San Francisco’s Natural History

April 20, 2017

Now I am shipping copies and taking orders.  This title is on sale at Green Apple Books near Sixth and Clement in the Richmond District, also at Alexander Book Company south of Market on Second Street.  This book is available for order from Amazon as a paperback and inexpensive Kindle download.

The San Francisco Public LIbrary system has six copies of the book you can borrow for free.

SAN FRANCISCO’S NATURAL HISTORY
FROM SAND DUNES TO STREETCARS69644847_Kindle Ready Front Cover JPEG_7303473


This book sells for $25 with free shipping if you order from me.  See bottom of this blog for related websites and news updates on San Francisco’s environment.

This book traces the changes in San Francisco’s landscape from the days of the Ohlone to the present.  What native species were present when only Native Americans lived here? What animal grazed, flew or swam here? In the wild countryside what natural waterways supported life?  What trees, fruits, and flowering plants would the Ohlone have known and used?  And…what happened to all that after the Europeans arrived? It’s a dramatic cascade of changes, filled with disappearance and devastation, ruin, restoration and rebirth.  As the centuries passed and the cityscape developed and changed, so has the natural landscape and the creatures in it, including us–humans, whose values and actions have altered and shaped everything.

In spite of what amounts to obliteration of the old natural environment, many native species survive and even thrive in the modern city.  “Life” here includes wildlife. Contemporary restoration projects mover forward.  Brown Pelicans and coyotes have been joined by new immigrants like collared-doves and eastern gray squirrels.  Forests of introduced trees today host Red-shouldered Hawks and Hooded Orioles. And yet, there is not stasis and never has been. Now comes climate change.  All is flux.

Through this book, I hope to help provide knowledge and perspective on what has gone before, but also what we now face.  To protect and preserve this peninsula, this beautiful piece of our planet, the decisions we humans must make are not just cosmetic, they are matters of life and death.  People must understand what’s happened and what’s happening in order to avoid repeating devastating mistakes of the past, and in order to proceed wisely and humanely into the future. From open space to micro-plastic pollution, the decisions rest with us.

SOME EXCERPTS

The want of sufficient level space on which to found so great and growing a city, has been partially rectified, at an enormous expense, by taking building ground from the waters, and by lowering, and in many cases absolutely removing bodily the multitude of sand hills, by which the place is immediately surrounded. What with digging out and filling up, piling, capping and planking, grading and regrading the streets, and shifting, and rebuilding, and again rebuilding the houses, to suit the altered levels, millions upon millions of dollars have been spent.                                       –Frank Soule, et al., The Annals of San Francisco, 1855

***

Nature’s plan has evolved through millions of years while man’s plans for the earth cover a short span of time and are very often both selfish and short-sighted.
–Helen Cruickshank, Thoreau’s Birds, 1964


***

Captain Jean François de La Perouse from France was the first European from outside the Spanish Empire to visit California after the founding of the missions and pueblos. In September 1786, he spent time in Monterey. About Monterey Bay he wrote: “It is impossible to describe the number of whales with which we were surrounded, or their familiarity. They spouted every half minute within pistol shot of our frigates, and caused a most annoying stench. We were unacquainted with this property in the whale, but the inhabitants informed us that the water thrown out by them is impregnated with this offensive smell.”

***

            In 1792–1793, Archibald Menzies, the medical officer for the British Expedition, headed by Captain George Vancouver, was immediately taken with the dramatic “broad sheet of water” that is the bay, described in the epigraph to this chapter. The observations by Menzies and other expedition crew are valuable as baseline information about how the area was changed over the decades that followed their visit. During their stay in the fall of 1792, the British sailors reported a large number of waterfowl in the marsh that is now Crissy Field. Menzies describes the area between Fort Mason and Fort Point as a “low track of Marshy Land along shore, with some Salt Water Lagoons that were supplied by the overflowings of high Tides and oozings through the Sandy Beach: on these we saw abundance of Ducks and wild Geese…”  Vancouver mentions large livestock flocks. He is visiting in 1792, less than two decades after the first colonists arrived from Mexico. Yet, already hundreds of domestic animals are ranging across a fragile landscape.

