Tag archives: birds

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 […]

Black Swans: Chaos Surrounds Discovery and Ultimate Capture of Black Swans in SB Harbor
By Gretchen Lieff and Nick Masuda   |   May 13, 2021

The phones at both the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network and Santa Barbara Zoo were quite busy over the weekend and into Tuesday — there were a handful of Australian Black Swans hanging out in the Santa Barbara Harbor, a sight never seen on the South Coast. That ended abruptly on Tuesday afternoon when Julia […]

The Birds
By Leslie Westbrook   |   April 29, 2021

It appears to be something out of the Alfred Hitchcock flick The Birds for residents on Finney Street on the Summerland cliffs. The nesting cormorants who have been chased off of the eucalyptus grove aside the 101 with mylar balloons have changed just moved nesting plans just down the beach. People are pissed. Much more […]

Flash of Blue
By Chuck Graham   |   April 8, 2021

From my kayak I could hear the distinctly harsh shek-shek-shek of the island scrub jay, a songbird that has the smallest range of any bird in North America. As I paddled west along the tranquil northerly shore of Santa Cruz Island, my periphery caught a flash of blue through my 300mm lens streaking through a […]

Deterring the Birds in Summerland
By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   March 4, 2021

With ongoing construction on the Sheffield Drive bridge as part of the Highway 101 widening project, many drivers have noticed mylar streamers and balloons in the eucalyptus trees on the nearby bluffs. Both the Audubon Society and Heal the Ocean have received many concerns over what looks like broken mylar balloons in the trees. Kirsten […]

The 121st Annual SB Audubon Christmas Bird Count
By Joanne A Calitri   |   February 11, 2021

All things bright, beautiful, and birds are well noted even during our cold winter lockdown, thanks to the Santa Barbara Audubon Society, who decided to hold its annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) after weighing in on all the variants. The team organized the count with proper precautions and rules in place, including masking, distancing, and […]

High Plains Paddling
By Chuck Graham   |   December 10, 2020

The stoic gentleman at the Mono Lake visitor center studied me like a deputy sheriff during a roadside sobriety test. “You can die out there,” he said deadpan. “Folks paddle out there and they don’t come back. The winds come from out of nowhere and catch people off guard.” I did my damnedest to convince […]

My Wandering Pilgrim
By Chuck Graham   |   November 19, 2020

My early morning trail run up to Montanon Ridge on the southeast end of Santa Cruz Island was at a pace I wasn’t proud of. Cold, wet fog swirled over the volcanic isle. My joints ached but loosened with each stride above Potato Harbor, then Coche Point, and finally ascending above Chinese Harbor. Stunning seascapes […]

Virtual Vacation to Honduras
By Leslie Westbrook   |   November 19, 2020

We could all use a virtual vacation. Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary board member Leslie Rugg reached out to me enthusiastically via email to get the word out about the parrot haven and rescue center in Summerland whose director of the Sanctuary is longtime Montecito resident Jamie McLeod. Birds with chronic conditions remain at the Sanctuary […]

Digging In
By Chuck Graham   |   August 20, 2020

The nameless dirt road turned out to be a nighttime buffet for a squadron of opportunistic burrowing owls. It was all about the crickets and grasshoppers, a menagerie of entomology living in the tall grasses and the cunning eight-inch-tall owls gobbling down as many as they could before taking a break. As I inched forward […]

Giving a Hoot
By Gretchen Lieff   |   August 13, 2020

Owls have long lived in my most favorite category. Their stoic demeanor. Their wisdom. The intensity of the screech owl’s screech, the trills and lonely melodic resonance of the great horned owl’s “hoot hoots,” and the barn owl’s hissing rasp. Twice this week the California Highway Patrol rescued owls hit by a car along Highway […]

The Nesting Ground
By Chuck Graham   |   August 6, 2020

The Santa Clara River Estuary was a graveyard of tattered driftwood, tangled kelp balls, a rotting sea lion carcass that was so putrid it could only attract a pair of turkey vultures. A high ceiling of overcast kept the early morning comfortably cool. The sand was coarse and gritty, perfect for breeding and nesting western […]

Sheryl Crow
By Gretchen Lieff   |   July 2, 2020

I was a “Secret Garden” … “Green Mansions” kind of child. Deep forests, bright brooks, wide fields, and ocean waves beckoned my young exuberance. On the seldom occasions that an adult might be missing me, I would be found deep in the forest, grabbing minnows and crayfish from a tiny creek under the redwoods, or […]

Letters to the Editor
By Montecito Journal   |   June 4, 2020

There it Is. Take It. In regard to Nick Schou’s article about securing a dependable water source for Montecito. I am reminded of Mulholland’s famous words as the water filled the L.A. aqueduct for the first time, “There it is. Take it.” Only I am gazing out to the ocean. We have the most sensible […]

The 120th Annual Christmas Bird Count
By Joanne A Calitri   |   March 19, 2020

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the longest running citizen science survey in the world, with origins dating to December 1900 when ornithologist Frank Chapman asked people to count birds not hunt them for sport at Christmas time. This shift began an international bird species count to help birds repopulate that had begun to decline […]

Three Billion Birds Lost
By Joanne A Calitri   |   March 19, 2020

A most pivotal lecture of our time was presented at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on January 29, titled, “Three Billion Birds Lost: The Disappearance of North American Birds and What We Can Do About It.”The standing room-only lecture was given by renowned scientist and author, Kenneth Rosenberg, who works at the Cornell […]