National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count is just around the corner!
Mark your calendars now for 21st Annual Sea Ranch Christmas Bird Count. This count supports the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Everyone- old and young, new and experienced birders- are welcome to take part!
When: Saturday, December 2, 2017:
What: A walk to get in practice for winter birding will be led by Cheryl Harris and Dorothy Gregor. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Del Mar Center parking lot.
When: Thursday, December 28, 2017 (NOTE–Date Change)
What: Participants are encouraged to attend the Organizational Meeting from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Del Mar Center House for group sign-ups and to meet leaders. Meeting places will be determined at the December 28th Organizational Meeting.
When: Saturday, January 6, 2018 (Count Day):
What: Experienced birders will lead participants to 10 areas of The Sea Ranch to count. All birds seen on that day will be recorded. Bluff top, meadows and forest areas will be covered. Bring binoculars and a field guide, and dress for all kinds of weather (severe weather moves count day to January 7). Also don’t forget to stock your feeders. New and experienced birders welcome.
When: Sunday, January 7, 2018
We will meet at the Del Mar Center House from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. to count and share sightings. Bring some lunch or snacks to share.
Call us with questions and for more information. We look forward to seeing you.
Diane Hichwa (email@example.com) or Cheryl Harris (707-294-6423).
Longest Running Citizen Science Survey
Citizen Science engages volunteers in the collection of ecological information. In this case, National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count is the longest running Citizen Science Survey in the world. In this case, the holiday bird counts calculate bird populations at a time when migrating and native birds are “wintering.” Once again, this year’s Christmas Bird Count is by people just like you.
The Sea Ranch Joins in with an Unofficial Christmas Bird Count
Some localities, such as The Sea Ranch and vicinity, hold an unofficial count. Naturally, bird lovers flock to join in this low-key fun effort by counting the species and individual birds present on The Sea Ranch on a particular day or weekend.
Recording the Birds
Their recording area includes the ocean area visible from The Sea Ranch and north to the adjacent Gualala River and estuary area in the hope that they have a more inclusive count. Coupled with the Madrone Audubon Society, Sea Ranchers have teamed up with t to focus on the coastal areas including the California Coastal National Monument: rocks, islands and pinnacles exposed above mean high tide.
While the data are recorded, and a count is logged for the community’s information, they are not published within the the official results. Ultimately we do it for pleasure and to learn more about our birds on the Ranch.
Volunteers monitor seabirds in the following areas:
- Nesting in breeding season,
- Survey coastal islands quarterly to establish baseline information in case oil spillage or changing sea levels impact our coastal habitats,
- Track during non-breeding season to see how species usage varies through the year,
- Search for the incredibly camouflaged nests of Black Oystercatchers,
- Track the reproductive success of the Black Oystercatchers,
- Locate a rare grass on the bluff edge (and a single known island occurrence) and record its locations along a ten mile stretch of ocean bluff,
- Monitor beach debris,
- Help in a long-term intertidal survey,
- Offer quarterly nature walks to broaden public interest and background.
Your help is welcome; if you want to volunteer, please contact contact Diane Hichwa at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 707-785-1922 (Sea Ranch), 707-483-3130 (cell).
Include the Christmas Bird Count in Your Vacation Plans
The Christmas Bird Count is one of the annual special events held at The Sea Ranch. Planning and count dates are usually announced by November. This traditional event is held early in the first week of January. An orientation meeting is held after Christmas. .
Exchanging Notepads for Guns
Since 1900, this long held tradition started on Christmas Day. Ornithologist Frank M. Chapman was an early officer in the then newly formed Audubon Society. Before this, huntsmen would often hold a Christmas “Side Hunt.” Sides would be selected and the teams would hunt the field with their guns. The winning team would be whoever brought in the biggest pile of game (both feathered and furred).
A New Holiday Tradition
Chapman initiated a new holiday tradition – a “Christmas Bird Census”- that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. (See: pdf of the first Audubon Christmas Bird Count of 1900)
Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count told by Chan Robbins from Audubon Science on Vimeo.
Join the National Christmas Bird Count
All Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 to January 5, inclusive dates, each season. Notably, this year will be no different. A map view of the circles expected to be included in the 118th CBC can be found here. If you’re interested in participating this season, check out the map to find a count near you. Of course, more circles will be added as they are approved for the 118th CBC and beyond. Up to the present time, green and yellow circles are open for new participants, and red circles are full. Please note online registration will not be available for the 118th Count—please contact compilers by email using the information from the pop-ups on the map
Then the count results are published online by National Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Everyone can participate no matter ability and there is no limit to the number of counts you may attend!
