Year of the Bird

Celebrating the Year of the Bird
By Mary Parsell

2018 is the Year of the Bird. The National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are joining together in a yearlong celebration of birds in commemoration of the 100year anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) . This Act regulates the taking, possession, transportation, sale, purchase, barter, exportation and importation of migratory birds, their parts, nests and eggs. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for enforcing the MBTA. The 1026 bird species native to the US and its territories are pro-tected.

The MBTA was one of Audubons first major victories. See for complete information.

February Walk at Rancho Los Cerritos Recap

By Carolyn Vance
Another great walk at the Rancho! We started the day with a pair of Ravens flying over the parking lot, calling to each other.  Our next bird was a nice Hermit thrush, followed by a small flock of Cedar waxwings flying over.  A pair of California Scrub jays flashed their blue wings at us as did the Western bluebirds.  A Northern mockingbird stood silent watch over us, unusual for this bird.  Luckily, the Black phoebes and Allen’s hummingbirds weren’t silent as they zipped back and forth across the Rancho.

Our other fly-over birds included three Great Blue herons and 43 California gulls. A Red-shouldered hawk, heard several times, finally landed in the large oak tree for us to see, then took off again, calling.  The best part of the day, for me, was the small group (21) of Bushtits in a low, open bush, feeding.  It looked as though the bush was alive, swarming with birds in constant motion, going branch to branch.   Then leaving it, one-by-one, as Bushtits do, going to their next feeding spot.  The last bird of the day was the California towhee that we had been hearing, but couldn’t find, until he popped up on an open branch of the Toyon tree at the top of the drive.

The most asked question of the day was: Why is that rust-and-green colored hummingbird an Allen’s and not a Rufous?  Simple – Rufous hummers are only seen in this area in migration – spring and fall, so in winter-time you’re seeing Allen’s.  Also, Allen’s have green on their back and Rufous’ don’t.  Okay, okay – about 5% of Rufous’ show a little green on their back, but once again, our walk was in the middle of winter, when Rufous’ are in their wintering grounds.  Check their range map in your favorite field guide for where they are now.

Many, many thanks to Kim Moore, our bug expert; Merryl Edelstein, Rancho Garden Docent; Jerry Millett, member of El Dorado Audubon’s monthly survey here and Rancho Horticulturist Marie Barnidge-McIntyre for all their help! At the end of the walk, we had seen 19 species of bird.  Our next walk will be on Thursday, April 12th, from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.  Come join us!

(Photo credits: Allen’s Hummingbird & California Towhee by Kim Moore.  Bushtit, Hermit Thrush & Northern Mockingbird by Jerry Millett)

CBC 2017, Results are in!

By Cindy Dunbar

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC). A special thanks to Carolyn Vance for her ongoing support and guidance. What a wonderful year we had as you can see by the count below.  See you next year.

Date: December 16, 2017
Observers: 38
Total Miles: 95
Total Hours: 99
Species: 186
Total Count: 22,761
In brief, the areas we covered: cities of Long Beach, Buena Park, Cypress, Seal Beach and Los Alamitos military bases.


