Audubon Field Notes
MIDDLE PACIFIC COAST REGION
1 June - 31 July 2037
American English version
As has become the norm over the past several decades, the Region experienced hot and settled weather on the heels of a stormy Spring. Daytime highs as far north as Crescent City were 2DF above the long-term average, while highs in Greater Siliclara were fully 4DF warmer.
As smaller bodies of water created during spring flooding evaporated, Regional waterbirds became increasingly concentrated at the larger flood-control reservoirs, particularly Lake Lott near Modesto. Coverage of the w. portion of the newly-stabilized North Kern Marsh Reserve from accessible shoreline points revealed a sharp increase in numbers of Little Blue Egrets and Black Skimmers, evidently in response to Mosquito-fish (Gambusia) increases over the past several years.
In an era so characterized by Governmental disregard for preservation of noncommercial biota, it is perhaps to be expected that official word of the apparent loss of an Inconvenienced Non- Harvest Population has again been hanforded by the Expedited Resources Secretary. We have learned only at press time of the destruction of the last remaining habitat for Binford's Sparrow, lost due to construction of yet another autologous dermal graft cloning center in San Mateo. Regional birders are again urged to consider the entrenched power of the Wise Gaia movement. We suggest you vote as often as possible in opposition to their platform whenever lottery on-line time has again cycled to your community.
The Arctic Diver that wintered at Bodega Harbor was last reported May 29. A basic-plumaged White-billed Diver at the e. end of the Dumbarton Bridge-Tunnel July 8 was clearly summering. Two exceptional summer reports of Great Northern Diver were received, of three birds at Crescent City Harbor 11-18 June and one at Mono Lake 26 June. This species formerly was detected annually in June and July. One observer notes that 'scissor-billed' or 'sickle- billed' Black-necked Grebes have not only increased in the C.V. and in s. S.F. Bay, but appear to be reproducing at a rate greater than that of normal-billed individuals. Is this peculiar but surprisingly successful subpopulation targetting a particular prey species?
The site-faithful ad. Short-tailed Albatross, 'Left Green Green', continued present about the Laysan Albatross colony on Ano Nuevo I., San Mateo, for its sixth year, once again without having attracted a mate. Laysans were noted as having had "a great season" at Ano Nuevo. Protection measures resulted in each of the 48 chicks produced surviving to fledging. Conversely, three of the nine pairs of Laysans prospecting once again on Southeast Farallon I. suffered losses to gulls. An ad. Laysan with red paint on its forehead spent June 3- EOP+ around the north end of the North Kern Marsh Reserve, though only occasionally close enough to shore points to be detected. A subadult Shy Albatross beyond Cordell Banks July 21 furnished the only report of this now nearly-annual species. A Wedge-tailed Shearwater, becoming more regular in c. California waters in the past 10-15 years, was reported without details over Cordell Banks 21 July. Most surprising was the report of a Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel captured and banded on Prince I., Del Norte, June 30. The bird had a vascularized brood patch and, if breeding, would represent the first positive Regional nesting record in more than 20 years. Ashy Storm-Petrels continue to chart new waters in S.F. Bay, as evidenced by 6-7 seen during the day July 3 about Alcatraz I., and two July 15 opposite Desalinization Plant #4 in Alameda. Wilson's Storm-Petrels peaked at 140-150 on Monterey Bay on several dates in July.
A Brown Pelican picked up dead at L. Almanor July 16 had been banded at Elkhorn Slough as a nestling in 2035. Persistent lack of upwelling provided hardships once again for Pelagic Cormorants. Pairs at the southernmost breeding site, Ano Nuevo I., were unsuccessful, while the scattered pairs farther n. from Sonoma to Del Norte appeared to have indifferent success. Brandt's Cormorants foraging well inside S.F. Bay did well, and they were reported to have again displaced Double-crested Cormorants nesting on the TerraWorld/Australia/U.K. marquee at Richmond, Contra Costa.
At least three, possibly as many as six, dark-morph Red-footed Boobies were sporadically present around F.I. as is now normal. About 20 Magnificent Frigatebirds along the coast from Monterey to Mendocino, June 2- EOP+, along with a female slightly inland at Grizzly I., Solano, July 19, represented expected numbers and timing.
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks appear to be expanding along the Region's southern boundaries. Last year's surprising nesting record in San Benito was not repeated, but four adults accompanying nine mostly-grown young were discovered at Pixley N.W.R., Tulare, July 17. With the increase of this bird in Southern California, we can anticipate further recruitment and colonization.
