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Condor cam, live action | Cornell Lab Bird Cams

June 12, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale, links supplied/suggested by Julie Bongers]

When I posted this on Friday, 6-11-21, the large nestling was eating something. It’s developing a neck ruff. Map of Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, north of Fillmore, CA, below.

From the video site:

The California Condor cam is a collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Thanks for watching!
This condor nest, known as the Huttons Bowl nest, is located in a remote canyon near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. This season features ten-year-old female #594 and fifteen-year-old male #374, a newly established pair who have been tending to their single chick #1075 that hatched on April 10.

Female condor #594 previously paired with male condor #462 in 2018 and 2020, successfully fledging one chick each year. Her previous mate is still alive and tending to their fledgling from last year. Male condor #374 is an experienced parent with six nesting attempts under his belt. He has successfully fledged four chicks in previous years—three of which are still alive today. Unfortunately, his previous mate was lost over the past year before pairing up with #594.

The Huttons Bowl nest site was last featured on the California Condor cam in 2018 when male #374 and his former mate successfully raised their chick (#923) to fledge.

Link to 17 other Cornell Lab bird live bird cams: kestrels, hawks, Panama fruit feeder, ospreys, tropicbirds, albatrosses, petrels, West Texas and more.

Upstream: searching for wild salmon from river to table | Book suggestion

June 10, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]
[Suggested by Carol Prismon-Reed, our correspondent in Washington State]

Our lives are forever bound to water, and wild salmon are the canaries in our watery coal mine. Where wild salmon exist, so do healthy watersheds. Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon from River to Table is author Langdon Cook’s love letter to salmon. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this book is worth your time, not just because you may love fish, but because all of us can learn much from vibrant, wild places.

— Mark Paxton, Director of Development for Carol’s local library in Washington, where everyone knows and cares about salmon.

Link to book on Penguin Random House

About Upstream

Finalist for the Washington State Book Award • From the award-winning author of The Mushroom Hunters comes the story of an iconic fish, perhaps the last great wild food: salmon.

For some, a salmon evokes the distant wild, thrashing in the jaws of a hungry grizzly bear on TV. For others, it’s the catch of the day on a restaurant menu, or a deep red fillet at the market. For others still, it’s the jolt of adrenaline on a successful fishing trip. Our fascination with these superlative fish is as old as humanity itself. Long a source of sustenance among native peoples, salmon is now more popular than ever. Fish hatcheries and farms serve modern appetites with a domesticated “product”—while wild runs of salmon dwindle across the globe. How has this once-abundant resource reached this point, and what can we do to safeguard wild populations for future generations? more…

Terns & drones at Bolsa Chica | Los Angeles Times

June 8, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

Today’s Los Angeles Times has a front page article about the Elegant Tern mass abandonment of nests at Bolsa Chica, caused by a crashing drone. The birds did not return to their nests, but drones still plow the sky.

Drone wipes out generation of birds
Thousands of Elegant Terns fled Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve at the May 12 crash. | Los Angeles Times | Alex Wigglesworth | June 8 , 2021

The photo & caption below, included with the printed version of the article, contain several errors. Can you spot them?

If you see dogs or drones in protected areas where they ought not to be, call California Fish & Wildlife: CAL-TIP 888-334-2258

The Orange County bird-chat hot line carried the following important and informative message from an astute local birder, writer’s name omitted [emphasis added].

I see from the article that “the state is also hoping to work with federal authorities to ensure that airspace over the reserve and other sensitive areas is listed as restricted.” The problem is that drone operators use an FAA app that shows them where they can fly, and on the app the bird area is “green.”

I called the FAA to find out who the contact is, so I can write a letter in support of the FAA changing the online map to whatever it is when it is not green. This person told me that the contact person for getting the app map changed would be David May….FAA employees are still working from home, so the best way to reach him is by email,

I’m planning to write a letter saying I understand the state may be working with him or his department already, but that I also want to express my support for changing the map so that there is no ambiguity for drone operators (app says one thing, signs say another).