When and Where Will the National Christmas Bird Counts Be Held in California?
To find a Christmas Bird Count near you in California visit Nature Alley’s Website. In the side column you will find all the dates, locations, and team leaders to date.
Be aware these may be placeholder dates for some. Only those with an asterisk are confirmed dates. Check back here for updates and date confirmations. Many counts are weather permitting. Make sure you contact your compiler to verify that the count hasn’t been postponed or cancelled.
Mendocino County Christmas Bird Count Locations:
- Fort Bragg (CAFB), Saturday, December 30, 2015. Mendocino County, Compiler: Tim Bray, Phone: (707) 937-4422 Tim Bray at 937-4422 or email.
- For the Manchester count, contact the count compiler Dave Jensen at 964-8163 or email.
Redwood Region Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count Locations:
- Arcata, Humboldt County, Saturday, December 16, 2017, Compiler: Tony Kurz
- Tall Trees, Humboldt County, January 2, 2018, Ken Burton, Phone: (707) 499-1146
Marin County Christmas Bird Count Locations:
- Point Reyes Peninsula, Saturday December 16, 2015
- Southern Marin County: Compilers: Ed Nute and Bob Hinz
Sonoma County Christmas Bird Count Locations:
- Area Leader Contact List 2017 (pdf)
- Santa Rosa CBC Sunday, December 17, 2017, Contact Bill Doyle
- Sonoma Valley CBC Friday, December 29, 2017 Contact Gene Hunn or call 981-7301.
- Saturday, December 30, 2015 – Western Sonoma County, Sonoma County: Compiler: Veronica Bowers: Phone: (707) 829-2955
- The Sea Ranch, January 7, 2018
- Spring Lake Regional Park CBC4Kids, Saturday, December 16, 2017, 10:00am to 12:00pm, Questions or Sign-ups: Susan Kirks or call 707-241-5548.
- To register click here
- Oakland occurs Sunday, December 17, 2017 (Registration is now closed for our Oakland count.)
- San Francisco, December 27, 2017
How Does Participation Work?
Of course, being a scientific study, there is a specific methodology to the CBC. First, all participants must make arrangements to participate in advance with the circle compiler within an established circle. Anyone can participate, including youth. Typically participants are assigned to teams based on their bird identification skill level and endurance.
All birds are to be counted, not just a specific species.
- Participants are typically assigned to teams based on their bird identification skill level and endurance
- Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle
- The count compiler organizes the group
- Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle
- Every bird seen and heard all day is counted to give an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day
Bird Watching and Counting at The Sea Ranch
Bird watching is a wonderful way to get outdoors, walk the trails, and enjoy all the marvelous creatures inhabiting Sea Ranch. Of course, whether you are able to join us for the Christmas Bird Count, or simply wish to observe the many bird species that call Sea Ranch home , we definitely have you covered at Abalone Bay. Besides binoculars, you’ll find bird books and trail maps to make it easy for you to try your hand at bird watching. In fact, at Sea Ranch you’ll discover more than 100 different species of birds that live in or frequent the area every year.
Sea Ranch- An Active Bird-watching Community
And you will most likely not be alone in your endeavors. In fact The Sea Ranch has a very active bird-watching community that
- maintains a list of birds that sighted at The Sea Ranch and its vicinity since its inception in 1964
- conducts an annual unofficial Christmas Bird Count in January
- sponsors a monthly bird walk, usually on the first Monday
- participates in local counts and research projects
So feel free to join in when you are a guest staying at Abalone Bay!
Species You May Encounter When Bird Watching
Bird Watching Guide for Sea Ranch
Below is a listing made in 2007 of 221 birds is based on the sightings of various individuals, including notably, local birders, Al Wool and John Arnold. Of great interest to birders is“The Sea Ranch and Vicinity”which includes the ocean visible from The Sea Ranch and the adjacent Gualala River.
This list of birds includes a Sea Ranch Abundance Code as follows:
- C=Common seen >90% of time
- FC=Fairly common 50-90% of time
- U=Uncommon 10-50% of time
- R=Rare <10% of time
- X=Extremely Rare (fewer than 10 sightings in TSR history
Resources for Sea Ranch, Mendonoma Birders
“Birders” find greater detail and resources in one or more of the following resources:
- Arnold, John R., Birds of The Sea Ranch and Adjacent Gualala River – An Annotated Field list , 27 pp.; find the unpublished manuscript at the library section of the Gualala Point Park, Gualala, CA, circa 1976-7.
