Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

Birding with a “Fledgling’s Mind”

Written by Lishka Arata, Senior Communications Coordinator

As a way to invite new birders into the conservation fold at Point Blue, we offered a beginning birder, family-friendly, in-person walk this year at the Laguna de Santa Rosa Preserve in Sebastopol, CA. It was on Saturday, September 25th from 9:30 to 11:30 am. With 14 satisfied guests, we’re encouraged to keep offering opportunities like this for Bird-A-Thon and beyond.

Point Blue Senior Development Assistant Kait Schroeder’s husband Abraham and their daughter Elodie spotting birds along the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Credit: Stacey Atchley-Manzer.

The morning started off with a slight snafu and a bit of confusion, but teamwork and community spirit prevailed. As the walk leader, I mistakenly gave my fledgling sign-ups the wrong address for our starting spot! Total fledgling move. Luckily it was right down the street and Rona Weintraub–a seasoned birder and Point Blue supporter, but fledgling to the birding location–helped by driving back and forth, letting folks know where the real starting point was. Phew!

Once we all got settled, we had a lovely introduction to our birding location from Anne Morkill, Executive Director of the Laguna Foundation. This was an extra special treat because we at Point Blue loved partnering with Anne in her role as the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex Manager with our marsh and Farallones work and this day helped spark some excitement for new potential collaborations with conservation of the Laguna habitats.

2021 Fledglings with Walk leader Lishka Arata in the front of the group and special guest and Laguna Foundation Executive Director Ann Morkill at the far end. Credit: Stacey Atchley-Manzer/Point Blue.

We had a lovely flock of fledglings that included staff members and their families with budding young naturalists, longtime supporters of our work, and people brand new to Point Blue. We detected 25 bird species (see list below) and one exciting mammal sighting–a fox with something in its mouth (so maybe 2 mammals?)–in about two hours of birding. Some highlights included a Great Blue Heron foraging along the water’s edge, a scope view of a Red-Shouldered Hawk on a wire, and close and clear view of a flock of bushtits in a… bush.

Gorgeous view from a bridge over the Laguna. Credit: Stacey Atchley-Manzer/Point Blue.

Welcoming those who are new to observing the natural world with care and kindness is part of the legacy that Rich Stallcup left and part of our culture that we are dedicated to upholding. We can always learn something new if we keep cultivating a “fledgling’s mind” and we will always benefit from fresh perspectives. Thank you to all who joined and supported the Fledglings this year. There’s still time to donate! Just visit and look for our team, the Fledglings First Year Birders.

The three youngest fledglings naturalizing together. Credit: Stacey Atchley-Manzer/Point Blue.

Bird List:

  1. Red-winged Blackbird
  2. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  3. Oak Titmouse
  4. Bushtit
  5. White-breasted Nuthatch
  6. Lesser Goldfinch
  7. House Finch
  8. Black Phoebe
  9. Pied-billed Grebe
  10. Turkey Vulture
  11. Red-shouldered Hawk
  12. Anna’s Hummingbird
  13. California Scrub-Jay
  14. American Crow
  15. Belted Kingfisher
  16. Northern Mockingbird
  17. Song Sparrow
  18. White-crowned Sparrow
  19. Spotted Towhee
  20. Golden-crowned Sparrow
  21. California Quail
  22. Great Egret
  23. Great Blue Heron
  24. European Starlings
  25. Acorn Woodpecker