Oct 13th Nature Center Native Plant Sale & Plants for Birds!

Fall is here and now is the best time to plant native plants for birds!  Turning your yard into your own private bird watching habit is easy.  Just add food, shelter and water.  Native plants are an excellent choice for feeding birds the “natural way”, plus they are drought tolerant.  No need for pesticides, California native plants are bug resistant and besides, the birds will be more than happy to take care of that problem for you! 

A great local resource for Native Plants for birds — The Nature Center is holding their annual Native Plant Sale, October 13th, Friends Members Preview Sale is 9am to 9:30am, Public Sale is 9:30am to 2pm—arrive early for the best selection!  Address is 7550 E Spring St., Long Beach CA 90815.

Native plants I’ve found grow well in my yard here in Long Beach include Yarrow, California Lilac, White Sage, Cleveland Sage, California Buckwheat, Gooseberry bushes, Bladderpod and Toyon.  Berry loving birds are attracted to the Toyon and Gooseberry, Hummingbirds are attracted to the Bladderpod and sage blooms, and buckwheat is a great pollinator plant.  For information on more native plant species that do well in our area and what birds favor each, check out Audubon’s Native Plant Database, linked on our Conservation page at https://eldoradoaudubon.org/conservation/

When planting for a bird habitat consider different levels of vegetation.  In my yard I have a mix of both native and non-native plants and trees:  a giant maple tree, a slightly smaller tangerine tree along with a variety of bushes and plants creating an “understory”.  A very tall and thick non-native honeysuckle bush (great hiding place from the Cooper’s hawks) and native Toyon bush are at the next level down.  Just a bit lower in height I have native Coyote Bush, Gooseberry and California Lilacs.  Next level down are the native sages, Bladderpods and a few other native and non-native small plants. 

As I watch the Hooded Oriole, House Wren, Goldfinches, Warblers, Scrub Jays, Mockingbirds, California Towhees, Allen’s Hummingbirds, occasional Pacific-slope Flycatcher and a variety of other feathered visitors to my backyard, I can’t help but notice their feeding and perching habits in the different height bushes and trees. 

The Hooded Oriole seems to favor the high side of mid-size bushes and lower spots of the large trees, apparently catching insects and feeding on flowering bushes, drinking from the pond, and like many other bird species I see, perching on the dead snag next to the pond at times, which changed my plans for removing it. 

I often see Goldfinches flying through the pond fountain and perching on the dead snag next to the pond, sometimes taking shelter in middle to lower sections of thick bushes and of course feeding on the seeds of low lying native plants—native thistles are a favorite. 

The Mockingbird most often perches high up in tree tops singing, sometimes taking to the ground to catch insects.  The Toyon rarely has the beautiful red berries as these seem to be quite tasty to the resident mocks, along with the native Gooseberries. 

California Scrub Jay


Numerous California Scrub Jays pass through daily, moving between high tree tops, medium under story bushes, finally perching on lower limbs of bushes “in wait”, finally sweeping down on the ground to catch unsuspecting insects.  The Scrub Jays also like the dried seed pods on the Bladderpod bush, picking them up and shaking each one as they would a peanut, until they find just the right one.

California Towhee


I occasionally see a pair of California Towhees hopping along the ground through sheltered areas under low bushes pecking and scratching through the dirt for a meal.  It won’t be long before large numbers of White-crowned Sparrows arrive to join them. 

Orange-crowned Warbler in a native Bladderpod plant




In fall I always see a variety of warblers busy at work catching insects mostly in low to medium bushes, sometimes perching on low branches of tall trees or in thick bushes, often joined by the House Wrens, numerous Bushtits and others. 

Side note, don’t forget about windows – reflections of your beautiful bird habitat can cause birds to collide with glass, but good news, there is a fix and it can be very simple, just follow the 4” inch rule– space decals, or strips of thin tape, string, etc. 4 inches apart.  I have vertical blinds which I never pull aside but only crack open creating this effect and no collision problems.  For more info on preventing window collisions see the “bird friendly communities” section at the bottom of our Conservation page at https://eldoradoaudubon.org/conservation/

Finally, you may want to take your backyard birding habitat plans a step further and consider participating in Cornell Lab’s Habitat Network http://content.yardmap.org/ or even get your yard certified as an official Wildlife Habitat https://www.nwf.org/certify

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

Join Our New Volunteer Pool!

This is a no pressure, lend a helping hand if and when you can opportunity.  Just provide us your name, interests and phone number and when the need arises we’ll give you a call and check if you are available to help. 

Why volunteer? There are lots of good reasons. Here are a few:

  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Give back to your community
  • Try something new
  • Share your skills

Whatever your interests or skills, EDA has a place for you.  All you have to do is like people and enjoy nature.  To make our programs successful, we need membership involvement in all of our activities. Donating even an hour or two of your time can help a lot. There are all sorts of fun ways to get involved.  EDA will give you the training you need. 