- Burage, Betty, Ed. Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas, Madrone Audibon Society, 1995.
- Bolander, Gordon L. & Benj. D. Parmeter, Birds of Sonoma County, California – An Annotated Checklist and Birding gazetteer, Redwood Region Ornithological Soc., publ. By Benjamin D. Parmeter, 1978.
- Keiffer, Robert J., Field Checklist of the Birds of Mendocino Co., CA, privately published by author, P. O. Box 354, Hopland CA 95449 (For sale at Gualala Books, Gualala, CA), 1993.
- Tobkin, Dorothy Checklist of the Birds of MacKerricher State Park, Mendocino Area Parks Assoc. P. O. Box 1387, Mendocino, CA 95460, March 26,1996.
- Wool., Al, Ecotopia, wildlife in the “Life on the Sea Ranch Series”, available from TSR Association, 1993.
Birds sighted at The Sea Ranch and Vicinity
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Abundance|
|Red-throated Loon||Gavia stellata||U|
|Pacific Loon||Gavia pacifica||FC|
|Common Loon||Gavia immer||FC|
|Pied-billed Grebe||Podilymbus podiceps||U|
|Horned Grebe||Podiceps auritus||FC|
|Red-necked Grebe||Podiceps grisegena||U|
|Eared Grebe||Podiceps nigricollis||FC|
|Western Grebe||Aechmophorus occidentalis||FC|
|Clark’s Grebe||Aechmophorus clarkii||U|
|Wandering Albatross||Diomedea exulans||X|
|Pink-footed Shearwater||Puffinus creatopus||X|
|Flesh-footed Shearwater||Puffinus carneipes||X|
|Sooty Shearwater||Puffinus griseus||X|
|Brown Pelican||Pelecanus occidentalis||C|
|Brandt’s Cormorant||Phalacrocorax penicillatus||C|
|Double-crested Cormorant||Phalacrocorax auritus||C|
|Pelagic Cormorant||Phalacrocorax pelagicus||C|
|Magnificent Frigatebird||Fregata magnificens||U|
|Great Blue Heron||Ardea herodias||C|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba||FC|
|Snowy Egret||Egretta thula||U|
|Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis||R|
|Green Heron||Butorides virescens||U|
|Black-crowned Night-Heron||Nycticorax nycticorax||U|
|Turkey Vulture||Cathartes aura||C|
|Canada Goose||Branta canadensis||C|
|Wood Duck||Aix sponsa||U|
|American Wigeon||Anas americana||U|
|Cinnamon Teal||Anas cyanoptera||U|
|Northern Shoveler||Anas clypeata||U|
|Northern Pintail||Anas acuta||U|
|Green-winged Teal||Anas crecca||FC|
|Harlequin Duck||Histrionicus histrionicus||FC|
|Surf Scoter||Melanitta perspicillata||FC|
|White-winged Scoter||Melanitta fusca||FC|
|Black Scoter||Melanitta nigra||U|
|Common Goldeneye||Bucephala clangula||U|
|Hooded Merganser||Lophodytes cucullatus||U|
|Common Merganser||Mergus merganser||FC|
|Red-breasted Merganser||Mergus serrator||FC|
|Ruddy Duck||Oxyura jamaicensis||FC|
|White-tailed Kite||Elanus leucurus||C|
|Bald Eagle||Haliaeetus leucocephalus||R|
|Northern Harrier||Circus cyaneus||FC|
|Sharp-shinned Hawk||Accipiter striatus||U|
|Cooper’s Hawk||Accipiter cooperii||U|
|Red-shouldered Hawk||Buteo lineatus||FC|
|Broad-winged Hawk||Buteo platypterus||R|
|Red-tailed Hawk||Buteo jamaicensis||C|
|Ferruginous Hawk||Buteo regalis||U|
|Rough-legged Hawk||Buteo lagopus||U|
|Golden Eagle||Aquila chrysaetos||R|
|American Kestrel||Falco sparverius||FC|
|Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus||U|
|Wild Turkey||Meleagris gallopavo||C|
|California Quail||Callipepla californica||C|
|Virginia Rail||Rallus limicola||R|
|American Coot||Fulica americana||C|
|Black-bellied Plover||Pluvialis squatarola||FC|
|Pacific Golden-Plover||Pluvialis fulva||U|
|Semipalmated Plover||Charadrius semipalmatus||FC|
|Black Oystercatcher||Haematopus bachmani||C|
