The Science Committee strives to increase knowledge of local wildlife and ecosystems through data collection, compilation, and analysis. The Science Committee directs Santa Barbara Audubon’s Tree Swallow nest box monitoring. The Committee promotes Citizen Science in our community and schools.

The Conservation and Science Committees meet jointly on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 PM in the MacVeagh House of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

For further information contact [email protected]

Post-drought Progress Report

Submitted by Mark Holmgren

This is an update on the post-drought progress towards recovery of White-tailed Kites in the Goleta Valley. We are approaching the middle of the Kite breeding period. Recall that last year we had only two breeding events—at western More Mesa and western Ellwood Mesa. In 2015, we also had only two. They successfully bred somewhere in western Goleta Slough and at western More Mesa, with nest starts, but no completions, at Winchester Cyn and San Antonio Creek trail. … Continue Reading

Breeding Bird Study of Santa Barbara County

by Adrian O’Loghlen

[This is the full text article previewed in El Tecolote Vol. 55 No. 1 Sept. – Nov. 2016]

One of the most informative approaches for assessing how the rapid and extensive development of urban and rural lands affects local bird populations is to monitor the breeding activity of species that have historically bred in an area. Furthermore, collecting this type of information is important more generally because it is widely accepted that birds can be indicators and provide insights into the ‘health’ of habitats and ecosystems used by all local wildlife. … Continue Reading

Youth scholarships available from WFO

Western Field Ornithologists is pleased to announce the availability of a youth scholarship for the WFO 2016 Conference to be held in Humboldt County, California from September 28th through October 2nd. The scholarship is open to youths between the ages of 12 and 22, with six scholarships for youths in Grades 6 through 12, and two scholarships for collegiate youths working towards a Bachelor’s degree. … Continue Reading

The SBAS Tree Swallow Nest Box Project

Air BNB Audubon Style

By Steven Senesac


The Tree Swallow is a cavity nester that naturally nests in tree cavities (often made by woodpeckers). Human development frequently removes many trees and those that remain are often groomed in a way that minimizes dead branches (most appropriate for cavity nests). Such habitat disturbance is the likely reason why tree swallows dropped to the status of being an uncommon breeder around Santa Barbara and Ventura. … Continue Reading

National Audubon Climate Change Initiative – A Field Guide to the Future

One of the many delights of being on the open water is the chance to view the shifting landscape of local marine bird life at close range. Today, I noted the sentimental return of my favorite flying fall “fashionista” – a common loon still sporting her summer stripes, polka dots, and wild checks, placidly swimming beyond the harbor entrance. The loon is among our 118 beloved local birds threatened by climate change, but thankfully, it is not too late for us to take action to prevent further damage.

… Continue Reading

Birding Hot Spot Identification Project

hooded oriole_6

The purpose of this project of the SBAS Conservation Science Committee is to identify local birding “hot spots” based on our citizen-science research and collective observation data and through a letter-writing campaign to the county and cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara, to notify and educate the applicable agencies of our concerns and advocacy for the birds and their habitats.




2014 Santa Barbara County Science Fair Winner of the Audubon Award

Danny Luu_SB Audubon award science fair 2014

The 2014 Santa Barbara County Science Fair was held in March, and one of the judges was Richard Figueroa, SBAS Science Chair who had the honor of presenting the Santa Barbara Audubon Award to this year’s winner, Righetti High School senior, Danny Luu. Danny’s project: “The Effects of Runoff on Salvia Leucantha and Hummingbird Interactions” also won a gold medal and the Best in Fair award. Danny Luu was invited to present his winning science fair project at the April SBAS program, a presentation of Jeff McLoughlin’s film: The Condor’s Shadow held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The Santa Barbara Audubon Award is named in honor of founding SBAS member, Joy Parkinson.

Tricolored Blackbird California Survey 2014

Tricolored Blackbird male
Male tricolored blackbird – Photo by Bom Meese

Richard Figueroa, SBAS Science Chair, has been recruiting and coordinating volunteers to monitor and collect survey data for tricolored blackbirds to document their decline in numbers. Our volunteers have surveyed sites in Santa Ynez and Cuyama. The conservation of the species has received increased attention due to the petition to list the species under the protections of the federal and state of California Endangered Species Acts. … Continue Reading

Tree Swallow Monitoring

TreeSwallow 2009-2Jeff Simeon conducted a tree-swallow monitoring training session Saturday, April 5 at Coal Oil Point Reserve for volunteers and interns to learn how to champion this project by scheduling regular monitoring dates, replacing broken nesting boxes, rusty mounting poles and hardware, and cleaning the boxes for the spring nesting season.

White-Tailed Kite Monitoring

Two squabbling juvenile White-tailed Kites. Photo by David Levasheff.
Two squabbling juvenile White-tailed Kites. Photo by David Levasheff.

In April 2014, white-tailed kite volunteers and interns were treated to several kite-sightings on a field trip to Ellwood, Lake Los Carneros and More Mesa. Two nesting sites were spotted and five pairs of kites.

White-tailed Kite Monitoring 2013

Juvenile White-tailed Kite. Photo by David Levasheff
Juvenile White-tailed Kite. Photo by David Levasheff

By Anna Hilliard

Two years ago, an El Tecolote article posed the question: “What might it take to create a formalized local monitoring program for the white-tailed kite?” This September, with the help of dedicated observers and coordinators, the White-tailed Kite Monitoring Project (aka Kite Watch) wrapped up its second successful season of nest and roost site monitoring sponsored by donors to the SB Audubon Society. … Continue Reading

Conservation Committee Update

By Jonathan Appelbaum

It has been a busy summer for the Santa Barbara Audubon Society’s Science and Conservation Committee. Under the guidance of outgoing Conservation Chair, and new SBAS Co-President Steve Ferry, outgoing Science Chair, and new SBAS Education Chair, Andy Lanes, and myself, the newly installed conservation chair, the Committee has been active in a variety of research, policy and advocacy arenas. … Continue Reading