Times are uncertain… but please submit avian breeding activity

Santa Barbara Audubon Society, in accordance with direction from local, national and international public health authorities regarding slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), regretfully has had to take the following actions:

  • April & May field trips and Friday bird walks are canceled
  • March program is canceled
  • May program is currently still scheduled
  • As updates may occur at any time, check back here regularly

These actions have been taken with the health and well-being of our community, volunteers and board of directors as our top priority.

As we are now in breeding season...

We encourage our members to take notice of avian breeding activity in your yard and on your walks in nature. Please submit your breeding activity sightings to the Breeding Bird Study HERE. The Breeding Bird Study is still gathering records despite the shutdown of Google Fusion Tables. (The BBS team is working on a new way to display SB County Breeding Bird data.) Records are coming in but we are lagging behind last year for several species.

Stay well and good birding

2020 Great Backyard Bird Count has Bumper Year

by Jayne Wamsley, Education Co-Chair


The 23rd Great Backyard Bird Count ran from February 14-17th this year and set new records in all categories. Participants jumped by 43,893 with 249,444 checklists submitted. The species count was 6,942 worldwide with 661 species documented in the United States. The top 10 species for Canada and the US by rank were: Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, House Sparrow, House Finch, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee and Red-bellied Woodpecker. The Red-bellied Woodpecker pushed the White Breasted Nuthatch from 10th place this year. The Snow Goose count came in at 7,194,952, the most of any species. … Continue Reading

Ken Rosenberg lecture written up in Montecito Journal

Check out Joanne Calitri’s article on page 30 of the March 2020 issue of the Montecito Journal! It’s about Ken Rosenberg’s “Three Billion Birds Lost..” lecture, co-presented by the S.B. Museum of Natural History, UCSB Arts & Lectures Thematic Learning Initiative, and Santa Barbara Audubon Society! Thank you, Joanne and MJ! Here is a link to the issue of the Montecito Journal: https://issuu.com/santabarbarasentinel/docs/mj_12_26_full/1…

Once you have clicked on the link, click on the arrows at the right of the screen until you get to page 30.

Program, Field Trip, and Bird Walk Updates

Dear Audubon Members and Community,

In light of Governor Newsom’s March 11th announcement (excerpts cited below), Santa Barbara Audubon Society will postpone our March 25th program as well as cancel our March 14th field trip and March 20th Friday bird walk.

“Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California public health officials this evening issued an updated policy on gatherings to protect public health and slow the spread of COVID-19. The state’s public health experts have determined that gatherings should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March. Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people, while smaller events can proceed only if the organizers can implement social distancing of 6 feet per person.”


“The state’s updated policy defines a ‘gathering’ as any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space.”


Also it states: “This guidance applies to all non-essential professional, social and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor.”

The entire announcement, along with a link to the full policy, can be found HERE:

Please continue to monitor our website for any changes to bird walks and field trips scheduled in April and beyond. We still plan to hold our May evening program. If that changes we will post updates on our website.

This is not a decision that SBAS makes lightly, but we feel strongly that SBAS must do its part to keep our community healthy and safe.

Thank you for your understanding.

Katherine Emery, Ph.D.
Executive Director,
Santa Barbara Audubon Society
email hidden; JavaScript is required

Goleta Sanitary District – Limited Access – No birding for now

We received the following from the Goleta Sanitary District.

Good Afternoon All,

We have made the decision out of an abundance of caution to limit access to the District for the protection of our staff and community. Therefore, until the threat from the Covid19 virus is no longer an issue, we unfortunately will not be accepting any visits for birding at the facility. We have also cancelled any public tours. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Beginning March 16th we will also be keeping our entrance gate closed during the day. Once the threat of the virus has passed, visitors will need to be buzzed in via a security keypad. This is a step we have been contemplating for some time for security purposes.


We appreciate your understanding and look forward to the time when the District’s facility will be available to birders again.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at my email hidden; JavaScript is required.





Laura Romano DeFazio, MPPA

Management Analyst

We will make another post when the facility re-opens to the birding community.

