SBAS Science – A 2019 Summary

2019 continued to be a busy year for our small but dedicated Science committee led by Steve Senesac. Below is a brief summary of the programs they are working on.

Nest Boxes

SBAS has 22 nest boxes at Lake Los Carneros. They are used by both Tree Swallows and Western Bluebirds. The nesting season runs from about March to August. This year we had six dedicated volunteers checking the status of the nests each week and another team of four banding or checking the bands of the birds at appropriate times. 

In 2019 we had 104 Tree Swallow and 10 Western Bluebirds fledged.  From the banding we determined that the Western Bluebirds were returning to the same nests each year with the same mate.  The Tree Swallows however were not all returning and then to different nests with different mates.  The Tree Swallows often do two nests in one season and would mostly change mates between the first nest and second nesting.

Invertebrate Sampling at COPR and NCOS

SBAS manages the aquatic invertebrate sampling for Coal Oil Point Reserve (COPR) and North Campus Open Space (NCOS).  The program began in 2017 with one intern and continues to grow.  This past year, we had 15 UCSB undergraduate volunteers and interns investigating 14 sites. A report of the 2018 data was produced which showed that brand-new NCOS sites produced the same or more abundance and diversity as the established COPR sites.

White-tailed Kites (WTKI)

  • Goleta WTKI produced the most fledglings we have seen since the beginning of the drought
  • 10 breeding events by 8 kite pairs in 4 open spaces produced 27 fledglings
  • Bishop Ranch and Goleta Slough apparently did not produce
  • Lorraine Drive and east fork of Maria Ygnacia Creek produced late in the season
  • Botanic Gardens had 3 fresh young in a nest in September
  • Lake Los Carneros 1st clutch May in Star Pine
    • 1 fledge found dead near nest tree
    • remaining 3 fledges driven away
  • Lake Los Carneos 2nd clutch in mid summer in highly unusual Eucalyptus and unusually close to the first nest
    • 3 birds fledged, one noticeably larger
    • fledged birds driven out of natal area but allowed to say in SW corner of LLC
  • Lake Los Carneros – comments
    • This was the 3rd year of nesting in the Star Pine for female. Her second male since the first was presumably fatally injured in 2018 by Kingbirds
    • This new male was an excellent provider of food
    • Prey this year obtained by parents in areas NW of Stow House
    • WTKI night roost at LLC in November for a short period. A high of 40 WTKI seen in the night roost

Snowy Plovers

Initiated and run for its first six years by SBAS, the program continues under the management of Coal Oil Point Reserve. Steve Ferry continues to keep SBAS updated on the program now.

This year was a difficult one due to a sudden rise in Crow predation of the eggs and chicks. The number of chicks which fledged this year was 8, a very low number from the site average of 31.

15 eggs saved from unusual tidal flooding at Sands Beach in July were fledged in the Santa Barbara Zoo and released back to their natural habitat.