Red-throated Loon – 1 Hooded Merganser – 1
 Common Loon – 5 Red-breasted Merganser – 17
Pied-billed Grebe – 28 Ruddy Duck – 135
Horned Grebe – 2 Turkey Vulture – 27
Eared Grebe – 20 Osprey – 14
Western Grebe – 182 White-tailed Kite – 4
Clark’s Grebe – 1 Northern Harrier – 5
White Pelican – 70 Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3
Brown Pelican – 28 Cooper’s Hawk – 13
Double-crested Cormorant – 147 Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
Brant’s Cormorant – 6 Red-tailed Hawk – 70
Great Blue Heron – 41 Ferruginous Hawk – 5
Great Egret – 33 American Kestrel – 36
Snowy Egret – 98 Merlin – 5
Green Heron – 4 Peregrine Falcon – 3
Black-crowned Night Heron – 42 California Quail – 2
Ross’s Goose – 4 Ridgway’s Light-footed Rail – 2
Snow Goose – 11 American Coot – 1,373
Cackling Goose – 6 Black-bellied Plover – 383
Canada Goose – 3,638 Pacific Golden-Plover – 1
Brant – 2 Semi-palmated Plover – 237
Green-winged Teal – 46 Killdeer – 254
Mallard – 681 Black Oystercatcher – 2
Northern Pintail – 72 Black-necked Stilt – 81
Blue-winged Teal – 49 Avocet – 29
Cinnamon Teal – 25 Greater Yellowlegs – 13
Northern Shoveler – 62 Willet – 291
Gadwall – 10 Spotted Sandpiper – 6
American Wigeon – 683 Whimbrel – 6
Canvasback – 4 Long-billed Curlew – 76
Ring-necked Duck – 5 Marbled Godwit – 72
Lesser Scaup – 54 Ruddy Turnstone – 8
Surf Scoter – 84 Red Knot – 1
Bufflehead – 53 Western Sandpiper – 2,714
Least Sandpiper – 520 Marsh Wren – 3
Western/Least (Peeps) – 600 Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 121
Dunlin – 12 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 38
Short-billed Dowitcher – 24 Western Bluebird – 51
Long-billed Dowitcher – 10 Hermit Thrush – 31
Dowitcher sp. – 90 American Robin – 24
Wilson’s Snipe – 2 Northern Mockingbird – 81
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1 American Pipit – 311
Heerman’s Gull – 22 Cedar Waxwing – 161
Ring-billed Gull – 473 Loggerhead Shrike – 2
California Gull – 209 European Starling – 661
Herring Gull – 5 Hutton’s Vireo – 20
Western Gull – 233 Orange-crowned Warbler – 38
Glaucous-winged Gull – 2 Yellow Warbler – 75
Gull sp. – 579 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle’s) – 3
Caspian Tern – 4 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) – 574
Royal Tern – 168 Black-throated Gray Warbler – 1
Foster’s Tern – 2 Townsend’s Warbler – 37
Rock Pigeon – 811 Common Yellowthroat – 51
Mourning Dove – 433 Wilson’s Warbler – 1
Eurasian Collared-Dove – 54 Spotted Towhee – 2
Mitred Parakeet – 128 California Towhee – 42
White-throated Swift – 36 Chipping Sparrow – 35
Anna’s Hummingbird – 94 Savannah Sparrow – 230
Allen’s Hummingbird – 159 Belding’s Savannah Sparrow – 59
Hummingbird sp. – 40 Fox Sparrow – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 13 Song Sparrow – 17
Nuttall’s Woodpecker – 22 Lincoln Sparrow – 24
Downy Woodpecker – 7 White-crowned Sparrow – 546
Northern Flicker – 36 Dark-eyed Junco – 14
Black Phoebe – 186 Red-winged Blackbird – 46
Say’s Phoebe – 62 Western Meadowlark – 196
Cassin’s Kingbird – 58 Brewer’s Blackbird – 95
Horned Lark – 122 Great-tailed Grackle – 63
CA Scrub Jay – 30 Brown-headed Cowbird – 133
American Crow – 343 House Finch – 323
Common Raven – 30 Lesser Goldfinch – 135
Bushtit – 461 American Goldfinch – 20
Bewick’s Wren – 5 House Sparrow – 76
House Wren – 14 Scaly-breasted Munia – 62
Domestic Muscovy – 23 Barn Swallow – 2
Swan Goose – 3 Lark Sparrow – 4
Barn Owl – 1 Phainopepla – 1
White-faced Ibis – 8 Cinnamon Blue-winged Teal Hybrid – 1
Vermillian Flycatcher – 7 Yellow-chevroned Parakeet – 3
Swallow sp. – 2 Greater White-fronted Goose – 12
Domestic Goose – 1 Reddish Egret – 2
Wrentit – 3 Burrowing Owl – 3
California Gnatchatcher – 8 Prairie Falcon – 1
Domestic Mallard – 12 Vesper Sparrow – 1
Pacific Slope Flycatcher – 2 Large-billed Savannah Sparrow – 2
Tropical Kingbird – 1 Green-tailed Towhee – 1
Virginia Rail – 2 Red Bishop – 1
Sora – 1 Tricolored Heron – 1
Tree Swallow – 2 White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel’s) – 36
Northern Rough-winged Swallow – 6 Graylag Goose (Domestic) – 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 3 Duck sp. Hybrid – 10
Cassin’s Vireo – 1 Black and White Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – 1


Detailed list of areas covered in the count:

Alamitos Bay
Marine Stadium
Ralph Dills Park
Hollydale Park
La Mirada Regional & Creek Parks
Ralph B. Clark Park
El Dorado Park
San Gabriel River and Park
Seal Beach NWR
Los Cerritos Wetlands
Marketplace Marsh
Zedler Marsh
Hellman Lowlands
Rancho Los Cerritos
DeForest Park
Dominguez Gap
Scherer Park
Oak Knoll Park
Willow Park
Forest Lawn
Wardlow Park
Colorado Lagoon
Mother’s Beach
Joint Forces Training Base and Navy Golf Course
Willow Springs Park

(Post photo credit ©Cindy Crawford, location Hellman Lowlands)

Great Backyard Bird Count!