***

1820   Estimated 200,000 northern fur seals killed for their pelts.

1932  First Mockingbird sighted in San Francisco.

***

One of the few surface streams still to be seen in San Francisco runs down Glen Canyon. It constitutes the headwaters of Precita Creek, which joins Islais Creek, named from the Ohlone word for hollyleaf cherry… In 1869 America’s first dynamite factory, the Giant Powder Company, blew up in Glen Canyon. Also, in the late 1800s, the canyon, then known as Rock Gulch, supported a private zoo and amusement park.

***

San Francisco’s original grasslands and coastal scrub are almost gone. Most grassland fell before invasive plants, pavement, housing, and other heavy use. A large swath of coastal prairie in McLaren Park became Gleneagles Golf Course. Fortunately, a parcel of nearly natural habitat survives on the eastern slope of Mount Davidson.

***

Farallones: Research over the past four decades by Point Blue has shown that Common Murres are now breeding earlier in the year, in response to climate change and its effects on upwelling in the California current.

***

Golden Gate Park: In 1870, when this land was set aside by the city government for a park, it was largely sand dunes. Before it was landscaped and planted, there were a few willow-bordered lakes on the site, some squatters in residence, and scattered oak groves in sheltered areas furthest from the windy beach. The most respected landscape expert at the time was Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park. He warned San Francisco these lands outside the city limits were not suitable for a proper urban, forested park. Olmsted’s conclusion about a park in the city was part cautionary, part damning: “There is not a full grown tree of beautiful proportions near San Francisco, nor have I seen any young trees that promise fairly, except, perhaps, of certain compact clump forms of evergreens, wholly wanting in grace and cheerfulness. It would not be wise nor safe to undertake to form a park upon any plan which assumed as a certainty that trees which would delight the eye can be made to grow near San Francisco.”

***

In 2010, the public had no idea that harmful micro-beads of plastic were being put into many consumer products and we were all guilty of spreading them across the planet. The San Francisco Estuary Institute and its partners are now studying the presence of micro-plastics and nano-plastics in San Francisco Bay. This research is being led by Dr. Rebecca Sutton. Her preliminary study found the bay was more contaminated by plastic than the Great Lakes or Chesapeake Bay.

***

Perhaps most threatening are a group of invasive Asian earthworms first identified on the East Coast and found in Oregon in 2016. The risk from these invaders is that they feed on the surface material in forests, quickly turning leaf litter and fallen plant matter into worm food and then feces. They drive out nondestructive worm species and clear the soil for erosion and desiccation, weakening forests trying to survive climate change and drought.

***

Climate change: Just how bad can this get?  A scientific look back at a previous die-off caused by ocean acidification brings up terrifying images if you value any currently living creature.  Volcanologist Seth Burgess studied the geological and biological changes that took place at the end of the Permian period about 250-255 million years ago.  It wasn’t simply the end of a geological age, it was the end of most living organisms.  Fossil records show that 90% of all ocean organisms and 70% of those on land went extinct. Trees and coral reefs disappeared. 

=============

Other links pertaining to this book:

Newslinks, stories pertinent to San Francisco’s natural history—present and future.

Table of Contents

Species named in the book

San Francisco images, before 1860 
San Francisco images, 1860 to present 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

GREAT GRAY OWL RANGE MAPS FOR PACIFIC SLOPE

June 30, 2016

Here are the range maps from our Great Gray Owl book, feel free to use and copy. Please give us credit as these are original maps based on our research.  I hope in twenty years new maps will show that there are owls in some of the interstices and that the species is thriving. Much of this information came from direct witnesses including many helpful biologists with federal and state agencies.great_gray_owl_range-california_2015great_gray_owl_range-eastern_oregon_2015great_gray_owl_range-washington_state_2015great_gray_owl_range-western_oregon_2015

We have provided much needed information for the wikipedia entry on this species, Check it out here.