|American Avocet||Recurvirostra americana||UC|
|Greater Yellowlegs||Tringa melanoleuca||UC|
|Lesser Yellowlegs||Tringa flavipes||R|
|Wandering Tattler||Heteroscelus incanus||FC|
|Spotted Sandpiper||Actitis macularia||C|
|Marbled Godwit||Limosa fedoa||U|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres||U|
|Black Turnstone||Arenaria melanocephala||C|
|Western Sandpiper||Calidris mauri||FC|
|Least Sandpiper||Calidris minutilla||FC|
|Baird’s Sandpiper||Calidris bairdii||R|
|Pectoral Sandpiper||Calidris melanotos||R|
|Short-billed Dowitcher||Limnodromus griseus||UC|
|Long-billed Dowitcher||Limnodromus scolopaceus||UC|
|Wilson’s Phalarope||Phalaropus tricolor||R|
|Red-necked Phalarope||Phalaropus lobatus||U|
|Red Phalarope||Phalaropus fulicaria||R|
|Pomarine Jaeger||Stercorarius pomarinus||R|
|Long-tailed Jaeger||Stercorarius longicaudus||R|
|Bonaparte’s Gull||Larus philadelphia||UC|
|Heermann’s Gull||Larus heermanni||C|
|Mew Gull||Larus canus||C|
|Ring-billed Gull||Larus delawarensis||C|
|California Gull||Larus californicus||C|
|Herring Gull||Larus argentatus||FC|
|Thayer’s Gull||Larus thayeri||R|
|Western Gull||Larus occidentalis||C|
|Glaucous-winged Gull||Larus glaucescens||C|
|Glaucous Gull||Larus hyperboreus||R|
|Black-legged Kittiwake||Rissa tridactyla||R|
|Caspian Tern||Sterna caspia||FC|
|Elegant Tern||Sterna elegans||R|
|Forster’s Tern||Sterna forsteri||U|
|Common Murre||Uria aalge||FC|
|Pigeon Guillemot||Cepphus columba||C|
|Ancient Murrelet||Synthliboramphus antiquus||R|
|Rhinoceros Auklet||Cerorhinca monocerata||R|
|Rock Dove||Columba livia||FC|
|Band-tailed Pigeon||Columba fasciata||C|
|Mourning Dove||Zenaida macroura||C|
|Barn Owl||Tyto alba||R|
|Western Screech-Owl||Otus kennicottii||U|
|Great Horned Owl||Bubo virginianus||U|
|Northern Pygmy-Owl||Glaucidium gnoma||U|
|Burrowing Owl||Athene cunicularia||R|
|Spotted Owl||Strix occidentalis||R|
|Northern Saw-whet Owl||Aegolius acadicus||R|
|Common Nighthawk||Chordeiles minor||R|
|Common Poorwill||Phalaenoptilus nuttallii||X|
|Vaux’s Swift||Chaetura vauxi||U|
|Anna’s Hummingbird||Calypte anna||C|
|Rufous Hummingbird||Selasphorus rufus||C|
|Allen’s Hummingbird||Selasphorus sasin||C|
|Belted Kingfisher||Ceryle alcyon||C|
|Acorn Woodpecker||Melanerpes formicivorus||C|
|Red-breasted Sapsucker||Sphyrapicus ruber||FC|
|Downy Woodpecker||Picoides pubescens||C|
|Hairy Woodpecker||Picoides villosus||C|
|Northern Flicker||Colaptes auratus||C|
|Pileated Woodpecker||Dryocopus pileatus||FC|
|Olive-sided Flycatcher||Contopus cooperi||FC|
|Western Wood-Pewee||Contopus sordidulus||FC|
|Willow Flycatcher||Empidonax traillii||R|
|Pacific-slope Flycatcher||Empidonax difficilis||C|
|Black Phoebe||Sayornis nigricans||C|
|Say’s Phoebe||Sayornis saya||U|
|Ash-throated Flycatcher||Myiarchus cinerascens||X|
|Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher||Myiodynastes luteiventris||X|
|Western Kingbird||Tyrannus verticalis||R|
|Scissor-tailed Flycatcher||Tyrannus forficatus||X|
|Loggerhead Shrike||Lanius ludovicianus||R|
|Cassin’s Vireo||Vireo cassinii||FC|
|Hutton’s Vireo||Vireo huttoni||C|
|Warbling Vireo||Vireo gilvus||C|
|Gray Jay||Perisoreus canadensis||R|
|Steller’s Jay||Cyanocitta stelleri||C|
|Western Scrub-Jay||Aphelocoma californica||C|
|Common Raven||Corvus corax||C|
|Purple Martin||Progne subis||FC|
|Tree Swallow||Tachycineta bicolor||FC|
|Violet-green Swallow||Tachycineta thalassina||FC|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow||Stelgidopteryx serripennis||FC|