El Tecolote Spring 2020

Santa Barbara Audubon’s Spring issue of El Tecolote is now available. In this issue read about:
  • Our results of the 120 Christmas Bird Count
  • The highlights of the 6th Annual Winter Bird Count for Kids
  • Executive Director highlights
  • Meet our student representative
  • Science and conservation news
  • Report on the Strauss Wind Project
  • West coast survey of the Brown Pelican
  • Upcoming Field Trips, Friday Bird Walks & Programs
To download the pdf file, click the thumbnail image to the right.

  El Tecolote Staff:
  • Joyce Carasa – Editor
  • Alex Loos – Layout

Finding a Silver Lining and a Call to Action – The 120th Christmas Bird Count

By Rebecca Coulter, Liz Muraoka, Joan Murdoch, & Libby Patten

Let’s just get this on the table: North American birds are in trouble. In late January, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg spoke at the Museum of Natural History about the Decline of the North American Avifauna, his recent article and its message of three billion birds lost since 1970, which fell upon the national birding scene like a ton of bricks. As a community of birders and conservationists, we—like Rosenberg—have been astonished at the extremes evident in the data.

… Continue Reading

Santa Barbara Audubon Society – Nest Box Program

By Steve Senesac – Science Chair

Brief History

In 2004, Jan Wasserman presented the Tree Swallow Nest Box Program that she was doing in Ventura.  This ignited the interest of some our members at that time, David Kissner, Dave Eldridge, and Don Schroeder.  Dave Eldridge was instrumental in building many of the boxes and Don Schroeder developed a scientific methodology for monitoring the boxes, as well as the basic training materials that we still use. In time, the reins passed on to Andy Lanes and Richard Figueroa, who involved students from UCSB and evolved our basic training program.  Elaine Tan, Peter Thompson, Betsy Moony, Jayne Wamsley, Diane and Leah Vasquez, and again, Don Schroeder have been the mainstay of the program these past several years, as well as a continued interest from UCSB.  Recently Conor McMahon has started a UCSB chapter of Audubon and is injecting new vigor into our UCSB connection, and the program overall.  David Kissner came back into the larger picture a couple of years ago, developing a parallel program at La Cumbre Country Club.  Lots of activity!

… Continue Reading


By Steve Ferry, Project Leader

The Strauss Wind Energy Project is a wind farm slated to be built on 3,000 acres of range land about four miles south of the city of Lompoc. The project will comprise 29 wind turbine generators (WTGs), most about 500 feet tall, near the end of San Miguelito Road. Strauss will be built by a German company called BayWa on the same site where a previous project, the Lompoc Wind Energy Project, was proposed about 12 years ago.

The Strauss site has an exceptional bird diversity, particularly raptors.  In fact, the site has one of the highest raptor concentrations in Santa Barbara County.  Red-tailed hawks are abundant and Golden eagles are seen nearly every day.  Other raptors seen regularly include White-tailed Kites, Northern Harriers, Cooper’s Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, American Kestrels, and Ferruginous Hawks.  Strauss presents a significant risk of harm to these raptors – 60% of raptors observed in surveys were within the rotor-swept zone of the WTGs.

… Continue Reading

“3 Billion Birds Lost” Lecture: From “What If?” to Full House!

By Janice Levasheff, Membership Chair

We feel fortunate that we were able to bring Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg here, from Lori Gaskin’s “what if” idea, to Katherine Emery’s reaching out to a fellow Cornell alum with the enticement of a January visit to sunny Santa Barbara, to UCSB Arts & Lectures arranging his trip and talk as part of their Thematic Learning Initiative, and to the S.B. Museum of Natural History graciously providing their recently renovated Fleischmann Auditorium as the venue for his talk. This was truly the happy result of a successful collaboration among our three organizations!

… Continue Reading

Projects & Goals Update

Our Executive Director, Katherine Emery, had provided updates to our projects and goals page. You can view it at by clicking HERE. You can also access it via the News menu above and selecting the ‘Current Projects & Goals’ item.

Field Trip: Ventura Duck Ponds / Wetlands

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

These wetlands are adjacent to Point Mugu NAS and close to the ocean in Oxnard. We will bird this area on foot. It will be approximately a 3 mile walk and we must remain as a group. A special thanks to Peggy Kearns and Jeff Hanson for making the necessary arrangements for this trip.

… Continue Reading