicans lifted up into the wind and on counting them we found the exact number, eighty, that were at Klondike Lake. Did they continue north until they hit the Wind Wall and then decided to return to the reservoir where they likely spent the night? They didn't take off until we noticed the mountain crests coming into view and some of the blue returning to the skies but the wind still whipped the water. They circled up to gain altitude and were slowing moving south as they rode the wind upwards but where they decided to go next is a mystery since this hardy band of birders decided to call it a day. On the way home Rick Scott, of Curve-billed Thrasher fame, pointed out a Turkey Vulture to us, the first of spring! Where did it come from? Time in the field guarantees you time in the books to answer the questions that occur as a result of the events you see and try to understand.

Birders on the Winter Wildlife Tour

"Large group of rugged individualists" enjoying the Winter Wildlife Tour

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2012 Bird-A-Thon Was For the Birds!

Thank you to everyone who supported our 2012 Bird-A-Thon. And a big thanks to all of the Bishop Christmas Count birders who tallied so many birds. The more species found, the more money raised. Eastern Sierra Audubon programs will benefit greatly from such generous giving. The total was an amazing $1,189!

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Taking Care of Business




Welcome New and Rejoining Members!

Thank you to the following members who joined or renewed their membership! It's quite a large number this time, and that is great news, and even better, many of them joined/renewed as Chapter Members.

We'd like to take a moment to promote Chapter Memberships: You may not be aware of this, but 100% of Chapter Membership dollars stays locally in the Eastern Sierra, supporting local education, youth, conservation, and programs. If you don't need Audubon Magazine, consider joining or renewing as a Chapter-only member, or better yet, as both Chapter and National! We do get support from National Audubon, as well, so any membership helps, and is money well-spent toward bird and wildlife conservation and education, and we thank you!

  • Linda Arnold
  • Larry and Ruth Blakely
  • Dr. Patricia Brown
  • David H. Carle
  • Kristin Collins
  • Roger DeHart
  • Linda J. Dillon
  • Deana Dulen
  • Judy & Richard Erb
  • Liz Graham
  • Lacey Greene
  • Tom and Rosanne Higley
  • Mr. Harry E. Hardebeck
  • Marilyn Hoijer
  • Peter Hoijer
  • Doug Howell
  • Cheryl L. Howerton
  • Frances A. Hunt
  • Susan Jackson
  • Bob Jellison
  • Jerry A. Jouret
  • Clive Kent
  • Ulla Lipp
  • Mr. Mark Long
  • Carolyn Lynch
  • Steve McLaughlin & and Jan Bowers
  • Peter Metropulos
  • Sally Miller
  • Dennis and Barbara Phillips
  • Mr. & Mrs. Michael Prather
  • Janet Reeling
  • Maggie Riley
  • John W. Ruopp
  • Genesis Schat
  • Karen Scott
  • Sara Steck
  • Hank Stoutz
  • Len Taylor
  • Bob & Leilani Thornburg
  • Trish Walthall
  • Mr. & Mrs. Bryce Wheeler
  • James Wilson
  • Jerry Wise
  • Ann Zack

Your membership donations help keep this chapter alive. We get 8-10 renewing members a month, and from 3-5 new members. Your membership dues make it possible for us to offer and support great educational and recreational events throughout the eastern Sierra. Thank you!

If you would like to join and help support Eastern Sierra Audubon, there are two ways you can do it:

  1. Join as a National Audubon Society Member, designating ESAS as your chapter affiliation. Includes Audubon Magazine subscription. This is $20 for the first year, and goes up to $35 annually thereafter.
  2. Join as an ESAS Chapter-only Member for $20 per year. 100% of your donation stays here in the Eastern Sierra this way. Your chapter membership is a way to give back, and show your appreciation for all that ESAS does, and to help support our mission locally. Your membership helps pay for scholarships, programs, special events, education programs, research, and more. THANK YOU for your support!

Click Here for a membership form to join or renew!

Join National Audubon - your zip code will associate you with the chapter nearest you.

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How You Can Help ESAS: Four R’s (and a V)

Renew your membership (or join): The money from your membership dues is what helps us bring great evening programs, special events, - educational programs, trips, this website, and more to the community - we need your support!

Recycle at Manor Market and tell them to donate the money to Eastern Sierra Audubon.

Respect property and get permission to bird on private or restricted access property.

Repeat: Spread the word about programs and events, encourage others to join and participate.

Volunteer: Come to a board meeting and consider volunteering for an open board position! We welcome new board members, and we also always need volunteers for Birds in the Classroom, participants in bird counts, Bird-A-Thons, etc.

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Message from the Editor


Our next newsletter deadline will be April 25th for the May-June issue, and of course you are always welcome to send submissions for future newsletters and also the monthly email at any time.

We send out no more than one email each month to remind you of upcoming events - if you are not on our email list, please add yourself so you don’t miss anything!

If you send items to the newsletter editor by the last week of any month, we’ll make sure they get included in the next issue.

All of our content is supplied by our awesome members... if you have any ideas about articles you’d like to see, or better yet, if you have anything to share for newsletter publication, whether an article, a news item, update, correction, poem, essay, artwork, photo, field trip report, neat birding experience, letter, etc, please send it, along with any comments or suggestions, to the newsletter editor. We’d love to hear from you!

You may send items for inclusion in the newsletter at any time, but please send any timely items to arrive before the first of the month, so they can be included in the monthly email update.

Thanks for reading, and happy birding!

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About Eastern Sierra Audubon

Current Board Members


Main Calendar of Events

Calendar for March and April

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Calendar for March and April

Mountain Lion

"Not a Bird" - seen by Kristie Nelson in her front yard
Could this be an entry in the Great Backyard Bird Count? Do you think E-Bird would accept this documentation? :)

birders at Owens Lake