To keep up with the latest in local bird sightings, visit the SBAS supported SB Co Birding website and the associated SBCo Birding ListServ.

Spring Coastal Survey of the Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

On May 19, volunteers from Baja California up to Washington state participated in the biannual survey of the Brown Pelican. For Santa Barbara County, there were count teams at Santa Barbara Harbor and Santa Maria River Estuary. The Santa Barbara Harbor team of Tom Beland, Joan Kent, Laurel Luby, Libby Patten, and Cathy Peterson counted 272 pelicans while the Santa Maria effort led by Alex Abela counted 11. The total for Santa Barbara Harbor was the highest seen at this location since these surveys started in 2016 with about 15% of these being immature birds (< 3 years old based on head coloring). The gale force winds at the Santa Maria River were likely the cause for the very low count at this location (typically in the hundreds in the past). There were unofficial reports of a large number of pelicans (> 1000) seen that week near the Carpinteria Salt Marsh, so a team may be added at that location for the fall survey on September 8.

The results for our county have been entered into an online database and are being combined with those from other teams up and down the West Coast.  Many thanks to all of the participants!  More information on this survey can be found at:


Libby Patten is the Santa Barbara County Coordinator for the Brown Pelican Survey.

All the Roadrunning

It’s the title of a great song by Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler and it’s also the situation in Ellwood Canyon where a pair of resident Greater Roadrunners have run of the ranch, although the lyrics to the Goleta roadrunners’ song is simpler and more like the Looney Tunes Roadrunner “Meep-Meep” that stirs the hunger and always-failing scientific genius of Wile E. Coyote.

The greater roadrunners are big guys, ranging in size from 18 to 22 inches from tail to beak. They are members of the cuckoo family and can run up to 20 miles per hour and prefer sprinting to flying. The roadrunner is an opportunistic omnivore and dines on insects and small reptiles including lizards and rattlesnakes (I’d like to see that dinner-in-action!), rodents and small mammals, snails, small birds and eggs, fruit and seeds. They forage on the ground and will hunt for prey from under cover. Because they are such quick movers, the roadrunners are one of very few animals that will prey on a rattlesnake. Roadrunners usually live alone or in pairs, are monogamous and may mate for life. Pairs of roadrunners may hold a territory all year, are non-migratory and reside in their breeding area year round and their reproductive season is generally from spring to mid-summer. All the Roadrunning and Happy Summer Solstice!



Smithsonian Scientist Shares Research on Island Songbirds

March 12, 7 PM, Ventura

Santa Barbara Audubon was made aware of this talk put on by the Channel Islands National Park and thought some of our membership would be interested. News Release below.

February 25, 2014
For Immediate Release
Yvonne Menard, email hidden; JavaScript is required 805-658-5725
Smithsonian Scientist Shares Research on Island Songbirds


Ventura, CA — On March 12, 2014, Channel Islands National Park will host a special lecture about island songbirds by Smithsonian biologist Scott Sillett.

Sillett will describe why the California Channel Islands are one of the best places in the world to investigate ecology and evolution and will share his studies of songbirds including orange-crowned warblers, song sparrows, and island scrub-jays. … Continue Reading

Santa Barbara Final Results of 114th CBC

The Santa Barbara Christmas Bird Count website has been updated not only with our official submitted totals (“Latest Count Results”), but also with a tab showing a summary of our counts from 1991 onward (“Historical Since 1991”) where you may look up the average number of birds reported by decade, among other things.

Our overall species total for this year remains at 222, with 37,484 individual birds counted. Our overall number of species detected since 1990 is 310.

Thanks again goes to our birding community for a great count!

Surprise! The 114th Santa Barbara Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count 2014 at Rancho Goleta

As compilers, we plan for months to anticipate every possibility on count day: bad weather, lack of rain, too many people, not enough leaders, too many stake out birds, communication problems, problems accessing private property…anything that might throw a wrench into a great count day. But this year, in the weeks leading up to the big day, our biggest challenge was: where are the birds? … Continue Reading