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March eNews header. Hummingbird photo by Elizabeth Budd

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table of contents

spacer   bird print bullet 
points follow that peregrine
    bird print bullet 
points the north american model of wildlife conservation
    bird print bullet 
points 21st century conservation ethic
    bird print bullet 
points spring migration
    bird 
print bullet 
points great gift ideas for march
Peregrine fans gathered for the release. Photo by Glenn Nevill spacer
A falcon found on the sidewalk in Oakland, rescued and rehabilitated by WildCare, is about to be released. Here WildCare’s Nat Smith (left, foreground) explains the procedure to more than 20 people who showed up to see the release. spacer
 Showing how the transmitter is attached. Photo by Glenn Nevill spacer
Glenn Stewart drove up from Santa Cruz to place a transmitter on the peregrine’s leg. He shows how, for a release like this, the leather band is cut through and sewn back together with just thread. This way the transmitter will fall off after a week or two, leaving the bird unencumbered.  
The transmitter is put on the hooded falcon. Photo Glenn Nevill spacer
A falconer’s hood helps calm the bird. Peregrines kill their prey by striking them in the air with their feet. Notice how thick and robust the tarsus is to allow for such hunting technique. spacer
The falcon is released! Photo by Glenn Nevill spacer
With transmitter in place and the hood removed, the falcon is quickly airborne.But not airborne for long. spacer
The bird flew immediately to a nearby tree. Photo by Glenn Nevill  
The falcon flew a short 50 yards or so to a nearby tree to get her bearings.  
Peregrine just post-release. Photo by Glenn Nevill  
The appearance of a falcon brought in complaining neighborhood crows, so the falcon walked down the branch and then exercused the better part of valor and took off towards the Kaiser Buildings along the lakeside.  
The receiver. Photo by Glenn Nevill  
The antenna is directional, by turning the unit, the signal will strengthen and weaken, to show where the falcon is located. Simple and effective. Maximum range varies from 15 to 35 miles depending on the type of transmitter on the falcon.  
Plane used for spotting. Photo by Glenn Stewart  
Glenn Stewart flew over the Bay Area for over two hours trying to catch a signal afrom the transmitter. Photo by Glenn Stewart  
Peregrine on building. Photo by Sue Corbaley  
Patient #0063 is safely back atop her chosen building in Oakland. Photo by Sue Corbaley  

follow that peregrine

People in downtown Oakland watched in horror as a Peregrine Falcon crashed to the pavement clutching a Rock Dove (pigeon) in her talons. Peregrines hunting Rock Doves is a normal occurrence in cities. The raptors, now protected from persecution from people, are making a come-back in cities all over the nation. They take advantage of the tall buildings and a rich food source. These birds are even developing fan clubs and followers. Luckily for this peregrine, that was the case here!

The juvenile bird was on the ground holding onto a pigeon with one foot, and did not fly away even when a pigeon fan, hoping to save the pigeon, started throwing things at her. Glenn Stewart of the Predatory Bird Research Group of Santa Cruz remarked, “With the benefit of hindsight and knowing that the bird remained a little loopy for several days, I believe the falcon grabbed the pigeon just before hitting a building and falling to the ground. Falcons (and other raptors) enjoy a ratchet-like mechanism that makes it possible for their foot muscles to lock the toes in a firm grip on prey while exerting little effort. I think that is why the injured falcon still had prey in its grip when it was found, puzzling its finders about its condition.”

the oakland fan club

Luck had a lot to do with this bird’s success story. First of all, a number of peregrine fans happened to be at the spot to witness the accident. When the stunned bird seemed unable to fly away, they quickly set up barriers around the bird to prevent people from stepping on or interfering with her. Secondly, a friend of WildCare volunteer Nat Smith was at the scene. Knowing that Nat worked only a few blocks away, he called Nat to help. Nat was able to come right over and capture the bird safely to transport her to WildCare. We are also very glad to report that, as Nat tried to take the bird away, several people spoke up on behalf of the peregrine, wanting to be sure Nat was taking the bird to a legitimate wildlife hospital and not hoping to make a pet of it.

At WildCare, examination revealed no fractures or obvious injuries, but patient #0063 was reluctant to fly for over a week. Anyone who has suffered a fall knows that bruising can effectively restrict any desire to move, so cage rest would hopefully treat soft tissue trauma and any concussion that may have cause the described “loopy” behavior. She ate voraciously, however, and we began to worry that she would soon become too fat to fly.

Anne Ardillo, a WildCare volunteer who also volunteers with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory placed a federal band on the bird’s right leg on January 30. Anne took wing measurements, and based on the wing length and the bird’s weight, confirmed she was a young (first-year) female. 