What would you like to do?  Maybe it’s to co-lead a field trip to the wetlands or the wonderful Nature Center, spend a few hours at an information table, help with office duties (make copies, computer help, etc.) or help set up chairs and tables at our 3rd Thursday general meetings, bring refreshments to the general meeting (chapter reimburses for this), help out the newsletter labeling crew (weekday), or help with our 50th anniversary celebration.  Or do you have a special business skill or other talent you would like to share?  We are open to your suggestions! 

We’re also looking to form a bird walk/field trip leader pool, for those who would like to get outside and help others discover the world of birds. 

If you would like to join a committee we have a variety to choose from:  conservation, tabling, fundraising, park cleanups, hospitality, membership and more. 

To join the volunteer pool, call us at 562-252-5825 or text 562-508-1369, or use our contact form (click here) or email us at support@eldoradoaudubon.org

Audubon Assembly Coming to Long Beach in November

Audubon Assembly in November, Long Beach, CA, by Mary Parsell

Chapter leaders, members, and friends are invited to join Audubon California Nov. 2nd through 4th in Long Beach for the 2018 Audubon Assembly. The theme of the 2018 Assembly is Look Up! The weekend will be an opportunity to look outside our local programs and learn from each other.

This will be an exciting opportunity for you to meet with chapter leaders, members, and partners from all over the state to enjoy birding coastal wetlands and other unique areas, explore conservation opportunities/practices, share stories with leaders from various regions, and establish peer-to-peer collaborations and partnerships. This program will offer multiple interactive presentations and breakout sessions that focus on topics from advocacy, fundraising and communications to SoCal conservation and coalition building.

The last Audubon Assembly, held in Yosemite in 2016, offered a chance to connect with other California conservationists. One chapter leader said, “Feeling part of something larger was my first ‘ah ha’ moment. I was also humbled by the education, experience, accomplishments and skills of other chapter leaders.” Please visit the Audubon CA website at http://ca.audubon.org/about/chapters/audubon-california-assembly to register, reserve lodging, and see the agenda. If you have any questions, please email the Chapter Network Team at chapternetworkca@audubon.org

Refuge Update & Public Lands Day

Many thanks to Carolyn Vance and all the volunteers for their hard work at the Refuge!  To sign up for Public Land’s Day at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, before 9/24/18, please call 562-598-1024 for a reservation and specify “Lands Day Planting”.  Also thanks to Carolyn for all her work on our Twitter Page, she posts a lot about the Refuge, check it out at https://twitter.com/edaudubon (post photo credit: Carolyn Vance)

Refuge Update, by Carolyn Vance:

A lot has happened at the Refuge over the summer! Our California Least Terns did quite well this year, with 117 nests, one with three eggs. We banded 117 chicks and picked up fewer than a dozen non-viable eggs. I will have the updated count next month. We were very lucky this year and only had one instance of predation of an adult Least Tern – just a pile of feathers on the ground, which is typical of a Peregrine take. Many thanks to new Eyes on the Colony Volunteers Betty-Jo Miller, Mort Dukehart, Bill Cullen, Maureen Sullivan for helping monitor our terns this year. Hope you will help again next year.

On July 20th, 11 Light-footed Ridgway’s Rails, captive bred at the San Diego Refuge, were released into our marsh. Our first rail release of six was in 2002. This group of birds was very feisty and one of them pecked Friends Volunteer Christa Shackleford and drew blood. Christa joined a very elite group who have bird-inflicted “war wounds”. There has now been 83 rails released in our Refuge in the last 16 years.

We’ve started a new survey at the Refuge which is really cool. We get to watch for and count the Green Sea Turtles who come into our Refuge to eat our eel grass, which is also favored by Brant. The turtles hang out in the riverbed by the warm water ejection points at the steam plant on Westminster/Studebaker. They wend their way round multiple culverts to get into (so far) three of our Ponds: 7th St., Perimeter, and Case. We watch their heads come out of the water for a quick breath. Some only nostrils; some a whole head; some watch us while swimming; some are just a quick splash while others show the top of their entire shell. This survey, at the request of the Navy/Bob Schallmann, is to help with the Navy’s Wharf Realignment Project Environmental Assessment.

Our regular Tour for September has been replaced with a National Public Lands Day event. We will plant California native plants in our Restoration area, adjacent to Case Pond, held on Sat., Sept. 29th, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. To participate, sign up before Tues., Sept. 24th. Bring water bottles, sun screen and closed-toe shoes. We will supply gloves, gardening tools and plants. Our regular Tours will resume in October.

During July, high school senior girls worked at the Refuge as part of a LEAF summer internship (Leaders in Environmental Action), paid for by the Nature Conservancy. These young ladies helped tremendously: LOTS of weeding, saw how a tide survey is done, helped with a Least Tern round up, the Green Sea Turtle survey and the Rail release. We hope they enjoyed their summer, and thank them for their help!

Birds of Note: If you follow the Chapter on Twitter, you’ve seen my tern chick photos, especially the newly hatched one with part of the shell still on top of its head, like a hat. Our NASA Island resident Killdeer raised two clutches of four eggs each inside the tern colony. I’ve seen two immature Peregrine Falcons, an immature White-tailed Kite, a Black-bellied Plover still in breeding plumage. By our October Tour, fall migration will have started in earnest, and we will have more birds on the Refuge.