GREAT GRAY OWL VIDEOS

April 4, 2016

There is a series of four Great Gray Owl videos taken in March, 2016, near Howard Prairie in the Cascades east of Ashland, OR.  A blog on my birding site has links to each of the videos, including one showing the mated pair preening one another.

Click for link to that blog.

BIRDS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

March 14, 2016

A BIBLIOGRPHY:

CLIMATE CHANGE: A SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR PACIFIC COAST BIRDERS

Alaska’s spruce bark beetle crisis:

http://forestry.alaska.gov/insects/sprucebarkbeetle.htm

Amphibian decline:

http://amphibiaweb.org/declines/declines.html

Aridity:

A Great Aridness. William de Buys.

All the Wild That Remains. David Gessner. Book describes the environmental thoughts of Stegner and Abbey and author visits sites they knew and loved.

When the Rivers Run Dry. Fred Pearce.

Atlantic Ocean Plankton Bloom: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/climate-change-atlantic-plankton-bloom-reflects-soaring-carbon-dioxide-levels-scientists-say-a6750241.html

Audubon Society study on birds affected by climate change: http://climate.audubon.org/

Avian keratin disorder:

http://atowhee.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/freak-beak/

I am investigating an epizootic of similar bill deformities in Alaska. This epizootic has recently spread to the Pacific Northwest, with a large cluster of bill deformities appearing in the Puget Sound region. Birds affected by this ‘avian keratin disorder’ have bills that are abnormally long and often crossed, such as in this nuthatch. We’ve determined that the keratin layer of the beak (like the material in a person’s fingernails) is growing too rapidly. Despite extensive testing, we still don’t know what’s causing the problem. We’ve documented beak deformities among a large number of species, including chickadees, crows, nuthatches, jays, woodpeckers, ravens, and several raptors. We are very interested in receiving reports of any birds with abnormal bills such as this one. Please visit our website at the USGS Alaska Science Center or contact me directly:

http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/landbirds/beak_deformity/index.html

–Colleen Handel
Research Wildlife Biologist
USGS Alaska Science Center
cmhandel@usgs.gov

Beetle infestation:

Empire of the Beetle. Andrew Nikiforuk.

Birds as sentinel species: “Canaries in a Global Cole Mine?” pp. 1337-1338. “Ecology” 88(5), 2007. Review of the book Birds and Climate Change by Moller et al. Elsevier. Burlington, Mass. 2006.

Birds Reacting to Climate Change: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160117/news/160119263/

Bobcat-lynx hybrids:

http://www.nrri.umn.edu/lynx/information/hybrid.html

Bumble bee evolution right now: Functional mismatch in a bumble bee pollination mutualism under climate change. Authors: Nicole E. Miller-Struttmann, Jennifer C. Geib, James D. Franklin, et al.     Science 25 September 2015: 1541-1544. [DOI:10.1126/science.aab0868] Researchers write: “We found that in two alpine bumble bee species, decreases in tongue length have evolved over 40 years. Co-occurring flowers have not become shallower, nor are small-flowered plants more prolific. We argue that declining floral resources because of warmer summers have favored generalist foraging, leading to a mismatch between shorter-tongued bees and the longer-tubed plants they once pollinated.”

California climate change:

http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/climate_action_team/reports/

http://oehha.ca.gov/multimedia/epic/   [this contains list of all state’s climate change reports]

California’s official West Nile Virus website:

http://westnile.ca.gov/wnv_basics.htm

California West Nile infection map:

http://westnile.ca.gov/latest_activity.php

Carbon tetrachloride still being emitted:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/23/ozone-depleting-compound-found_n_5701157.html

Center for Biological Diversity:

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/index.html

Christmas Bird Count Analysis:

WWW.audubon.org/bird/bacc/species.html

Climate change anxiety:

http://www.care2.com/causes/climate-change-anxiety-and-how-we-can-become-climate-resilient.html

Climate change disagreement, not debate:

“How to Talk About climate Change So People Will Listen. By Charles Mann. “The Atlantic,” Sept., 2014.