On February 7, the peregrine was transferred to our 150-foot flight aviary. Cindy, our staff member who manages the aviary, reported that the bird could fly the length but flew low and tired easily. As part of the peregrine’s treatment Cindy raised the perches in increments and also performed daily “chase therapy,” making the bird fly laps to build endurance (for both of them!)

By February11, the bird had improved dramatically! She was flying with strength and grace, and without encouragement. Time to go! The release was scheduled for the following Sunday, February 13.

a rare opportunity

Because transmitters and tracking devices require significant manpower, funding and special licenses, WildCare is rarely able to get information on what happens to animals after we release them. This time, just as the bird was ready to go, we got a generous offer from Glenn Stewart of the Predatory Bird Research Group of U.C. Santa Cruz. He offered to donate a transmitter and the manpower and receiver needed to track the bird. This small, lightweight transmitter was placed on the bird’s ankle just before release. It is temporary and will fall off within to two weeks.

WildCare patient #0063 was released at Lakeside Park in Oakland on February 13. As of February 21 we didn’t know if the bird had remained in the area. Attempts to locate her had been unsuccessful, but the weather was rainy and cold, and radio telemetry depends on a line-of-sight transmission to receive a good signal. When a bird avoids the wind and rain by perching in cover, the antenna is often obscured, and transmission distance reduced. Straight line-of-sight transmission can be up to ten or fifteen miles. However a signal transmitted from as close as half a mile away but over a hill might not be received at all.

Glenn Stewart reported, “In the past ten days I have driven the I-880 corridor from Fremont to the Carquinez Bridge including crisscrossing Oakland and Berkeley three times. I went out I-680 today listening for a beep all the way. I flew at 12,000 feet for two and a quarter hours from Rio Vista to San Jose to the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge, then across to San Francisco and down the peninsula to San Jose. From there, we flew inland almost to Stockton, and then back to the airstrip at Rio Vista. It is always possible that the transmitter failed, but I have had good luck using dozens of these 8-gram units that generally transmit for 6-8 weeks. I think it is reasonable to assume that this bird rode one of the storms of the past week right out of the Bay Area. Peregrine means 'wanderer' after all. Let’s hope this one wanders for a good long time."

spotted!

The same day, Sue Corbaley, Project Manager with the California Coastal Conservancy, and one of the “Oakland peregrine fan club” reported, “I have kept an eye out for her from my perch here in downtown Oakland – I can see west, north and east from my 13th floor office. I believe I saw the rescue bird just now on the east side of the building at 1400 Broadway in downtown Oakland – at my eye level approximately 50 yards from my window.”

While cameras and binoculars were trained on this bird, much discussion  about her identity ensued. No transmitter could be seen to confirm it, but a federal band was clearly visible on her right leg. Glenn Stewart offered a little more information about the transmitter, “She may have picked it off by now, so if you can see a band but no transmitter it is still most likely our bird. I should have picked up a signal from the plane if it was on her or not. If she picked it off (it was designed to come off) and it fell in Lake Merritt or was run over by a truck we would not get a signal. As an electrical device, it is also possible that it remains on her but just plain failed – rare, but it happens."

By March 1, all the watchers agreed that this was patient #0063, released on February 21. She had returned to her territory and was working the area for pigeons as before. The Fan Club has taken to calling her Baubette (for a distinctive head motion). Patient #0063 now has her own following.

about banding and tracking

All wildlife is considered property of the State of California, and WildCare is licensed to hold sick and injured animals while they are being treated and conditioned for release. Other licenses allow us to keep certain animals for educational purposes. WildCare is neither licensed to band birds nor to affix transmitters for tracking. Luckily, we work with organizations that hold the proper permits and we gratefully acknowledge their help.

Banding was done by Anne Ardillo, Golden Gate Raptor Observatory.
Tracking was monitored by Glenn R. Stewart, Director, Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, Long Marine Laboratory, University of California Santa Cruz.

If you find a live banded bird, don’t attempt to read the band; take the bird to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center. If you find a dead banded bird, please call the number on the band.

 
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  Black-tail buck in grass
  European colonists in North America discovered that wild animals were not the sole property of a king. Abuse of this new discovery nearly wiped out many species before laws could be enacted to protect wildlife for future generations. Photo by Trish Carney
  River Otters. Photo by Trish Carney
  River Otters, raccoons and other furbearers were trapped for furs. Within one hundred years strict regulations had to be put in place to protect these species. Photo by Trish Carney
  Pouncing bobcat. Photo by Trish Carney
  Native Americans honored predators like the bobcat above and the coyote below for their courage and cunning; European attitudes toward them differed. Photo by Trish Carney
  Wary coyote. Photo by Trish Carney
  Two hundred years of persecution has only made coyotes smarter. A 21st Century ethic must evolve. Photo by Trish Carney
  Egrets. Photo by Richard Silva
  Birds like these Snowy Egrets were once killed for their feathers, used to decorate ladies' hats. Photo by Richard Silva
   
   

the north american model of wildlife conservation

Over the last 150 years the United States and Canada have developed a unique relationship to wildlife conservation that is still evolving. Those of us who live in North America probably don’t know our relationship to wildlife is any different from other places in the world because, as the saying goes, “it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.” We are too close to see it. For our current model of conservation, we actually have much for which we can thank the Native Americans.