Despite widespread control efforts, Mute Swans persist in troublesome numbers locally. They are now believed responsible for the diminishment of several marsh-nesting ducks both in the S.F. Bay delta and in Elkhorn Slough, Monterey. In particular, the popularity--and protection--of swans among unenlightened waterfront and over-water dwellers around s. S.F. Bay has thwarted attempts to eliminate these often-destructive exotics. Good news about Com. Mergansers came this summer from the w. slope of the Sierra Nevada, where a female and full-grown brood of twelve ducklings was found on the American R. This is the first positive nesting report on this river in more than 20 years. Scattered ads. and broods were seen on small-flow streams shortly e. of the immediate north coast from n. Sonoma northward to Del Norte, as expected. However, extensive searches for mergansers along the entire Eel R. system down to the upstream end of Inundation Zone Two failed to reveal the presence of this species, historically a common breeding bird there.
Following the discovery of Contra Costa's first N. Goshawk nest last year, four additional nests were brought to light in Summer 2037! However, two of the old-growth stands in which nests were situated were slated for imminent removal after it was found that several forest giants were infested with Gum Blight.
More intriguing Accipiter news involved an ad. Sharp-shinned Hawk photographed in--where else?--Prairie Creek Redwoods Natural Heritage Site, Humboldt, June 9. This was the first Sharp-shinned Hawk documented in summer in California since 2022. Despite bioacoustic focal resonance search, the hawk could not be found again. The discovery further underscores the value of this isolated, unacidified forest parcel in preserving remnant populations of ancestral northern avifauna within California.
The huge gull colony in Martinez shifted nesting this summer to the rooftops of Desalinization Plant #11. Morph composition also shifted, as the usual great majority of (mostly-) Western Gulls was supplanted by increasing numbers of maturing Western X Kelp Gulls and their intergrades. Heermann's Gulls enjoyed high nesting success at Alviso and at Alameda. Of interest is word that a Heermann's Gull banded at Alviso May 18, 2035 was recovered Dec. 19, 2035 at a euphausiid seining station anchored in multi-year sea pack ice 75 nm N of Chemniak I. in the Aleutians. Gull-billed Terns kept a toehold in the Region near Modesto, where sprayed effluent from the sprawling hydrotriticale processing plant has, in recent years, supported meadows with flying insects.
Elegant Tern nests at Elkhorn Slough reached a new high this year with 887, from which about 650 chicks were reported to have fledged. We can surely attribute the continued success of this-- and other piscivorous species--to the full protection accorded anchovy stocks in 2019 by signatory nations of the Pacific Rim Co-Tolerance Sphere. However, the growth of the Elkhorn Slough colony has surely been abetted by the poisoning of exotic Red Foxes by schoolchildren, church groups, the Federation of Honored Boomers' clubs, and other concerned citizenry. Whether for better or worse, locally-regulated gene-specific poisons such as Vulpene appear to be here to stay. Least Terns suffered near-complete loss of chicks at two recently-established colonies in s. Humboldt Bay due to predation by gulls and grackles.
The Great Gray Owl near Hayfork, Trinity, continued present through the EOP+ (eleventh year) and, as California's last known individual of the species, remains stringently protected. Barred Owls made gains once more in Monterey, with two calling males heard in late May and June in the Santa Lucia Mtns. Spotted Owls away from historic sites were few but included a dispersing second-year bird June 22 on F.I., an Islands first. The news for Burrowing Owls at their last known C.V. site, Desalinization Plant #7, Kings, was not encouraging, as vernal flooding once again wiped out attempts at nesting by the remaining three pairs.
Balancing this bad news was the exciting report that the elusive, 'whistled-out' pair of Coast Pygmy-Owls seemingly resident for the past several years in Golden Gate P., S.F., finally were found nesting in May! They fledged four young from a cavity in an old Monkey-Puzzle tree in the abandoned portion of the historic Strybing Arboretum. Access to this site is strictly controlled by the National Guard, owing to the persistent presence of armed disenfranchised.
