Taking the Long View: An inside look at the goings-on at the longest running avian ecology field station west of the Mississippi.

The Lookers Go Green!

Recently, Palo’s Rich Stallcup Bird-A-Thon team took Bolinas by storm when we trekked 14.5 miles on foot and in style for our first-ever carbon free Bird-A-Thon! Our team, The Lookers, continued our annual tradition of wearing our finest threads while counting birds and raising funds for Point Blue and Palo. This year’s Lookers were made up of current Palo Interns, Point Blue staff who work at Palo, a Point Blue Research Associate, and our President and CEO (see our group shot below for names and faces!).

The day began at O-dark-thirty on a foggy morning at Palo, where team members gathered before heading up the Arroyo Hondo Road where we listened for owls (yes, we did hear 3 species!). As some of us polished off our morning coffee, and light emerged, we began to hear the sweet calls of both Hermit and Swainson’s thrushes – we tallied 20 species in that first hour…a great start to the day!


We continued our day with much excitement, adding Western Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and had the luck of a swiftly-flying Merlin gracing our bird list! All the while, we repeated our team motto: “Bird hard, stay focused, and look good.” While we walked along the Mesa, and many side-roads, we had the luck of a few refueling stops at some of the Lookers’ homes (Steve’s & Diana’s), and at other Point Blue staff & friends of the Lookers (Catherine and Ethan’s) place – but it wasn’t all coffee and crumpets – we managed to add new species at each house, including Northern Mockingbird, Eared Grebe, and all of the California cormorants. Our mission continued: we were headed to Pine Gulch via the sewage ponds.

Refueled at Agate Beach by coffee and crumpets (thanks Ethan and Catherine!), we were feeling recharged and ready for more species! Photo by Catherine Hickey.

As the fog lifted, and the sun warmed the day, our pace slowed but our mission did not waver. We stayed focused (staying true to our motto!) and picked up many new species along the way after arriving at Pine Gulch, including a brilliant Cassin’s Vireo, and the ever-impressive Long-billed Curlew. As we left Pine Gulch and headed to the beach, much to our surprise as we scanned the blackbirds for Tricolored and Brown-headed Cowbird (check, check), a yellow-breasted
bird perched on a fence caught our eye: Tropical Kingbird, hooray!

Wyatt, Megan, and Steve take a short break for chocolate and "paddling." Photo by Ryan DiGaudio.

As the day wound down and we began to daydream about dinner and sitting down, we were treated to great looks at  a Chipping Sparrow and a curious-looking MacGillivray’s Warbler (after much debate on its identification). We swung by Keith Hansen’s Art Gallery, the beach, Smiley’s (just in case there were any new bird species hanging around in there), and headed up Terrace to Nat’s (Point Blue & Palo staff) for dinner and relaxation. Thirteen hours, 14.5 miles, 11 Lookers, and 126 species later, we could all agree that our first green Bird-A-Thon was a successful one. Thanks to everyone who has already sponsored our team, and if you haven’t yet, don’t fret, there is still time: just go to Thanks for your support!

Steve and I check the surf and try to drum up a new species at Bolinas Beach.


Wyatt and Bobby stayed focused to the end! Photo by Ryan DiGaudio.

The Lookers 2014 walking route for the Rich Stallcup Bird-A-Thon.