February 27, 2018

ACR avian ecologist David Lumpkin, who works from our Cypress Grove Research Center on Tomales Bay, had what birders will agree is a personal best: he spotted a banded hermit thrush hanging around the bridge over Livermore Marsh and managed to photograph the band numbers with enough clarity to track the bird back to its banding date and location. Turns out this little thrush had arrived all the way from Victoria, B.C., having been banded in September 2017.

This effort did not go unrecognized by the North American Bird Banding Program, who sent David a certificate of appreciation and gave us all the following information to pass along:

Bird banding is important for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. About 60 million birds representing...

November 06, 2017

Just like thousands of others in the North Bay, we at Audubon Canyon Ranch are picking up the pieces after the recent fires. We are heartbroken to learn of friends who have lost loved ones, and for whole neighborhoods destroyed. Two of our staff members lost their homes when ACR’s 535-acre Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen burned during the Nuns fire. Our near-term goal is to support our community as they figure out the way forward. We also have a long-term goal: to learn from the resiliency of nature, and to use that knowledge to prepare our community to better weather the next firestorm.

For ecologists, resilience is how a system responds to a major disturbance. What species traits give rise to a system that can recover from or resist a major perturbation? ACR’s ecologists and...

October 30, 2017

Thank you all. Everyone has been so supportive of our wildlife - our community. Thank you!

This is a very hard time for all of us, and it is no different for the mountain lions or other critters. The ACR Mountain Lion Project has 3 lions that have been monitored using GPS satellite collars in the Bennet Valley area. A preliminary observation suggests about 50% of optimal lion habitat across our study area has been burned. In the long-term this will be good with rejuvenation inviting opportunities, but for now it is likely hard for them. I wouldn't say they have been displaced so much as re-routed. I have observed movement of our GPS collared cats cruising through burned areas, as well as avoiding them. Because lion ranges are so extensive (up to 300 square miles for males), they...

October 04, 2017

It’s been one year since ACR fitted our first Sonoma County mountain lion (P1) with a GPS collar. Late last month, we recaptured her to replace the collar's battery and check on her overall health.

P1, our 10- to 11-year-old grande dame, has already provided us with reams of data as well as a window into the lives of these compelling cats. A stealthy supermom, she is also wowing us with her parenting skills. When we first began tracking her, P1 was traveling with two nearly grown offspring. We collared the female (P2) of the sibling duo in November 2016.

Off to new territories
Then, in late December, P1 sent both of her young adults packing right on schedule. Young mountain lions typically disperse from their mother at 12 to...

August 16, 2017
Map above shows GPS location points gathered from a female Great Egret from 8/14/17 through 8/17/17.

Since outfitted with GPS tracking devices in mid June, the three Great Egrets (one male and two females) tagged near Toms Point on Tomales Bay have remained in northern Marin and southern Sonoma counties. But on the evening of August 14, at around 7:20 p.m., a female identified as GREG 3 lifted off from Chileno Valley and started flying east. She stopped for about a half hour in some cypress trees southeast of Petaluma, then, just as darkness fell, she took flight again. She flew east through pre-moon darkness,...

July 31, 2017

This past weekend, ACR Mountain Lion Project lead Dr. Quinton Martins noticed GPS cluster points in the Glen Ellen - Sonoma area that indicated a potential feeding site for one of our research subjects, P1, a female adult lion who had a litter of three kittens in April. Excited to know how the kittens were doing, Quinton raced out to set up a camera to document mom and kittens on the kill. On arrival, he found an adult buck neatly cached in a thicket of manzanita, poison oak and blackberry bushes. Footage retrieved the following day revealed that two of the three kittens had survived to the 4-month mark. In this video, one of the kittens...

June 19, 2017

After months of planning and preparation, ACR’s Heron and Egret Telemetry Project has literally taken flight! ACR Avian Ecologists Scott Jennings and David Lumpkin and Director of Conservation Science Dr. John Kelly spent an exciting eight days with collaborators Drs. John Brzorad and Alan Maccarone, who travelled from North Carolina and Kansas, respectively, to train us in capturing Great Egrets and outfitting them with tiny GPS transmitters. So far, we’ve tagged three Great Egrets, all at ACR’s Toms Point in northern Tomales Bay.

June 16, 2017

WildCare, a Bay Area leader in wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education, has recognized ACR Director of Education Gwen Heistand as an environmental educator of the highest caliber.

Named for nationally renowned naturalist and educator, Elizabeth Terwilliger (known affectionately as Mrs. T), the award annually honors an educator who 

  • Is actively involved in teaching the public to appreciate and protect the natural environment 
  • Has made a significant difference and a real impact on the Bay Area 
  • Inspires children and adults to love nature by making the study of nature interesting, fun...
June 16, 2017

Jeanne Wirka for THE PRESS DEMOCRAT 

It’s Spring Madness out there as Sonoma County’s songbirds swoop into the full-court press of their breeding season. Bird song and other breeding behavior is as astonishingly complex as it is beautiful to behold. Fortunately, one need not be an ornithologist or even an amateur birder to appreciate this annual avian spectacle. Becoming familiar with just a few of our local feathered friends makes any outdoor adventure that much more meaningful and even mind-blowing. 

Two birds that are easy to recognize, fun to watch, and fairly ubiquitous in our local parks and open space areas right now are western bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) and tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor...

June 15, 2017

On May 30 Audubon Canyon Ranch accomplished its first major controlled burn event of its Fire Ecology Program when roughly 17.5 acres of grassland and oak savannah on the Bouverie Preserve in the Sonoma Valley were targeted. The event served to further ACR's goals of addressing hazardous fuel loads and declining ecosystem health through the coordination of cooperative, ecologically planned, scientifically monitored, and safely implemented controlled burns. The burns could not have gone better!

A cooperative event