Monday, March 31, 2014

April 1st, Northbay UPrising morningshow

Citizen Science campaign in San Francisco peninsula [link]

"Restoration under way at Presidio's Mountain Lake" [link]

"The Story of the Mommy Hummingbird at American Canyon"
by Wendy Schackwitz [925-963-4871] [napa-solano-birds (@)],
Educational Chair for the Napa-Solano Audubon Society
We have three different hummingbirds that we can easily see in
Napa-Solano County: Anna's, seen year round; Rufous, which passes through the San Pablo bay as it migrates between Mexico and the Pacific Northwest; and Allen's, who spends its summers with us, then winters in Mexico. Determining which hummingbird you are looking at can be very challenging. The male Anna’s hummingbird has a jewel tone green back and tail with an iridescent red head, male Rufous hummingbirds have a brick-red back and tail, and male Allen’s hummingbirds have an iridescent green back and a brick-red tail. You can get a free ID guide on our website ( by clicking the link at the very bottom of the page. 
Both the Anna’s and the Allen’s hummingbirds build nests here, whereas the Rufous builds their nests much further north. For hummingbirds, only the female builds the nest, incubates the eggs, and takes care of the chicks. The dad stakes out a patch and guards it, allowing his girlfriends access and jealously chases away any other males that are in his patch. What he is guarding are the flowers in his patch. 80% of a hummingbirds diet is flower nectar, the other 20% are small bugs. A hummingbird will eat twice its weight in nectar every day. This would be like a human eating 1,000 hamburgers every day! That’s a lot of flowers!
The female hummingbird builds her nest out of plant down (like cattail fluff or the cotton from cottonwood trees) and feathers. She then uses spider webs to glue it all together, and decorates the outside of it with lichens and moss, making it almost impossible to see. She lays 2 tiny eggs about the size of a jelly bean. It takes about 2 weeks for the eggs to hatch and about 3 additional weeks before the babies are old enough to leave the nest.
When on my last Beginning Birding Walk (March 8th), one of the participants located a nest in a Eucalyptus tree near the walking path. The mother was seen wriggling down into her nest and adding a few finishing touches to her nest. On March 13th, I was out with Donaldson Elementary with three of the 5th grade classes. About 100 children were out visiting the wetlands and taking a tour of the waste treatment plant. I was able to relocate the nest and get a good view of it in my spotting scope and all the kids were able to watch the mommy hummingbird through a spotting scope we provided. It was great fun to see the awe on their faces and hear the "oohs!" of excitement once they were able to see the nest really close. On March 22nd, one of our members went and visited the nest and viola! There was a chick! She got a great photo of the mommy hummingbird feeding the chick. (see the attached photo of the mommy hummingbird feeding the baby). With luck this little one will successfully be out of the nest in a few weeks and then the mommy hummingbird will start all over again.
Do you enjoy watching hummingbirds and want to help scientists understand what they are feeding on? Help us out by submitting your hummingbird sightings to the citizen science project hummingbirds at home.  You can participate at a level that fits your schedule – from one sighting to watching hummingbirds over several weekends throughout the program. []

Beginning Bird Walk and Bird Song Workshop, Saturday April 05, 9 AM.
Learn how to identify bird songs, followed by a bird walk in American Canyon Wetlands.
Why do birds sing? How can you tell birds apart by their songs? Join Wendy Schackwitz to learn how to ID five different birds from their song alone. You will also learn about apps for your smartphone that can help you learn more songs and identify birds in your yard and in the field. Workshop starts at 9am near the American Canyon Wetlands parking lot at Wetlands Edge Road and Eucalyptus Dr., followed by a walk around 10:00 that will end around noon. The walks are on flat ground, and appropriate for all ages (children must be accompanied by an adult).

"SolTrans discounts passes for area youth; Buses promoted as spring break-friendly"
2014-03-27 by Donna Beth Weilenman from "Benicia Herald" []:
Solano County Transit is selling discounted local youth day passes through April 6, Jessica Deakyne, program analyst, said.
“The specially priced passes are available to anyone between 6 and 18 years old, and will be discounted from $3 to $2,” she said.
The passes can be used on all SolTrans local and fixed routes, she said. They can be bought onboard the buses only.
The discounted tickets are being sold at the Vallejo Transit Ticket Center Office and at other vendors.
SolTrans provides bus service that connects to multiple destinations throughout Vallejo and Benicia, particularly places where youth are likely to go during spring break, Deakyne said.
“For example, youth can take Route 5 to Discovery Kingdom or Route 7 to the Century Movie Theatre,” she said.
SolTrans Executive Director Mona Babauta said the promotion is designed to demonstrate the ease and convenience of riding SolTrans to travel to and around Vallejo and Benicia.
Babauta said she hopes “this promotion will result in more of our young citizens discovering the bus as an easy way to get around during spring break.”
Those interested may visit the “News” section of the SolTrans website,, or call its customer service number, 707-648-4666.

"Rio Vista High School goes to the birds"
2014-03-31 by Susan Hiland from "Fairfield Republic" []:
RIO VISTA — Friday was a day for the birds at Rio Vista High School. At least for a core group of students.
Stars of a new conservation program spread their wings before students in the school’s agriculture, Earth science, biology and animal science classes during a presentation on protecting the environment – particularly in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region.
Hawks, Honkers and Hoots is a new nonprofit that formed last year as a teaching organization dedicated to exploring our local environment and winged friends, according to the organization. The nonprofit will customize presentations for schools or organizations to help educate the public on preservation and conservation of natural habitats.
The nonprofit brought four types of birds in for students to view: a red-tailed hawk, Murphy; a Western screech owl, Clicky; a burrowing owl, Digger; and a peregrine falcon, Bolt. All the birds are raptors, so they are predatory creatures that might be at the top of the bird food chain, but are not immune to sickness and death from human trash.
“We focus today on the reason for keeping the Delta clean,” Kelli Moulden, co-founder said. ”The birds can be injured easily by actions we don’t think about.”
All the birds have some kind of problem that prohibits them from being released back into the wild.
The red-tailed hawk is a survivor of West Nile virus, which left her with nerve damage in her claws, making it difficult for her to grasp prey. The Burrowing Owl is blind in one eye, which makes him easy prey. Bolt was found in a garden, unable to fly. After being examined by a veterinarian, it was determined his wing had to be cut nearly in half.
The birds are given a new life as diplomats for wildlife. They go around to schools, serving as examples of the types of creatures who can and are harmed by human trash.
In addition to presentations, the organization also does hands-on cleanup of the Delta and other areas that need it. It is looking for volunteers to help clean the Delta waterway from 9 a.m. to noon April 12 at Lower Morrison Creek and Sherman Island. Also, if landowners in the Delta area have illegally dumped tires that could be recycled, they will be accepting them at the Sherman Island cleanup area.
For more information on Hawks, Honkers, and Hoots, go to

Pacific Vibes! Tuesdays 9pm to 2am, and Fridays 6 to 9am
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