Climate-induced Faunal Change in North America. Joshua Lawler, et al. Ecological Society of America. “Ecology.” Vol. 90. March, 2009. 588-597.

Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis. By John Berger. Northbrae Books. 2014.

Coal use worse than we’ve been told:

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28942403

Coal burning waste:

http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c02d.html

Cod Population Collapses in Maine waters:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2015/1029/Fishermen-obeyed-their-quotas-so-why-did-Maine-cod-stocks-collapse

Clean energy getting cheaper: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/03/climate-change-and-conservative-brain-death.html

“Climate for Coffee” in “National Geographic” magazine. Sept. 2015.

Cool it. The Climate Issue. National Geographic. November, 2015.

Corvids replanting forests: http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/corvids-could-save-forests-from-the-effects-of-climate-change/

Drought to Extend Beyond Western U.S.
http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2016/0222/Not-just-a-western-problem-drought-threatens-forests-across-US

Eggs Hatch Early:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/grrlscientist/2016/02/18/the-heat-is-on-climate-change-causes-birds-to-hatch-early/#59ff96293f0c

 

Extinction

Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Elizabeth Colbert. Henry Holt. 2014.

Extinctions predicted:

“Extinction risk from climate change” letter in Nature 427, 145-148 (8 January 2004) | doi:10.1038/nature02121; Received 10 September 2003; Accepted 13 October 2003, By Chris Thomas, et al.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html

Feral.   George Monbiot. Penguin. 2013. Argues for helping all animals and plants find space for survival.

Website for book: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/05/24/feral-searching-for-enchantment-on-the-frontiers-of-rewilding/

Greenhouse gas list, according to IPCC:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_list_of_greenhouse_gases

Greenland ice sheet loss accelerates:

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28852980

Grizzly-Polar Bear Hybridization

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/magazine/should-you-fear-the-pizzly-bear.html?

Health hazards with climate change:

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/health.html

IPCC report, Fall, 2014:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2014/08/26/climate-change-report-united-nations/14638079/

Christina Larson “Hostile shores”

Science 9 October 2015: 150-152. [DOI:10.1126/science.350.6257.150]. Describes environmental degradation of marshlands used by Asian migrant birds.

 

Methane from rice:

http://www.ghgonline.org/methanerice.htm

Methane sources:

http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

Miami: The Siege of Miami. Elizabeth Kolbert. New Yorker magazine. Dec. 21 & 28, 2015. Pp. 42-50.

Minnesota moose population:

http://www.startribune.com/local/270761141.html

Moose population decreases:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/science/earth/something-is-killing-off-the-moose.html

Monarch migration and species hybrids on NPR’s “On Point:”

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/08/20/monarch-butterflies-migration-climate-change

Monarch population decline:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-monarch-butterfly-milkweed-environment-ecology-science/

Monarch population decline covered by “Living on Earth,” of NPR:

http://www.loe.org/shows/shows.html?programID=14-P13-00026

Monterey pine disease:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_pitch_canker

Mountaintop species and climate change:

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/mountaintop_species/index.html

National Wildlife Federation, on adaptation to climate change:

www.nwf.org/climate-smart

Oak sudden death:

http://www.suddenoakdeath.org/

Ocean acidification effects on marine life:

http://oceana.org/en/our-work/climate-energy/ocean-acidification/learn-act/effects-of-ocean-acidification-on-marine-species-ecosystems

“PATHOLOGY ASSOCIATED WITH WEST NILE VIRUS INFECTIONS IN THE YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE (PICA NUTTALLI): A CALIFORNIA ENDEMIC BIRD”

Holly B. Ernest, Leslie W. Woods and Bruce R. Hoar

Journal of Wildlife Diseases Apr 2010, Vol. 46, No. 2 (April 2010) pp. 401-408

M

 

Moller, Anders, et al. (eds). Feeling the Heat. Elsevier, Burlington, MA. 2006.