White-winged Pigeons have apparently come to tolerate the Region's strongly bimodal climate in recent decades, remaining through winter even during the frequent 500-year flood events. Up to 100 at Davis in March had increased to 700+ by mid-June, including fledglings of at least two broods. These birds have made themselves increasingly at home in hybrid lensoy plantations and about blue-green algae processing parks on diked ground in the C.V. Researchers at UC Davis noted a markedly high incidence of cataracts in captured White-winged Pigeons this season, attributed to the persistent ozone hole over central California this season. The ability of visually-impaired birds to orient by local magnetoanomalies --even in the sediment-covered C.V.-- has become the subject of increasing scrutiny. Inca Pigeons apparently no longer frequent the earthworm processing works near Hollister; this species, not long ago a fairly routine local resident in s.e. Monterey and in San Benito, has declined in recent years. A Common Ground-Pigeon photographed at Etna, Siskiyou, July 26 was a great surprise, furnishing the northernmost record for the Region and second-northernmost for the Pacific Coast states and provinces (there exists a lone record for Reifel Refuge, B.C.: Nov. 4-9, 2008).
Pileated Woodpeckers again nested successfully in Prairie Creek Redwoods Natural Heritage Site, where a female and four young were seen June 3. Reports of four other birds in the n. counties carried no supporting documentation. Lewis' Woodpeckers had a banner year in the w. Sierra Nevada foothills, with one birder considering them "a pest species". Their present abundance may diminish, as plans are afoot on the National Silvics Reserves to remove a high percentage of the standing dead timber that has steadily accumulated in recent years owing to Muertopalo. Three- toed Woodpeckers maintained their marginal presence in the Region, as five nests monitored in S. Fork Pine Ck., South Warner Wilderness, Modoc, each fledged 3-5 young in July. Preliminary analysis of tissue made possible by capture of seven birds indicates that very little gene flow is occurring within this highly isolated outlier population, thus placing it at potential risk of compromised viability. Again this season an unconfirmed report was received from e. Trinity. A Black-backed Woodpecker pair clearly exploited effects of Muertopalo this year, raising five young in a recently-killed conifer stand dominated by Gray Pine (!) at the remarkably low elevation of 3200' in Placer.
An E. Kingbird at outer Pt. Reyes July 4 provided the only report. Six W. Kingbirds were found, including one at a site in Tehama where the species nested as recently as 2029. An Ash- throated Flycatcher on F.I. June 6-9 had been banded at Halifax, N.S. during the previous December! This is the third Ash-throated Flycatcher recaptured in California subsequent to banding in the Maritime Provinces. Details will be published elsewhere. Hammond's Flycatchers persist as Regional breeders only in the Klamath Mountains of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity, and were reported from all three counties during the Summer. As if acid- rain effects were not enough, cowbird parasitism has now emerged as a principal threat to this beleagered species. Dusky Flycatchers, conversely, continue to thrive across middle- and higher elevations throughout the w. Sierra Nevada. Late reports from C.V. banding stations revealed that, for the first time ever, this species outnumbered "Western" Flycatcher as the most common migrant Empidonax there this spring. Although this species is a fairly early migrant, birders noted northward passage continuing through May, with three-four still in Reichmuth P., Sacramento, June 2. Clearly, the vigorous regrowth of soft chaparral beneath the Region's failing mountain forest canopies has enabled Dusky Flycatcher to increase dramatically.
A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, the Region's 16th-ever in spring but the first since 2026, turned up at outer Pt. Reyes May 30. As this species has disappeared over most of its breeding range in c. and e. Canada, we might suspect the n. Canadian Rockies as the point of provenance for this waif.
Thirty-six fledgling Purple Martins were released during the Period at hack caves at Lava Beds National Monument, Modoc, with at least half of those birds still accounted for at the EOP. Stunning was the report of a second-year male Purple Martin singing June 5-11 over Palomarin. The bird was unmarked, apparently unaccompanied, and was of unknown origin. Could it have drifted N from relict colony sites on islands in the Golfo de California? For the first time in five years, Tree Swallows definitely bred in the Region, the good news coming from an industrial park on diked ground adjacent to the North Kern Marsh Reserve water command center, where three pairs raised 10+ young from nests situated in lensoy defibering out-takes. The value of our sprawling New Ag plants in providing incidental flying-insect populations cannot be overemphasized.
Use of dense stands of Incense-Cedar snags by Violet-green Swallows on the Stanislaus National Silvics Reserve resulted in high reproduction there this Summer. In addition, numerous pairs of Violet-greens were said to have bred beneath aging energy frames atop the Oracle-MicroSega towers in downtown Siliclara. Always adaptable, Soil Martins burgeoned this Summer at diked 'false ground' earthworks around the NFL Raiders' new arenasino in East Sausalito, Marin, raising an estimated 200 young.