By Donna Bray

Co-sponsored by the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is scheduled for February 16th through the 19th. Yes, that is the long President’s Day holiday weekend. But you can participate, staying home in your own backyard, traveling, or just birding wherever you want to go!

Over the years, when I worked on the Friday, I took folks I worked with out to bird in the surrounding neighborhood or to a local park. In fact, we used binoculars that our Chapter members had donated (thanks again!). Other Chapter volunteers have introduced school children and a local Ecology Club group to birding via the GBBC, too. The lists were all entered into the national count at or via eBird ( ). It feels good to be a part of the citizen science effort helping researchers build their data.

This year I’d like to emphasize the value of birding locally, going to a location that is under-birded. At the time of this writing I have accepted the eBird challenge to submit a checklist a day in January. And, I have decided that I’ll bird some of those under-birded parks in my own neighborhood. No, they probably don’t have rarities, though they might, but no one is checking! And in so doing, I am learning increasingly more about eBird and realized that an eBird hotspot doesn’t mean that there are fancy rarities there. It’s a place accessible to anyone, and that helped me decide to ask to have little old, freeway-adjacent Norwalk Park included on the Hotspot list. It caused me to take a pair of compact binoculars with me to Olvera Street, and wow, actually see birds other than pigeons at La Placita! When I submitted the list, I requested it be listed as a Hotspot too. You can see where I am going with this. Any birding you do is valuable. So really make the effort to get out once or all four days of the GBBC and submit your lists. For more information on how, go the website.

Photo below by Cindy Crawford, a Black-throated Gray Warbler recently spotted in her backyard, S/E Long Beach area.


118th Christmas Bird Count at Los Cerritos Wetlands

We’re still busy crunching the numbers for the final recap of our area CBC on Dec. 16th, 2017, but here is a little sneak peek for our Los Cerritos Wetlands IBA.  Broken down by wetlands sections, we noted 50 species at Synergy Oil Field/LCW Marsh (aka “Steamshovel Slough”), 17 species at Zedler Marsh, 16 species at Hellman Property and 6 species at the adjoining Gum Grove Park for a total of 89 different bird species seen at the Los Cerritos Wetlands that day.

Our Christmas Bird Count encompassed a much larger area of course! Watch for our entire EDA territory CBC Recap coming soon, should be published in our March newsletter.

Post photo credit: ©Cindy Crawford

Links to our Dec. 16th Los Cerritos Wetlands bird lists on eBird:

LCW Marsh “Steamshovel Slough”:
Zedler Marsh:
Hellman Property:
Gum Grove Park:

EDA’s Comments on Los Cerritos Wetlands Project

Post photo credit: ©Cindy Crawford

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Oil Consolidation and Restoration Project EIR went to Long Beach City Council on Jan. 16th, 2018 and was approved.  Important to note we do not support this project unconditionally.  Our chapter submitted public comments on the EIR as follows: 

Via e-mail

Mr. Craig Chalfant
Planning Bureau, Development Services Department
City of Long Beach
333 W. Ocean Blvd., 5th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802
Re: Los Cerritos Wetlands Restoration and Oil Consolidation Project

Dear Mr. Chalfant,
On behalf of the El Dorado Audubon Society, the undersigned submits this letter in comment to the above project.

Our Mission and long-time involvement with Los Cerritos Wetlands:

“The mission of the El Dorado Audubon Society is the conservation of native birds and their habitats. The society provides leadership in conservation and educates its members and the community, so that they may appreciate birds and participate in the society’s conservation efforts.”

In keeping with our mission, El Dorado Audubon has been an active member of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority’s Stewardship Program since 2009 and has led educational bird walks for the public at the Los Cerritos Wetlands since 1979.  In addition, for years we have conducted regular bird counts and surveys at the wetlands.

