Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Listing Birds

The Farallon Islands are uniquely situated for people interested in the act of finding and identifying birds, otherwise known as “birding”. The cluster of jagged rocks that make up the Farallones are located just far enough offshore to provide a stable platform for spotting rare pelagic species like the Cook’s petrel, and close enough to the mainland to catch vagrant song birds and other terrestrial species on migration or lost in the fog at sea. Over the course of 50 years of research out on the island, some biologists and staff have been keeping a detailed list of all of the different bird species they’ve encountered during their tenure on the Farallones, a record known as “The Faralist”. Not only is listing a form of friendly competition among peers, it serves as a valuable tool for documenting trends in the timing and frequency of birds seen from the island. This figure is a graphical interpretation of The Faralist, modified from R code for a similar graphic depicting the number of days spent on island by various people over the years. Collectively, a total of 429 different species have been seen from the Farallones; not bad for a small collection of guano-covered rocks with only 3 trees.

By island biologist Mike Johns