Pepperwood Preserve climate change studies:

http://app.pepperwoodpreserve.org/pls/apex/f?p=514:10:7789024140228

Phytophthora: a plant killer loose in California
https://baynature.org/articles/phytophthora-new-strains-breaking-the-mold/

Pine beetles:

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/whats_killing_the_great_forests_of_the_american_west/2252/

Pollinator Threats: http://www.ipbes.net/article/pollinators-vital-our-food-supply-under-threat

Rising land:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-21/epic-drought-in-west-is-literally-moving-mountains.html

Satellite Launched to Monitor Sea Level: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/satellite-launched-to-monitor-sea-level-global-warming/

Solar power installation kills birds:

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/08/22/pecking-order-energys-toll-on-birds

Species Moving Toward the Poles Eli Fenichel from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies: https://environment.yale.edu/profile/eli-fenichel/research

Starfish die-off on Pacific Coast:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scientists-zero-whats-causing-starfish-die-offs/

Tricolored Blackbird Population Crisis

http://ca.audubon.org/newsroom/press-releases/2014/california-fish-and-game-commission-considers-emergency-listing-tricolo

Urban heat islands:

www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/20/urban-heat-island-effect-us-cities_n_5696009.html?

Warming hiatus:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/atlantic-ocean-slows-global-warming-but-scientists-believe-hiatus-will-end-around-2030-1.2743216?cmp=fbtl

Weather caused by climate change?   http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/11/opinion/what-weather-is-the-fault-of-climate-change.html?

White-tailed Ptarmigan’s future:

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/white-tailed_ptarmigan/map.html

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/white-tailed_ptarmigan/

Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change. Nicholas Stern. MIT Press. 2015.

World Health Organization on climate change, starvation and disease:

http://www.who.int/topics/climate/en/

 

 

HOW DID WORLD RECORD BREAKER GET HIS GREAT GRAY?

November 28, 2015

Noah Strycker came to the expert when he wanted to add15. GGO Mother tree lichen 2195 IMG_5447 Great Gray Owl to his year list as he was on his way to setting his global record for most birds seen in a calendar year.  Noah has topped 5000 species.  Here’s his blog about finding Great Gray Owls with co-author Peter Thiemann.

CLIMATE CHANGE TALK–HERE’S MY BIBLIOGRAPHY

October 10, 2015

I speak about western birds and climate change at 530pm in Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University, Ashland, Oregon on the night of October 15th. Talk is free.

CLIMATE CHANGE: A SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR PACIFIC COAST BIRDERS This bibliography include articles and books that deal with species outside the Avian clan but changes in moose or monarch populations, or diseases in forest trees cannot be isolated from similar or related affects on birds.

Alaska’s spruce bark beetle crisis:
http://forestry.alaska.gov/insects/sprucebarkbeetle.htm

Amphibian decline:
http://amphibiaweb.org/declines/declines.html

Aridity:
A Great Aridness. William de Buys.

All the Wild That Remains. David Gessner. Book describes the environmental thoughts of Stegner and Abbey and author visits sites they knew and loved.

When the Rivers Run Dry. Fred Pearce.

Avian keratin disorder:
http://atowhee.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/freak-beak/
I am investigating an epizootic of similar bill deformities in Alaska. This epizootic has recently spread to the Pacific Northwest, with a large cluster of bill deformities appearing in the Puget Sound region. Birds affected by this ‘avian keratin disorder’ have bills that are abnormally long and often crossed, such as in this nuthatch. We’ve determined that the keratin layer of the beak (like the material in a person’s fingernails) is growing too rapidly. Despite extensive testing, we still don’t know what’s causing the problem. We’ve documented beak deformities among a large number of species, including chickadees, crows, nuthatches, jays, woodpeckers, ravens, and several raptors. We are very interested in receiving reports of any birds with abnormal bills such as this one. Please visit our website at the USGS Alaska Science Center or contact me directly:
http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/landbirds/beak_deformity/index.html
–Colleen Handel
Research Wildlife Biologist
USGS Alaska Science Center
cmhandel@usgs.gov

Beetle infestation:
Empire of the Beetle. Andrew Nikiforuk.
Birds as sentinel species: “Canaries in a Global Cole Mine?” pp. 1337-1338. “Ecology” 88(5), 2007. Review of the book Birds and Climate Change by Moller et al. Elsevier. Burlington, Mass. 2006.