A Chihuahuan Raven found shot in w. Fresno during June provided the third Regional record. This was possibly a pioneering bird originating from the nearest known definitely established population, s. of the Region at Edwards A.F.B., Kern. This remarkably adaptable species, now a frightening new suburban blight for Arizonans in and around Yumix, has seemed poised to expand across the Tehachapis into the south end of the San Joaquin Valley almost since its appearance in California in 2023. Have we finally seen the 'beginning of the end' for our Great- tailed Grackles? Steller's Jays were noted from five sites in the w. Sierra Nevada, where this species has become increasingly difficult to find. They remain locally numerous in less-acidified rain-shadow stands of White Fir on the Sierran e. slope, where birders in Mono considered them "nearly common". Scrub Jays continue to entrench their recent winnings on the north coast. As many as 16 were seen in one day in Eureka, and they were blamed by one observer for usurping long-time haunts of local Mockingbirds. Pinyon Jays were again found breeding well down on the Sierra w. slope in snag stands of Eldorado and Placer, and one was at outer Pt. Reyes June 7-9. This species has become annual in late spring and early summer at select outer-coastal points in Monterey, Marin, and Humboldt. Yellow-billed Magpies nested well n. into the Sacramento Valley this year, perhaps signalling an attempt to begin to reclaim ground lost in the wake of Burmese Drupe Blight. Two nests were discovered July 6 in the Woodland, Yolo, Riparian Reminder P., each of which fledged at least two young. A single bird at the satellite Valley Oak reserve in Corning, July 11-12 furnished the first Tehama report in more than three years.
Encouraging numbers of W. Bluebirds were reported from foothills of the w. Sierra Nevada slope this season. There can be little doubt that acid-rain mortality has worked its perverse charms for this species, it least in the interim, as abundant conifer snags removed from Eur. Starling foraging haunts offer quality breeding habitat. The Region's declining Mtn. Bluebird population continues to exhibit a will-o'-the-wisp character, with 'colonies' shifting from year to year in degraded habitat near the nearly deforested Sierran summits. One observer found them "hanging in there" in e. Mariposa, using natural rock crevices instead of tree cavities. Overshooting Blue-gray Gnatcatchers once again popped up all along the north coast, with the eleven reports from Humboldt and three from Del Norte all from June, and all of single birds, most outside plausible breeding habitat. These early-summer pioneers are plainly spill-over from the burgeoning populations in former Sierran timberlands and, possibly, those lately documented as expanding on the northern C.V. floor in abandoned stone-fruit orchards (see also Oregon Region report, this issue -Ed.). Bucking the trend was the only July report from the north coast, a female carrying food and scolding the observer at the Mattole R. mouth, Humboldt, July 9 (...renest attempt?) This pushes the outer-coastal nesting outpost well beyond the 'colony' present since the early 2020s in foothills just e. of Elk, Mendocino.
Hermit Thrushes were widely reported. Populations established in pine and eucalyptus plantations in the coastal lowlands have fared well, although mid-Sierran birds have taken the brunt of deforestation. Conversely, it was another year of high concern for Swainson's Thrush. Numbers on Breeding Bird Census routes in n.w. California were down 9% for the second consecutive year, and down 7% for the state as a whole (Regional breakdown not available at wire time).
A Wood Thrush singing June 7-8 at Tilden P., S.F., was enjoyed by hundreds of birders, and--fittingly indeed--made the cover of Yet Still The Grace (June 13, 2037). This was the first Regional occurrence since 2025, and marked the first appearance of this Highly-Inconvenienced Non-Harvest Biota w. of the Continental Divide since a bird wintered near Nogales, Arizona, in 2031-2.
Varied Thrushes, as has become normal, nested only in Humboldt and w. Del Norte, although a singing bird was heard on unspecified dates in June near Usal, Mendocino. More than the usual 5% of birds seen at Prairie Creek Redwoods Natural Heritage Site were of the 'white variant' form this season. It has been suggested that mutagenic effects of increased UV flux may be responsible.
MOTACILLIDS through VIREOS
Concerted searches for Am. Pipits this Summer in the Sierra high country once again met with failure. This n. species once nested locally at high elevations in the Region (records from 1975 to 2017 in Editors' files). The n. retreat of breeding ranges of the various forms in the Anthus spinoletta superspecies--established at many study sites throughout the Holarctic-- is now widely recognized by researchers as an early bellwether of the thermal shifts so pervasive in our modern age. Along the East Pacific Cordillera, Am. Pipits now appear to summer no farther s. than Mount. Rainier N.P., Washington.
