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PRBO News and Highlights


Long-billed Curlew in flight. Photo © Peter Latourrete / www.birdphotography.com

The Long-billed Curlew in agricultural habitats was the focus of a September 2007 survey, involving some 100 citizen scientists, throughout California's interior valleys. The region is one of the world's most important for this large shorebird during migration and winter. PRBO, Audubon California, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County coordinated the survey, finding an estimated 25,000 curlews and documenting where they concentrate.

In a landmark for habitat restoration in the Central Valley, PRBO's Ryan DiGaudio found a pair of Yellow Warblers nesting on private land within a restoration project near the San Joaquin River. A California species of special concern, the Yellow Warbler, which typically nests in streamside habitat, was once abundant in the Great Central Valley but has nearly vanished due to habitat loss.

A PRBO Biologist monitors birds at a restoration site in the San Joaquin Valley, part of successful riparian (riverside) habitat restoration on both public and private lands. PRBO photo by Geoff Geupel.

A long-range recovery plan for the Western Snowy Plover was released by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September 2007. Its target is a population large and stable enough to warrant delisting by 2047. In early 2006, supported by scientific evidence from PRBO, the agency had rejected petitions to end this small shorebird's designation as a threatened species.

Southeast Farallon Island seabirds in their breeding colonies were featured in National Public Radio's "Climate Connections" series. In his story (at www.npr.org search for ‘Cassin's Auklet'), reporter John Nielson discussed the auklet's phenomenal 2005 breeding failure, linked to ocean-climate change. With approval from USFWS Refuge managers, a National Geographic TV reporter also visited the island during peak seabird breeding season in May.

A pioneering study of extreme long-distance migratory shorebirds obtained stunning results. Bar-tailed Godwits tagged in February in New Zealand revealed their complex flight paths to western Alaska where they breed. One bird's transmitter kept signaling as she flew non-stop some 7,000 miles back to New Zealand wintering grounds. See Observer 148, spring 2007, and also the latest Google Earth map linked to our home page—www.prbo.org.

A potential marine protected area (MPA) in Central California, around the Farallon Islands, has prompted PRBO staff to share our findings about Farallon life with scientists and stakeholders. In a current review and evaluation process, California Department of Fish and Game is considering MPAs for the Central Coast Region. The region includes the Farallones, home to over 300,000 birds, four species of marine mammal, and in fall the white shark. Our MPA information is at www.prbo.org/sefimap. Participate in the process! See www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/northcentralcoast.asp.

Celebrating 40 years of PRBO science and stewardship on the Farallones in cooperation with the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, PRBO Board members Christopher Bently and Amber Marie Bently hosted the "Farallon Island Blue Ball" (many thanks!). Held in San Francisco on September 27th, the event raised over $110,000 and made many new friends for PRBO and the Farallones.

Achievements in building partnerships among private landowners, agencies, and conservationists—the work of outgoing Eastern Sierra coordinator Sacha Heath—is featured in the summer 2007 Mono Lake Newsletter.

Education for K–12 students this year features an expanded Bird Club, PRBO's highly popular after-school program at Pickleweed Park Community Center in San Rafael, California (see page 12). In an August workshop with The Bay Institute, PRBO taught 35 teachers in the STRAW program (Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed) about bird identification and data collection to help monitor restoration.