Bobcat-lynx hybrids:
http://www.nrri.umn.edu/lynx/information/hybrid.html

Bumble bee evolution right now: Functional mismatch in a bumble bee pollination mutualism under climate change. Authors: Nicole E. Miller-Struttmann, Jennifer C. Geib, James D. Franklin, et al. Science 25 September 2015: 1541-1544. [DOI:10.1126/science.aab0868] Researchers write: “We found that in two alpine bumble bee species, decreases in tongue length have evolved over 40 years. Co-occurring flowers have not become shallower, nor are small-flowered plants more prolific. We argue that declining floral resources because of warmer summers have favored generalist foraging, leading to a mismatch between shorter-tongued bees and the longer-tubed plants they once pollinated.”

California climate change:
http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/climate_action_team/reports/
http://oehha.ca.gov/multimedia/epic/ [this contains list of all state’s climate change reports]

California’s official West Nile Virus website:
http://westnile.ca.gov/wnv_basics.htm

California West Nile infection map:
http://westnile.ca.gov/latest_activity.php

Carbon tetrachloride still being emitted:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/23/ozone-depleting-compound-found_n_5701157.html

Center for Biological Diversity:
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/index.html

Christmas Bird Count Analysis:
WWW.audubon.org/bird/bacc/species.html

Climate change anxiety:
http://www.care2.com/causes/climate-change-anxiety-and-how-we-can-become-climate-resilient.html

Climate change disagreement, not debate:
“How to Talk About climate Change So People Will Listen. By Charles Mann. “The Atlantic,” Sept., 2014.

Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis. By John Berger. Northbrae Books. 2014.

Coal use worse than we’ve been told:
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28942403

Coal burning waste:
http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c02d.html

Coffee:
“Climate for Coffee” in “National Geographic” magazine. Sept. 2015.

Extinction
Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Elizabeth Colbert. Henry Holt. 2014.

Extinctions predicted:
“Extinction risk from climate change” letter in Nature 427, 145-148 (8 January 2004) | doi:10.1038/nature02121; Received 10 September 2003; Accepted 13 October 2003, By Chris Thomas, et al.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html

Feral. George Monbiot. Penguin. 2013. Argues for helping all animals and plants find space for survival.
Website for book: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/05/24/feral-searching-for-enchantment-on-the-frontiers-of-rewilding/

Greenhouse gas list, according to IPCC:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_list_of_greenhouse_gases

Greenland ice sheet loss accelerates:
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28852980

Grizzly-Polar Bear Hybridization
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/magazine/should-you-fear-the-pizzly-bear.html?

Health hazards with climate change:
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/health.html

IPCC report, Fall, 2014:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2014/08/26/climate-change-report-united-nations/14638079/

Christina Larson “Hostile shores”
Science 9 October 2015: 150-152. [DOI:10.1126/science.350.6257.150]. Describes environmental degradation of marshlands used by Asian migrant birds.

Methane from rice:
http://www.ghgonline.org/methanerice.htm

Methane sources:
http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

Minnesota moose population:
http://www.startribune.com/local/270761141.html

Moose population decreases:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/science/earth/something-is-killing-off-the-moose.html

Monarch migration and species hybrids on NPR’s “On Point:”
http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/08/20/monarch-butterflies-migration-climate-change

Monarch population decline:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-monarch-butterfly-milkweed-environment-ecology-science/

Monarch population decline covered by “Living on Earth,” of NPR:
http://www.loe.org/shows/shows.html?programID=14-P13-00026

Monterey pine disease:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_pitch_canker

Mountaintop species and climate change:
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/mountaintop_species/index.html

National Wildlife Federation, on adaptation to climate change:
http://www.nwf.org/climate-smart

