SFBBO Science Director Maddy Schwarz
By Guest Blogger Maya Xu
By Science Director Nathan Van Schmidt
Last month, I spoke about SFBBO's research on phalaropes at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua in Lee Vining, California. Every year, conservationists with Mono Lake hold the Chautauqua as a special birding event with field trips and talks to celebrate the unique birds of Mono Lake and the eastern Sierras. This year was a particularly special event, hosting a "Phalarope Festival" to bring together scientists from across North and South America to host the first group meeting of an amazing collaboration we've built, the International Phalarope Working Group.
Phalaropes are very unique and understudied shorebirds. They're small like a sandpiper, but unlike sandpipers that forage by probing in the mud, they prefer to herd prey by swimming in tight circles. There are only three species, which are exclusively found in the Americas: the Wilson's Phalarope, the Red-necked Phalarope, and the Red Phalarope. While the Red Phalarope spends its time out at sea, the Wilson's Phalarope and the Red-necked Phalarope are even more unusual in that they specialize in hypersaline lakes. ...
By Guest Blogger Wendy Gibbons
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe," wrote the naturalist and environmental philosopher John Muir in his 1911 book My First Summer in the Sierra. Muir’s eloquent expression of the central challenge of ecological research captures beautifully the daily work that comprises SFBBO’s bread and butter. The full depth and breadth of the organization’s mission can be challenging to describe in one web page, newsletter, or research article. For example, this spring, SFBBO scientists and volunteers contributed to local and national efforts to understand microplastics in avian diets, waterbird use of salt ponds, nesting behavior in raptors, and pollination by songbirds. Each warbler that our bird banders carefully swabbed for pollen, every phone call our biologists answered to share their knowledge, and each scientific paper our research teams contributed data to through meticulous weekly...
By Guest Blogger & SFBBO Board Co-Chair Bruce Paton
Bird photography was key to my mental health during the pandemic. Some of my calmest moments the past few years have been spent at the edge of the Bay. I’m a passionate bird photographer, and my camera has helped me first to see birds and then to learn about their behavior and their habitats.
Professionally and personally, I have spent several decades working on sustainability. In particular, I have been working and writing to help communities limit and reverse the damage from climate change.
“Sustainability”, “environment” and even “climate change” are abstract concepts, but watching a Great Egret take off always takes my breath away...
By Teen Volunteers Peter Covert, Lara Tseng, and Yunjiao (Grace) Xiao
By Guest Blogger Wendy Gibbons
The joys of sharing scientific research, bird banding, and gathering over taco dinners proved irresistible to adventurers in the world of avian conservation science, including SFBBO senior landbird biologist Dan Wenny, research affiliate Julian Tattoni, and volunteer Wendy Gibbons, this May. Wenny, Tattoni and Gibbons experienced this winning combination during the 2023 meeting of the Western Bird Banding Association (WBBA) meeting outside of Santa Clarita, California. The WBBA is a scientific organization that encourages and promotes bird banding as a tool to study the biology and migration of western birds.
The three made the trip south from the Bay Area to join over 40 other bird banders from the western United States and Canada, including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Idaho. Tattoni presented the results of their research study on the timing of bird molt...
By Guest Blogger & SFBBO Board Member Debbie Wong
"Wow, hello handsome!” I was talking to the male Townsend’s Warbler that I took out of the bag. It is always a mixture of mystery, surprise, and anticipation when processing (and banding) a bird that you didn’t personally extract from the mist net.
This gorgeous male (see photo below) that we met on February 8 was the first of its species we saw this year, a sign of spring. After so many cancellations and delays due to recent rain and cold temperatures, SFBBO's Coyote Creek Field Station, CCFS, where I have worked as a volunteer bander for over 20 years, is slowly resuming its operation...
By Guest Blogger & SFBBO Board Member Shubha Tuljapurkar
As a nature photographer, I often visit the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge in Alviso. Early one morning, I was photographing a crowd of Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets and gulls feasting and frolicking at high tide. I marveled at how lucky I was to enjoy that sight within ten miles of where I lived, and that's when it hit me. If we didn't protect our habitats from the pressures of climate change and people, these birds may not be frolicking here in the future. I resolved to get involved.
I looked for ways to leverage my background in marketing and management in the technology industry, and my previous leadership positions at several Bay Area start-ups and at nonprofit organizations promoting digital literacy at underserved schools in California...
By Guest Blogger Kelsey Sweetland
Wingbeat is a blog where you can find the most recent stories about our science and outreach work. We'll also share guest posts from volunteers, donors, partners, and others in the avian science and conservation world. To be a guest writer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.