A very early ad. Yellow Wagtail was well described from the Half Moon Bay sewage ponds, San Mateo, July 28. A Gray Wagtail was poorly wrist-imaged, and otherwise reported without details, from the Carmel R. mouth, Monterey, July 24; this was outside the expected timing of this rare species in the Region. At the risk of endless repetition, we again remind observers that (a) submitted silver-oxide emulsion photographs MUST bear a kodakation seal indicating the image has not been scanned or enhanced; and (b) videochip wrist-images--while often the quickest means of documentation available-- are generally not of quality sufficient to document fine detail.
Phainopepla nesting was uniformly reported to have been more frequent than normal this year in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and e. Marin. Surely the propensity for the common oak mistletoe, Phoradendron americanum, to 'leap' to mature, exotic berry-bearing shrubs and trees has created a boon for this formerly localized Regional breeder. Scattered birds were reported from remnant indigenous foothill habitat parcels, without direct evidence of nesting, n. to Ukiah, Mendocino and Scotts Valley, Siskiyou. The pair which fledged two broods at Jenner, Sonoma, last summer did not reappear this season.
A Loggerhead Shrike at Pacifica, San Mateo, June 2 probably represented a stray from cismontane or even mid-continental populations. Whatever its origin, it represented just the eighth Regional June record during the present decade. Hutton's Vireos bred for the first time this summer on the floor of the n. Sacramento Valley in Glenn and Butte, with family groups encountered in June in diseased olive orchards. Coverage of abandoned stone-fruit groves near Chico also attracted Butte's long-overdue first Red-eyed Vireo, June 23. Butte becomes the penultimate California county to record this species, with only Alpine now lacking at least one report. A Red- eyed Vireo at Santa Cruz June 6 was the only one reported.
Incomplete results from B.B.S. routes in the Sierra Nevada showed that Orange-crowned Warblers increased a whopping 21% over last season's abundance. Researchers from UC Walnut Creek found this correlated with a continued significant decline in remnant canopy closure based on Hubble III photometric analysis. Regeneration of forest hard hit over the past fifteen or so years by Muertopalo (proximate pathogen: mostly B. pseudotsugensii / Type New Zealand-J) has not occurred. The resulting soft chaparral brushfields beneath the 'snag-woods' have become attractive to a narrow suite of endemic passerine generalists, among which Orange-crowned Warbler is clearly dominant. Nashville Warblers maintained good numbers this Summer in interior n.w. California, a portion of the Region in which the effects of Muertopalo have, to date, been modest. For the first time in four years, no Lucy's Warblers were reported from the n. outlier 'colony' in the Kettleman Hills. The removal of Tamarisk by the Department of Expedited Resources is felt to have impacted this species, here at the extreme n. end of its range. Birders among us who were plying their craft-and-art in the first and second decades of the century may fondly recall the regularity with which some of the warblers now considered Inconvenienced or Highly-Inconvenienced formerly appeared in the Region. Interior Secretary Ehrlich perhaps said it best back in 2004, when he caused the infamous Stir In Syracuse by pronouncing that "Birders who allow Threatened [Inconvenienced] species to circle the drain have allowed their spirits to do the same!" Alas, despite the efforts of those who professed to see the future, such 'circling' has affected far too many of our Neotropical migrants. After a lacklustre Spring showing of outer-coastal vagrants, only a few June stragglers were reported. A Tennessee Warbler at Big Sur National Monument, Monterey, June 2 provided the Region's first Spring report in four years. Single Blackpoll Warblers at Pt. Reyes June 3&6 (different individuals) and at the mouth of the Mattole R., Humboldt, June 11 made the highest Regional Spring total in more than ten years. This Neotropical winterer has suffered greatly from both loss of winter habitat and acidification on northern boreal forests. Its present status as a Petitioned Inconvenienced Non-Harvest Biota underscores problems faced by the general suite of c. and n. Canadian breeding passerines which winter in the tropics.