The following day (9-Jun-21) I received this message from DJAustin:

Sent an email to David May and he replied he had nothing to do with LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) but he would see what he could do to help.

UPDATE: I sent an email to David May, who replied on 6/10/21 [emphasis added]:

Thanks for reaching out and the work you do in protecting our wildlife.

I am an FAA employee and I work in the UAS Office but I am not involved in this incident.  I did hear about it earlier this week however and know that it is being investigated.  I am hoping the person responsible is identified and action is taken.   

I did look at a VFR Sectional Chart (used by manned pilots that are not flying solely by instruments) and can see that much of Northern California along the coast has NOAA Regulated areas called National Maritime Sanctuary Designated Areas.  I am not sure the history of how this was established but it might be worth pursuing.  Also, do you happen to know if the Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) is a protected species (either Federal or State)?  I contacted one of our lawyers who works environmental issues and want to give her as many options as possible.  

I then sent David some additional info on Elegant Tern status and population.

Also on 6/10/21 from Orange County Birder Leila:

I learned it’s not an F.A.A. map, it’s an F.A.A.-approved phone app called AirMap which is what local drone operators use. My next research step will be to find out if there are other drone apps, or does pretty much everybody use AirMap.

A few highlights of the L.A. Times article:

  • About 3,000 Elegant Terns abandoned nests
  • 1,500 – 2,000 eggs left behind, none viable
  • Current location of birds that fled is unknown
  • Drone crashed 5/12/21
  • Problems continue with bicyclists, dogs, dog waste, drones and car break-ins (break-ins previously reported here)
  • Drones not permitted above state wildlife reserves
  • Reserve supports 800 species including 300 species of birds
  • 23 Special status species, including: Ridgeway’s Rail, Western Snowy Plover, California Least Tern
  • Terns normally arrive in April, finish nesting & leave by August
  • Bolsa Chica one of four known nesting sites for Elegant Terns
  • Operator of crashed drone found and cited
  • Another drone flew over manager Melissa Lobel while being interviewed by KABC-TV last Thursday

Flying drones over Bolsa Chica cause thousands of terns to abandon eggs

June 4, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is well known among SoCal birders for the many birds wintering there, but the big numbers show up in the spring when the terns come to nest. I believe that as many as ten species of tern have appeared there, although not all nest. Some just drop by because they see so many other terns coming and going.

Readers of our blog know that flying helicopter drones is illegal in many places—all of Malibu for starters, and State Parks as well. Yet people break these laws daily. They always claim ignorance, but when you tell them it’s illegal and they shouldn’t do it, they often tell you where to go in no uncertain terms. So it’s not just ignorance that’s at work here.

In May several drones were seen flying over the Bolsa Chica nesting area. One crashed, and authorities are tracking down the owner. Apparently this spooked the birds so badly that nests were abandoned—some reports say 1,500 nests, some say 2,000, others say 3,000—and the nesting sands are littered with broken eggshells.

Here’s a link to an AP story on the US News website:

Some 3,000 elegant tern eggs were abandoned at a Southern California nesting island after a drone crashed and scared off the birds.

And another on the local Daily News website, which may or may not be accessible to you.

Lastly, the New York Times from June 4.

Trimming your trees in SoCal

June 4, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

Our friendly neighboring Audubon Chapter, Los Angeles Audubon Society, has a handy booklet on tree-trimming do’s and don’t when birds are, or may be, using them for nesting or roosting. You can print your own 6-page copy for free by following the link below.

On our SMBAS blog site in the right-side column of web-links, look under “Plant Links” for “Tree-trimming in SoCal.”

Or go to “Urban Nature Resources,” scroll down to Bird-Friendly Tree Trimming, and select either English or Spanish.

Los Angeles County has more than 350 species of birds that live, nest, or pass through during annual migrations, and there are more than 120 species that live here year-round. Therefore, maintaining adequate green space for birds is critical. Birds are beautiful, economically important, and they are a bellwether of the health of our environment.

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