Christmas Bird Count 2018, Anstine Audubon Preserve in Vista. Our small group climbs a hill and checks for birds. Craning my neck, I mutter, “I hear Cedar Waxwings.”  We all start scanning the tops of trees, the sky, in all directions. Nowhere to be seen. As the enumerator, I could just mark down “1” and…

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When I used to monitor nestboxes, I would listen carefully as I approached a box, trying to hear what birds were in the area.  One especially bubbly, bouncing song would alert me to potential problems for the other cavity nesters in the vicinity. A 21st-century “troglodyte”—a.k.a. a House Wren—was looking to set up housekeeping.  …

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Anyone who enjoys bird song dreads summer’s end as a bit of an auditory desert. But if you live near California Thrashers, you can take heart. These songsters will actually begin ramping up their voices again in late August.   Slightly larger than a California Scrub-Jay, a California Thrasher features a long, heavy, and distinctly…

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Wildfire and wildlife—what’s the first image that comes to your mind?  I’m 7 years old, sitting in a darkened movie theater, watching the fire scene in the Disney animated classic Bambi.  Birds, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, our protagonist deer all flee through scorching embers, swirling smoke, and crashing, flaming branches.  That scene seemed to last for…

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Feeding hummingbirds can be simple and inexpensive.  Here’s a time- and hummer-tested recipe. Use a 1-to-4 ratio of white table sugar to water (for example, ¼ cup of sugar to 1 cup of water).  Don’t use honey, brown sugar, organic cane sugar, artificial sweeteners—just table sugar. Heat the water in the microwave; in my microwave,…

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BVAS is excited to announce our Design-a-Bookmark Contest for this year’s Endangered Species Day. Please see this flyer for complete information. Age groups: 12 and under, 12-17 years, and over 18.  Sizes should be between 2”x 7” and 2.75”x 8.5”. Bookmark should feature one or more of California’s endangered and/or threatened plant or animals (see…

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In the 1920s, an American ornithologist called this bird “our native aristocrat—unruffled by the operations of the human plebs…”   In that same decade, an avian researcher proclaimed that these birds practiced communism. More recently, their social behavior has been likened to a noisy avian Keystone Cops routine, featuring loud calling, bobbing, wing displaying, and jockeying…

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Just before my shift started, I walked into the baby bird room at the wildlife rehabilitation center. A distinctive sound ringing through the room—”WEE-urrr, WEE-urrr”—transported me back more than five years and 1,000 miles. The soundtrack of late summer in the pinyon-juniper habitat of our previous home in the Colorado mountains—baby Black-headed Grosbeaks were in…

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