Conservation Conversation

By Garry George

Swainson's Hawk, Photo © Tom Grey 13MAWT CC SwainsonsHawk


In my role as Renewable Energy Director for Audubon California I have the opportunity to comment on solar and wind projects in California on behalf of Audubon and jointly with chapters. Our comments on a large solar project in the Antelope Valley and the cooperation of Kern County Planning Department and Renewable Resources Group and SunPower, the developers, have yielded mitigation in the amount of 1800 acres of permanent protection for prime ranch habitat on Portal Ridge, an LA County Sensitive Ecological Area (SEA), and more mitigation lands to come in Kern County.  This was inspired by Pete Bloom’s presentation at LA Audubon some time ago, and Pete has been a valuable partner in advising on conservation of this State threatened species which has adapted to agriculture in the Central and Antelope Valleys.  The Antelope Valley population is the southernmost nesting population in California.


LA Audubon supported San Fernando Valley Audubon’s Kris Ohlenkamp and Dave Weeshoff in their advocacy at the Army Corps of Engineers to take responsibility for their destruction of one of our favorite birding spots and a restoration project we have been involved in for over thirty years as a member of the Sepulveda Wildlife Basin Committee. Kris will bring all the Southern California chapters up to date at the Chapter Council meeting at El Dorado Nature Center on March 16, 2013, beginning at 9 am. All are invited to come and hear how we can support Kris and SFV Audubon as they work hard to restore what was lost.


This winter we were pleasantly surprised to find that our 18 years of letting leaf litter stay on the ground is paying off in resources for wintering ground birds. Sooty Fox Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, California Towhee and five White-crowned Sparrows were all seen in the backyard for the first winter in 20 years. They were all scratching in the ground along with Hermit Thrush. The wintering flock all bathe at least once a day: Blk-throated Gray, Orange-crowned, Townsend’s, and of course nosy Yellow-rumped warblers along with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a singing Bewick’s Wren all inhabit the jungle that has grown in back and front. The resident Bushtits, W. Scrub-jay and Black Phoebe still visit. KILL YOUR LAWN!


Published in the Mar/Apr 2013 Western Tanager Vol 79 No. 4.