Oak sudden death:
http://www.suddenoakdeath.org/

Ocean acidification effects on marine life:
http://oceana.org/en/our-work/climate-energy/ocean-acidification/learn-act/effects-of-ocean-acidification-on-marine-species-ecosystems
“PATHOLOGY ASSOCIATED WITH WEST NILE VIRUS INFECTIONS IN THE YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE (PICA NUTTALLI): A CALIFORNIA ENDEMIC BIRD”
Holly B. Ernest, Leslie W. Woods and Bruce R. Hoar
Journal of Wildlife Diseases Apr 2010, Vol. 46, No. 2 (April 2010) pp. 401-408
M

Moller, Anders, et al. (eds). Feeling the Heat. Elsevier, Burlington, MA. 2006.

Pepperwood Preserve climate change studies:
http://app.pepperwoodpreserve.org/pls/apex/f?p=514:10:7789024140228

Pine beetles:
http://e360.yale.edu/feature/whats_killing_the_great_forests_of_the_american_west/2252/

Rising land:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-21/epic-drought-in-west-is-literally-moving-mountains.html

Solar power installation kills birds:
http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/08/22/pecking-order-energys-toll-on-birds

Starfish die-off on Pacific Coast:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scientists-zero-whats-causing-starfish-die-offs/

Tricolored Blackbird Population Crisis
http://ca.audubon.org/newsroom/press-releases/2014/california-fish-and-game-commission-considers-emergency-listing-tricolo
Urban heat islands:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/20/urban-heat-island-effect-us-cities_n_5696009.html?

Warming hiatus:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/atlantic-ocean-slows-global-warming-but-scientists-believe-hiatus-will-end-around-2030-1.2743216?cmp=fbtl

White-tailed Ptarmigan’s future:
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/white-tailed_ptarmigan/map.html
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/white-tailed_ptarmigan/
World Health Organization on climate change, starvation and disease:
http://www.who.int/topics/climate/en/

GREAT GRAY OWL NEST RESEARCH IN CALIFORNIA

August 19, 2015

Here’s link to site about my book on the Pacific Slope Great Gray Owls.

The Institute for Bird Populations has just published a study of all known Great Gray Owl nest sites in Yosemite area of the Sierra Nevada. Here is the official citing for the article: Wu, J.X., R.B. Siegel, H.L. Loffland, M.W. Tingley, S.L. Stock, K.N. Roberts, J.J. Keane, J.R. Medley, R. Bridgman, and C. Stermer. 2015. Diversity of nest sites and nesting habitats used by Great Gray Owls in California. Journal of Wildlife Management 79:937-947.

It cost me $38 to see the whole thing so I will give you a summary.

As I found when writing my Great Gray Owl book this species is NOT a strictly montane bird, nor is it confined to conifer forests. It may now be most likely there because we humans have driven them out of valleys and more oak-dominated terrain like the Sacramento and Willamette River Valleys where they may have nested three centuries ago.

One-fifth of the nests in this study were found below 1000′ in elevation.

30% of nest trees were oaks, large oaks, within conifer stands.

The GGO prefers well-rotted trees beneath a fairly dense canopy. Message to land managers: don’t rip down all your old, rotting oaks or Doug-fir.

Many of the preferred nest snags lasted about five years after the first nesting use. Good naturally occuring nest trees are ephemeral

Slowly deteriorating trees like incense-cedar and sugar pines are not used for nesting.

This study included no man-made platforms which are frequently used by Oregon populations of GGOs, both in the Wallowa Mountains and southern Cascades.

This study covered 56 nest sites in the California Sierra confirmed between 1973 and 2014. The southernmost one is on the Tulare-Fresno County border. That’s the southernmost GGO nest in the known world.GGO PLUS OWLET2 (1280x960)This picture shows female with owlet in nest that was probably originally built by Ravens, not in a rotted out, broken tree trunk as most often found in Yosemite area. The pictured nest was used only once in the southern Cascades of Oregon. One of the two owlets survived fledging from this nest in a ponderosa.