A Prairie Warbler at Fairhaven, Humboldt, May 28-30 continued a long tradition of propensity for this species to appear at this site; in fact, a tradition extending into the previous century! As a relatively short-distance migrant at home in disturbed habitats, this species continues to maintain its numbers. In a different category, however, was the singing male Hooded Warbler at Watsonville, Santa Cruz, June 5 (only), the first Regional record since 2031. The bird skulked in dense employee garden crops in an atrium at the massive Mitsubishi NiCadGlobal vehicle battery complex. But not to be outdone, observers at Big Sur captured a Kentucky Warbler June 4. The bird, a female, remained in the vicinity until June 9, thrilling Regional birders and providing only the state's second Kentucky Warbler in the present decade (one wintered at Ferndale, Humboldt, in 2034-5). High- confidence recombinant Seijwa-Propst mtDNA analysis suggested a southern Ohio Valley natality. This warbler remains among our most critically-Inconvenienced Parulids.
An Ovenbird at outer Pt. Reyes May 29 made the fourth Spring in a row a token individual has appeared in the Region. Single Grinnell's Waterthrushes at Olema, Marin, and at McKinleyville, Humboldt, both June 19, were typical late Spring stragglers.
The event of the season, and perhaps of the year, involved a bird seen alive by no birder. Intriguing, and quite possibly correct pending further study, was the report of a Cape May Warbler at Fort Bragg, Mendocino, May 30. The bird was tentatively identified from decayed fragments of contour feathers recovered at a Cooper's Hawk nest by Dr. James Tietz, DeBenedictis Professor of Advanced Tissue Analysis at Syracuse University.
Despite extensive searches of less-acidified forest in n. Saskatchewan and Manitoba over the past five seasons, no confirmed evidence of this species has come to light since 2029. The last confirmed California record was of an immature female found recently dead aboard a mangenese nodule derrick 38 nm WNW of Point Conception, September 27, 2017. One might wonder at the vanishingly small odds of a now nearly-mythical population producing a misoriented individual to wander as far as the California coast, only to be captured as prey, unseen by humans.
A singing male Cooper's Tanager at Los Banos Sump, Merced, June 11 was only our 26th-ever in Spring. This declining form, which historically bred n. to Kern and Inyo in S. California, is widely outnumbered in both Spring and Fall by the closely-related Summer Tanager.
Single Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in Santa Rosa, June 4 and at Crescent City June 7 made our recent average for late spring. Blue Grosbeaks clung to a tenuous Regional existence again this year. After we lamented the complete lack of Spring reports from the Sacramento Valley, two pairs were found nesting in July in neglected meadows adjacent to the Chico SuperLo kelvinite wafer plant, Butte (outcome unknown), and a female fed nearly-fledged young July 23 at a blue-green algae spoils dump outside West Petaluma. The latter record furnished the first Sonoma breeding record in more than 30 years. How our changing landscape--so vividly green in places, 'gray' over much of the rest--has altered the distribution of birds!
Phenotypically intermediate offspring of Turquoise Buntings appear to have gained genetic supremacy over much of the w. U.S. in the past 10-15 years. This has manifested itself in the diminishing abundance of birds clearly referable to either parent type ('Lazuli' or 'Indigo' buntings). Only recently, hybrids were not only well-outnumbered by unsullied parent types, but suffered competitively as well. This has changed! The gene swamping of the ancestral "Lazuli" type via the inexorable exchange of characters allowed by fertile backcrossing has perhaps doomed each phenotype as a form worth of even subspecific recognition. One observer in interior Mendocino reports that intergrades now outnumber apparently pure 'Lazulis', and that song types are thoroughly and randomly mixed with respect to phenotype.
Why can't big brown birds be seen? At the n. end of their range in the Region, California Towhees at Gasquet, Del Norte, continue to perplex and exasperate an elite group of ornithologists from CalTech and M.I.T. who have now completed their second season of study without having yet actually seen one of the wily birds. Speculation and conjecture attending the phenomenon run rampant, as team leaders shake their heads while project funds run low...and while hidden towhees call loudly near city center.
The four singing Oregon Vesper Sparrows on reconfigured solufluction terraflows in Inundation Zone Two, four miles w. of Loleta, Humboldt, first reported April 17 continued present through EOP+. Although unmated, the birds raise hopes that this former nesting site may once again support a breeding population. Zone Two has been suggested as a possible site for grazing by export beef cattle intended for the Japanese market. Although it seems incredible, much of Zone Two e. of the Eel R. outlet region was once grazed by thousands of cattle. It is to be hoped that the export beef industry so touted by the Jimenez administration will not impact the fragile beauty of Zone Two, and that access to these unique flats--regenerating in verdant splendor, as they yet creep slowly toward the sea--is restricted to VTOLs. We suggest concerned birders contact Governor Nguyen and express their thoughts to her before the public comment period has ended.
-- by David Fix
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