|Cliff Swallow||Petrochelidon pyrrhonota||C|
|Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica||C|
|Chestnut-backed Chickadee||Poecile rufescens||C|
|Oak Titmouse||Baeolophus inornatus||U|
|Red-breasted Nuthatch||Sitta canadensis||FC|
|White-breasted Nuthatch||Sitta carolinensis||U|
|Pygmy Nuthatch||Sitta pygmaea||FC|
|Brown Creeper||Certhia americana||C|
|Rock Wren||Salpinctes obsoletus||X|
|Bewick’s Wren||Thryomanes bewickii||U|
|House Wren||Troglodytes aedon||U|
|Winter Wren||Troglodytes troglodytes||C|
|Marsh Wren||Cistothorus palustris||R|
|Golden-crowned Kinglet||Regulus satrapa||U|
|Ruby-crowned Kinglet||Regulus calendula||FC|
|Western Bluebird||Sialia mexicana||FC|
|Townsend’s Solitaire||Myadestes townsendi||R|
|Swainson’s Thrush||Catharus ustulatus||C|
|Hermit Thrush||Catharus guttatus||C|
|American Robin||Turdus migratorius||C|
|Varied Thrush||Ixoreus naevius||FC|
|Northern Mockingbird||Mimus polyglottos||U|
|European Starling||Sturnus vulgaris||C|
|American Pipit||Anthus rubescens||FC|
|Cedar Waxwing||Bombycilla cedrorum||FC|
|Orange-crowned Warbler||Vermivora celata||C|
|Nashville Warbler||Vermivora ruficapilla||U|
|Yellow Warbler||Dendroica petechia||U|
|Yellow-rumped Warbler||Dendroica coronata||C|
|Black-throated Gray Warbler||Dendroica nigrescens||R|
|Townsend’s Warbler||Dendroica townsendi||C|
|Hermit Warbler||Dendroica occidentalis||C|
|Palm Warbler||Dendroica palmarum||R|
|MacGillivray’s Warbler||Oporornis tolmiei||U|
|Common Yellowthroat||Geothlypis trichas||FC|
|Wilson’s Warbler||Wilsonia pusilla||C|
|Yellow-breasted Chat||Icteria virens||R|
|Western Tanager||Piranga ludoviciana||R|
|Spotted Towhee||Pipilo maculatus||C|
|California Towhee||Pipilo crissalis||C|
|Chipping Sparrow||Spizella passerina||U|
|Vesper Sparrow||Pooecetes gramineus||R|
|Savannah Sparrow||Passerculus sandwichensis||FC|
|Grasshopper Sparrow||Ammodramus savannarum||X|
|Fox Sparrow||Passerella iliaca||FC|
|Song Sparrow||Melospiza melodia||C|
|Lincoln’s Sparrow||Melospiza lincolnii||U|
|White-throated Sparrow||Zonotrichia albicollis||X|
|White-crowned Sparrow||Zonotrichia leucophrys||C|
|Golden-crowned Sparrow||Zonotrichia atricapilla||FC|
|Dark-eyed Junco||Junco hyemalis||C|
|Rose-breasted Grosbeak||Pheucticus ludovicianus||X|
|Black-headed Grosbeak||Pheucticus melanocephalus||R|
|Lazuli Bunting||Passerina amoena||R|
|Red-winged Blackbird||Agelaius phoeniceus||C|
|Western Meadowlark||Sturnella neglecta||C|
|Yellow-headed Blackbird||Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus||R|
|Brown-headed Cowbird||Molothrus ater||C|
|Bullock’s Oriole||Icterus bullockii||U|
|Purple Finch||Carpodacus purpureus||U|
|House Finch||Carpodacus mexicanus||C|
|Red Crossbill||Loxia curvirostra||U|
|Pine Siskin||Carduelis pinus||FC|
|Lesser Goldfinch||Carduelis psaltria||U|
|American Goldfinch||Carduelis tristis||C|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus||FC|
More Resources for Bird Watching and Christmas Bird Count in Mendonoma
Visit Nature Alley for more information on all CBC’s
Madrone Audubon Society: The Sonoma County Chapter of the National Audubon Society
Birders tally up species in 48th annual West Sonoma County Christmas Bird Count: 2014 Press Democrat
Audubon article on Frank Chapman’s bird count in 1886. He counted the feathers of 40 species of birds on women’s hats in Manhattan – the impetus for the Christmas Bird Count.