Many early principles of wildlife management evolved in North America as a direct result of colonists’ anger over how wildlife resources in England and Europe had been controlled. In many countries royal warrants kept wild lands and wildlife inaccessible; hunting on royal lands could be punishable by death. Immigrants to North America reveled in the freedom to hunt and exploit the bountiful wildlife to be found on the new continent. However, the native peoples they met here viewed their own relationship with wildlife and the earth differently than the European immigrants. The native peoples saw themselves as a part of nature, not separate from, or above it. They did not see nature as a thing to be exploited or “tamed.”

The Europeans considered their cultures superior, and aggressively attempted to replace the natives’ more animistic religions with their own Christianity. But as time went on, the abundance of the wildlife resources in this new world began to wane. Hard lessons proved that resources aren't unlimited, and we are now beginning to look back at the relationship the original North Americans had to wildlife.

wildlife in north america

The “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation” wasn’t written all at once like the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution. Yet, for wildlife, it carries equal weight, and has been praised as a model for wildlife conservation around the world.

Rather than endorse elite control of wildlife as private property, the principles in this outline ensure that wildlife remains available to everyone, conserved for future generations. Only recently have wildlife conservationists come to define the seven principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

the seven principles

1. Wildlife is a resource held in the public trust. In the U.S., the common-law basis for this principle is the Public Trust Doctrine, an 1841 Supreme Court Decision declaring that wildlife, fish and other natural resources cannot be privately owned. Possession of wild animals in California, even for wildlife rehabilitation, is strictly regulated.

2. Eliminate markets for game. Unregulated exploitation of game animals and migratory birds led to laws that restrict the sale of meat and parts. Commercial trapping of fur bearers is still strictly regulated, but trade persists in certain species of amphibians and reptiles due to lack of oversight.

3. Allocation of wildlife by law. Government laws and regulations, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, establish the framework under which decisions can be made about hunting, depredation permits and other considerations of public use or impact on wildlife.

4. Kill only for legitimate purposes. The U.S. Congress passed a bill against “useless” slaughter of bison in 1874. Today 13 states and provinces have “wanton waste” laws that prevent frivolous killing of wildlife.

5. Wildlife is an international resource. Many wildlife species migrate across borders, so the management policies of one nation affect wildlife in other countries. The Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) of 1973 are two of the greatest milestones in the history of wildlife conservation.

6. Science-based wildlife policy. The management of diverse species in multiple complex circumstances, often with inadequate funding and conflicting political influences, makes it imperative that decisions be based on science, and not political agendas or religious beliefs.

7. Democracy of hunting. In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt, himself an avid hunter, believed society would benefit if all people – not just the wealthiest landowners – had access to hunting opportunities.

Now, just over one hundred years later, more people live in cities and suburbs than on the rest of the planet, and while about 1% still hunt, the greatest historical impact of President Roosevelt’s legacy as a conservationist may be the preservation of public access to natural resources.

historical perspective

In history, the native peoples of North America lived close to nature, and understood their dependence upon it. For the last one hundred years, responsible hunters have been the driving force that has helped us conserve this North American abundance, because they, too, understood that if you wish to harvest, you must protect. Looking to the future, we can see that our increasingly urban lives are taking us further and further from this essential connection to the world that must ultimately sustain us.

Perhaps it's time we look back to the native spirit that sees us all as parts of the greater whole.

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Egret and jogger. Photo by Trish Carney spacer
Building on President Roosevelts protections, President Obama  has launched America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Photo by Trish Carney spacer
Bobcat on trail. Photo by John Wall spacer
Bobcat in a jogger’s path. Photo by John Wall spacer

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a 21st century conservation ethic

In an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 2, Jennifer Fearing, California Director for the Humane Society of the United States, questioned the logic of the California Department of Fish and Game's plan to increase the quota for bear hunting, while publicizing the return to the wild of four orphaned black bears. The orphaned cubs had been rehabilitated by a nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation organization, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. Not publicized, however, was the fact that more than one of these orphaned cubs' mothers had been shot. Jennifer observes in the article that "the department acknowledges that it must conserve wildlife within a broad responsibility of governing and that the first aim of governing is to serve the citizens of this state." Such contradictory policies definitely undermine this mandate.

