Recap, Starr Ranch Sanctuary Field Trip


by Elaine Layne

Feb. 17th, 2018, EDA members were welcomed by Director of Research and Education, Sandy De Simone. The Ranch lies in unincorporated South Orange County, bordered by the Cleveland National Forest. Starr Ranch is used for various types of ecological research. Participants witnessed a special bird banding demonstration given by Ornithologist Kim Geissler. The Hutton Vireo and Lesser Goldfinch were caught, weighed, assessed for fat, age, disease and released. A guided bird walk followed. Thank you Starr Ranch staff for a beautiful day with the birds!

Pictured below, a few of the birds seen on the trip:  Hutton’s Vireo, Lesser Goldfinch, Acorn Woodpecker and a Red-tailed Hawk.  Header photo, Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom.  Photos by Jerry Millett.



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.

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.


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

Western Bluebird Nest Box Monitoring

Western Bluebird Eggs

Western Bluebird Eggs

As our Western Bluebird nest box monitoring season comes to a close, we’d like to shout out a big thank you to all the monitoring volunteers! Next year we’ll have plenty of extra nest boxes and we are looking for help. If you would like to become a Bluebird Nest Box Monitor, please send an email to attention Jerry Millett, or use the contact form on our website. Program orientation happens around Feb 2018, nest boxes are hung in the trees in local parks around Feb/Mar 2018. El Dorado Audubon’s nest box monitoring program data is submitted to the California Bluebird Recovery Program. To learn more about this bird conservation effort see and

Banded Canada Goose at El Dorado Duck Pond

El Dorado Duck Pond, Photo Cindy Crawford

El Dorado Park Duck Pond, Photo by Cindy Crawford


Saturday, 2/11/17, member Cindy Crawford was at El Dorado Park Duck Pond checking out the Winged Wonders Tour when she came across a banded Canada Goose. Cindy took photos and called the phone number on the band to report the sighting. All we know at this point is the bird was banded somewhere in Los Angeles on 8/14/15. The banding lab will research further and let us know. We’ll post an update when available.  Cindy received a Certificate of Appreciation in the mail; good job Cindy!

On another note, check out the Winged Wonders educational self-guided tour and all the waterfowl hanging around the duck pond lately, which includes American Wigeon, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler and more. There are 24 banners around the pond and each with a number. Call the number on the banner which is 562/257-3608 and then press 1# to hear the intro and then continue on by pressing any number 2 through 24 followed by the # sign.


Synergy Tour

November 4, 2016; This early Friday morning, El Dorado Audubon’s president Janice Dahl (olive green shirt), conservation chair Mary Parsell (turquoise shirt) and committee member Cindy Crawford (blue print shirt) along with the chapter’s attorney Doug Carstens (back left), and our biologist Robb Hamilton (back right) tour the Synergy property and Steam Shovel Slough courtesy of the company’s partner and project operator John McKeown (back middle).  The group is standing next to the “Discovery Well” dated August 4, 1926.  In addition to touring the property and birding along the way, we met to talk over aspects of their restoration project and mitigation bank that are of environmental concerns to Audubon and to achieve a win-win outcome for everyone.

Photos provided by Cindy Crawford and Heather Altman.

Now is the time to do this  — SEASP* plan is expected to go to the City of Long Beach Planning Commission in November and to City Council in December.

*City of Long Beach Southeast Area Specific Plan

Los Cerritos Wetlands, SEASP

Los Cerritos Wetlands, SEASP

Los Cerritos Wetlands: Before Restoration 2016

The preservation and restoration of Los Cerritos Wetlands is a complex and continually unfolding process.  Our chapter has a strong interest in participating.

Our goal is to ensure that any restoration work is rooted in the idea of maximizing the ecological health of the site.

Our concern is that when business interests are involved, as they are here, economic expediency tends to direct restoration activity.

If we are not vigilant, we run the risk of being left with a restored site that meets the minimal standards of acceptability.

Please click this link for detailed info:


Black-crowned Night-Heron & Snowy Egret Rookery

A victory for the birds!  Thank you to our conservation chair, Mary Parsell for her heroic efforts in protecting the nesting black-crowned night herons and snowy egrets in this tree.  This juvenile black-crowned (one of at least a dozen) has favorable odds of making it into adulthood.