Our current work at the wetlands also includes participation in the restoration planning public process. We have provided comments and suggestions throughout the conceptual planning process and any proposed restoration.  In general, per our mission, we are in support of good restoration efforts not only to conserve habitat for native birds and wildlife but also to restore habitat whenever possible.   We have prepared a list of concerns (set forth below), for which we regularly have meetings directly with the project proponents to discuss.  It is important to note many of our concerns have been addressed, and some are topics of ongoing communications.

El Dorado Audubon’s Wetlands Restoration/Oil Relocation Project On-going Concerns:

1.   Recreation

The goal of the Los Cerritos Restoration project is to create the best possible Southern California Wetland, i.e., a nature preserve NOT a recreational park.  As a nature preserve, its primary function is to protect rare biological resources and natural communities.  For this reason, only passive recreational activities (hiking, photography, bird watching and nature study) are appropriate.  Trails should be open to foot traffic only, of limited, non-intrusive width, and visitors must stay on them at all times.  Kayaks should not be permitted.

  • EIR describes 1 acre of parkland and picnic benches (originally 4 acres in DEIR but reduced in final EIR).  A better designation would be “outdoor educational center” as the actual intended usage was explained to EDA as more of an educational gathering spot by the parking lot, not a parkland or picnic area.  The FEIR describes about ½ dozen picnic benches, with gravel and native plant cover – is an acre really needed?  More details of how the acre would be used are needed in the EIR documents.
  • Public access trails, sidewalks, bike lanes along Studebaker Road:  The trail is described as 10’ wide decomposed granite.  More details of the sidewalk and bike path, and how access from the sidewalk and bike path to the wetlands will be controlled, should be defined in the EIR.  The 10’ wide trail should be reduced to 3’ to 5’ wide, as you would find on the Bolsa Chica Mesa Trail.  Like the Bolsa Chica Mesa public access trail area, the Studebaker “bluff” is also a relatively narrow strip of land.
  • Monitoring/limiting “recreational use” such as trail hours of operation, how the trails will be controlled and types of recreation is allowed, with the goal of minimizing human presence impacts to the habitat, birds and wildlife.

2. No project alternative

EDA believes that the current oil operations and infrastructure pose a greater risk to the remnant and functional wetlands, “Steamshovel Slough”, than the potential risks from the proposed reconfigured oil operations.   This plus the absence of the added, restored wetland acreage means that the “No Project” alternative is not a prudent approach.

3. Interpretive center

The proposed interpretive center offers a unique opportunity to educate the public about the importance of marshlands and wetlands, through illustrative displays of marsh habitats and the respective plant, animal, and bird life found in each zone and the larger web of life dependent on these essential habitats.  It offers further opportunity to illustrate the interaction of man with this particular marsh from Native Americans to the present, including how the greater marsh of which Los Cerritos is a remnant became degraded and, in a sense preserved ultimately by the oil industry maintaining open spaces and remnant marsh and wetland allowing plants and wildlife to survive.

4. Restoration

Wetland restoration is an evolving science.  Therefore, it is vitally important that the project undergo review and most importantly incorporation of any input from the various permitting agencies to ensure the best restoration possible.  We expect that the project proponent and permitting agencies will implement at a minimum, the following items:

  • Protect the existing marsh from sedimentation resulting from restoration activities.
  • Use native plant & marsh plant species only from our specific area, appropriate for the habitat types on the project area.
  • Ensure any upland habitat impacts are temporary and result in increased quality habitat for use by birds and wildlife.  All contamination cleanup uses best available methods.

5.  Synergy Office (on “Pumpkin Patch”)

We would expect that the construction of the office building incorporate:

  • Bird friendly building techniques (bird safe glass measures, shielded lighting, lights out at night to prevent bird strikes).
  • Native tree and plant landscaping.
  • Preservation and restoration of any wetlands resources on the property.

6. Marine life studies in the marsh

Baseline studies of fish and other aquatic creatures should be done pre-restoration to measure against post-restoration conditions.

7. Special Status of Marsh and Uplands

All of the area acquired by the Los Cerritos Wetland Authority including marine, tidal salt marsh, and upland components should be designated a “biological reserve” consistent with Section 4.4.8 of SEASP zoning.

In conclusion, we believe with careful planning and some modifications, the restoration of Los Cerritos Wetlands would be of great benefit to the birds, wildlife and the public.


El Dorado Audubon
Mary Parsell, President