On February 14, 2011 President Obama announced the release of America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations, the Administration’s action plan for the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. The Initiative was launched last April by President Obama to develop a 21st-century conservation and recreation agenda. Instead of dictating policies, this initiative turns to communities for local, grassroots conservation initiatives. Instead of growing bureaucracy, it calls for reworking inefficient policies and making the Federal Government a better partner with states, tribes and local communities.

The Initiative is a significant effort to address Americans’ growing disconnection with the outdoors and, in part, the mounting pressures lands and natural resources face. The initiative is fueled by a three-pronged vision that seeks to (1) connect Americans to the outdoors, (2) conserve and restore the outdoors, and (3) evolve a collaborative approach in the process.

The plan also calls for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the establishment of a Conservation Service Corps to engage youth in water restoration and public lands.

View this video to listen to President Obama’s comments on the initiative. Visit the America’s Great Outdoors website to read the full report and share your own comments.

 

 
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spacer Sparrow. Photo by Linda Campbell
  White-crowned Sparrows are common migrants through the Bay Area. Photo by Linda Campbell
 

Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo by Tom Grey

  Yellow-rumped Warblers and Orange-crowned Warblers are two passerine species best seen in the Bay Area during spring migration. Photo by Tom Grey
 

Swainson's Hawk. Photo by Tom Grey

  Swainson's Hawks can have incredibly long migrations. Birdwatchers are thrilled when they pass through the Bay Area. Photo by Tom Grey
  Cormorant and Gull. Photo by Laura Milholland
  Although many are year-round residents, several gull species migrate. They'll try to take advantage of an easy meal to fuel up for the next leg of the trip. Photo by Laura MIlhollan

spring migration

Wildlife watchers are keenly aware of birds' fall migration, but if birds go somewhere in the fall, they must return in the spring. The spring migration gets less notice because the return of the birds is often rivaled by the bursting forth of the colorful flowers and
warm breezes of the new season. Also, spring migrants often arrive at night using magnetic cues and navigating by the stars.

Fall migration can be a leisurely affair — birds will stop to feed wherever they find food — but spring brings an urgency.

The breeding season sets its own pace for each species, with rewards for optimal time of arrival.  For most bird species, the keenest males beat it back to secure the best territories and nest sites. They may even lock right in on the site they used last year. Like fans at a rock concert, they stake out a perimeter and defend the area, singing out their territory and calling in the girls.

Ladies that arrive early may get the best pick of males and nesting places. Like any good realtor will tell you, the three most important aspects of a good site are location, location, location. Once the male has secured a territory and a partner, breeding begins.

traveling

There are dozens of species that pass through areas only in spring or fall on their way to breeding grounds. These migrations are often the only opportunities for us to see these birds. While traveling, birds are less selective as to habitat than they are during winter or summer when they've settled in a location. They’re just passing through, tired from flying the previous night. Many species of warbler and flycatcher stop in backyards during migration, but are found only in swamps or woods during breeding. Migration time may be your only chance for spotting some species.

north coast birding

The name Marin County comes from mar, the Spanish word for sea, because more than three-fourths of the county's boundary is coastline. Estuaries, lagoons and inlets make it one of prime places to see bird life. In February, Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets begin to arrive at the Bolinas Lagoon in Stinson Beach, and by opening day at Audubon Canyon Ranch, nesting is in full swing there.

Those of us lucky enough to live near the coast can take advantage of spring migration to see waterbirds and shorebirds.
Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival is centered in Arcada, California, and is held at the peak of spring migration. The festival offers opportunities to see shorebirds as well as many other species, including Marbled Murrelets, Spotted Owls and Snowy Plovers.

Take advantage of the warming weather of spring and get outside to see some 

 
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great gift ideas for march

Goodbyn-- the perfect lunchbox

WildCare Logo

Gift Memberships

Kali the Red-tailed Hawk

The Perfect (and Eco-friendly) Lunchbox

Just in time for the new school year, choose a fun, eco-friendly and personalizable Goodbyn lunchbox!

WildCare logo-wear also makes a great gift! Choose from a cool selection of caps, tees and sweatshirts on our Shop page, or visit WildCare and choose from an even larger selection!

The Gift of Wildlife

When you give a WildCare gift membership, your gift recipients will receive all the benefits of WildCare membership as well as the knowledge that, as WildCare members, they help create a healthy and sustainable habitat for humans and animals alike.
What a perfect gift!

Adopt a Red-tailed Hawk

Or choose another extraordinary wild animal to adopt for that someone special! Your gift recipient will receive an art-quality photo of your chosen animal, a personalized certificate of adoption and a page of informative natural history.

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