Tag archives: birds

The 123rd Annual Christmas Bird Count
By Joanne Calitri   |   January 17, 2023

The best time to join the Santa Barbara Audubon Society is at its annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), where anyone from hobbyist to serious ornithologist can contribute data locally that is then forwarded nationally to track the various bird species, their migratory paths, and population findings. Birds have long been regarded as a barometer for […]

Lots of Hugging
By Chuck Graham   |   January 17, 2023

We hugged the crumbly west cliff face of Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel Island with no expectations from the seat of our kayaks. From afar, we couldn’t see any wildlife, but we could clearly hear first-year northern elephant seals snorting and bellowing on distant pocket beaches concealed along the rocky shoreline. I was paddling with […]

Feigning Injury
By Chuck Graham   |   November 8, 2022

Down on the Carpinteria State Beach, between the mouth of the Carpinteria Creek and southeast of the Tarpits, a nesting colony of western snowy plovers continues to grow on the popular summertime beach. Nesting season is March 15 to September 15, and in 2021, the first successful western snowy plover nest since 1960 saw three […]

Island Refuge
By Chuck Graham   |   October 11, 2022

The translucent, salty ocean droplets rolled off its velvety sheen feathers, glistening like crystal clear marbles as it streamed off the back of a wayward Pacific Loon. It was early summer 2022. Typically, not a time to catch a glimpse of a seabird that should’ve been well north, maybe even as far north as Alaska […]

Cypress Junction
By Chuck Graham   |   August 9, 2022

First, it was their undeniable kyeer, kyeer. Then a blur of red and orange instantly diverted me toward their lofty refuge, 30 feet up the sturdy trunk of a Monterey cypress. Swooping to and from, the pair of northern flickers worked at a feverish pace readying their nest for their impending brood. This cypress stands […]

Gone Owls
By Chuck Graham   |   July 26, 2022

The prominent sandstone rock outcropping was riddled with gritty alcoves, clefts, lofty ledges, and shadowy caves. As I scanned with binoculars for any feathered occupants, I found five barn owls nesting in the upper reaches of this remote, sandstone cathedral. However, there was something else that caught my attention while attempting to conceal themselves 20 […]

Keystone Ocean Species Is in Crisis
By Montecito Journal   |   May 31, 2022

On Saturday, May 14, an unusual influx of emaciated, weak, and hypothermic brown pelicans began arriving at the Wildlife Hospital at the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (SBWCN). The amount of pelicans that are being rescued and delivered are increasing at a daily rate, but the cause of their condition is still unknown.  There are […]

Bird Talk — Abandonment: When Bad Things Happen to Good Birds
By Leslie Crane Rugg   |   May 17, 2022

Relinquishing an exotic pet bird is rarely ideal, but an owner admitting they have run out of options to handle the full-time needs of a mature parrot is honest and very real. Most people are unprepared for the possessive commitment a parrot exhibits toward its owner or other beloved family member. When that commitment can’t […]

A Response to Water and Sanitary Districts Consolidation
By Montecito Journal   |   April 26, 2022

Bob Hazard’s recent piece, “Should the Montecito Water and Sanitary Districts Consolidate?” needs a host of corrections, out of respect for the intelligence (and ratepayer costs) of the citizens of Montecito, particularly Water District customers. As part of the “Montecito Water Security Team,” Hazard praises a number of studies – MORE STUDIES – on studies […]

Meet Darby
By Leslie Crane Rugg   |   April 19, 2022

Impulse. Illogic. Emotionalism. These human qualities are the ones not to rely on when considering an exotic animal as a pet. Exotics may be beautiful, talented, and rare, but they are also living creatures – not commodities or toys. Too often they are kept captive at the whimsy and even cruelty of their owners, looking […]

Taking the Plunge
By Chuck Graham   |   March 1, 2022

While kayaking and circumnavigating the Salton Sea’s 110 miles of coastline in California’s southeastern corner, the winter climes were a mild 75 degrees, and the salty waters were beyond silky smooth.  It was so clear I could see a massive flock of American white pelicans two miles off in the distance resting peacefully on the […]

The 122nd Annual Christmas Bird Count 2022
By Joanne Calitri   |   February 15, 2022

Our beloved annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on Saturday, January 1, with over 200 volunteers ringing in New Year’s Day by counting our area’s birds for the Santa Barbara Audubon’s submission to the National Audubon data bank. Although it was a sunny and normal cold temperature for the count, the head birders shared […]

Feeding the Flock
By Steven Libowitz   |   February 3, 2022

The COVID crisis has been quite a challenge for nearly everyone in the world. But for Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary – the nonprofit founded in 2004 by director Jamie McLeod to rescue and often rehabilitate unwanted and displaced companion parrots – the pandemic really has been for the birds. Or rather, not so much, as […]

Migrant Trap
By Chuck Graham   |   January 18, 2022

I was sitting patiently on a hillside within Scorpion Canyon on Santa Cruz Island, the most biodiverse isle in the Channel Islands National Park. It was mid-morning, and all was quiet in early November 2021. It was dry and warm, and the deer flies were having their way with me, as I overlooked a fruitful […]

First Encounter
By Chuck Graham   |   January 4, 2022

I chose a broad sandstone stage, dropped my camera pack, and kicked back on the gritty slab in the Sierra Madre Mountains of the Los Padres National Forest. It was the spring of 1997, and the sun was shining overhead with intermittent puffy clouds drifting north to south. My hands were behind my head and […]

On Foot and by Paddle
By Chuck Graham   |   October 5, 2021

Timing the surge of an incoming tide took me to the backend of the Morro Bay Estuary. Paddling my standup paddleboard, I glided effortlessly through serpentine-like channels choked in colorful pickleweed. Flanked by massive Morro Rock to the north, the rest of the seven sisters lied ahead, prominent rocky spires that fortify the backend of […]

Bitter Creek Chronicles: California Condors Put on a Show
By Chuck Graham   |   September 21, 2021

There wasn’t much going on at the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge (NWF). I was laying in the grassy, rolling hills of this California Condor sanctuary, and I was waiting for something to stir. It was mid-afternoon and thermal updrafts were just beginning to waft skyward when a solitary condor rose above the refuge like […]

‘Mystery Bird’: Getting to Know the Ashy Storm Petrel
By Chuck Graham   |   September 7, 2021

It was 9:30 pm, and I was kayaking out to Scorpion Rock, a half-mile east of Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island. I was meeting up with several nocturnal seabird biologists finishing their last round of mist netting for 2021 of the secretive ashy storm petrels on the Channel Islands National Park. If I didn’t […]

A-03 Has Arrived: Bald Eagles on the Channel Islands National Park
By Chuck Graham   |   August 12, 2021

The manic cacophony of western gulls was too frantic to pass up, diverting my attention span toward drama-filled blue skies as a keystone species buzzed a prominent, weather-beaten seabird rookery. As I kayaked toward the commotion, I soon realized I was in the presence of an apex predator wreaking havoc over Scorpion Rock near the […]

In Real Life Version of The Birds, Swift Thinking Saves Hundreds in Montecito
By Gretchen Lieff   |   May 13, 2021

It’s Monday in Montecito, KEYT is predicting a high of 75 degrees, and the winds have finally blown out of the area. I look toward the garden where overnight gusts have left plenty of oak and eucalyptus debris to keep my broom busy. I decide to hit the phones early, answering the rescue line for […]