GREAT GRAY OWL PRESENTATION

July 27, 2015

I will be giving a talk on Oregon’s Great Gray Owls in Ashland next month. Here’s the press release from the Ashland Library:

Harry Fuller “… will be discussing his book and tales of birding on Thursday, August 13 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ashland Branch Library, 410 Siskiyou Boulevard.GGO mother flying prey face 5184 IMG_7625

“Great Gray Owls are one of the most mysterious and sought-after bird residents of California, Oregon, and Washington. Even though it is the tallest owl in North America, and notoriously approachable by humans, the Great Gray is hard to find. Biologists surveying for other species may happen accidentally on the owl, but finding it intentionally isn’t easy due to its nocturnal habits, excellent camouflage, and silent flight. Despite high breeding concentrations in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon, Great Grays are of conservation concern to wildlife managers in Oregon due to declines in the overall population and loss of habitat.

“Fuller is author of Freeway Birding, San Francisco to Seattle, about birds found within 20 miles of interchanges. He has taught numerous classes at the Klamath Bird Observatory, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and North Mountain Nature Park in Ashland.

“This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library. For more information, please call contact the Ashland Branch Library at 541-774-6996 or visit jcls.org.”5.  GGO Mother mouse shadow2455  IMG_5414

The photo is this blog was taken by Andy Huber on his ranch near La Grande, Oregon. Huber has been helping a widowed female owl feed her four fledglings. He has been live-trapping small mammals and releasing them near the adult and young owls so they can re-catch their prey. They will not eat animals previously killed.

SURROGATE FATHER TO A FAMILY OF GREAT GRAY OWLETS

May 28, 2015

Rancher, conservationists and owl-lovers, Andy Huber and his wife are co-parenting a family of Great Gray Owls. The Hubers own a ranch near Le Grande in northeastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains. This spring a couple of GGOs began raising a family. One tragic morning the Hubers awoke to see Great Gray Owl feathers scattered on the ground…overnight a Great Horned Owl had killed and eaten the male GGO. That left a widowed GGO with a nestful to raise. The Hubers pitched in. Friends loaned them live traps with which to catch small mammals. The adult female quickly learned to grab the offered prey. Many weeks of maturing are ahead of the fledglings but the Hubers persist. Here is a selection of photos of the Huber owls:1.  Mother warm in sunshine 1936 IMG_5808

2.  Mother spread owl 2173 IMG_5622

3.   Mother on ground 2333 IMG_5588

4.  GGO Mother and mouse 1683 IMG_5463

5.  GGO Mother mouse shadow2455  IMG_5414

6.  Here comes mom with food 2294  IMG_5737

7.  Who's next 2216 IMG_5786

8.  Hold on, I almost fell off the limb 2430 IMG_5739

9.  I'll power nap while you eat it 2246 IMG_5744

10. You feed her, I'll fly 2259 IMG_5781

11.  I got it mom 2237 IMG_5685

12.  Mother feeding child 2361 IMG_5684

13.  I'm off to get another 2397 IMG_5688

14.  This is my family now 2342 IMG_5790

15. GGO Mother tree lichen 2195 IMG_5447
There is a quartet of owlets in this family and each can eat four small mammals per day, that’s a lot of huntin’ and trappin’ … for weeks. These youngster will not be effective hunters until very late summer at the earliest. Most abundant prey at that spot right now is kangaroo mice.

My new book on Great Gray Owls of California, Oregon and Washington is now available. Order yours direct from me, $28 plus shipping, over 100 photos and original range maps. More on earlier blog on this website.

ANOTHER PLATFORM REPORT

May 11, 2015

Another area of public land where there are nest platforms for Great Gray Owls is the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Klamath County, OR.  Faye Weekley, the biologist there, tells me one of her several platforms is in use this year and has a Great Gray Owl nestling.  As with the western slope of the Cascades and the Klamath Basin, Klamath Marsh seems to have an abundance of small mammals this spring.

Altogether that makes eight platforms in use across the state that I know of.

For information on the new book on Great Gray Owls of California, Oregon and Washington, click here.ggo cover2014 GGO 1GGO-3-1-B