March 2009

We found this blog from a teacher who attended the recent Elkhorn Slough Reserve’s teacher workshop.

She gave a nice account of her day’s sightings and some nice photos too.

Here’s some of her bird sightings:

Canada Goose – Branta canadensis     2
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos     8
Bufflehead – Bucephala albeola     10
Common Merganser – Mergus merganser     1
Western Grebe – Aechmophorus occidentalis     1
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus     10
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias     1
Great Egret – Ardea alba     8
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula     4
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura     4
White-tailed Kite – Elanus leucurus     1
Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus     1
California Gull – Larus californicus     X
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri     10
Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna     3
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon     1
Black Phoebe – Sayornis nigricans     4
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) – Aphelocoma californica californica     2
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos     4
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas     2   **LIFER**
Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia     4


The first Harbor Seal pups of the season have been seen at Elkhorn Slough…

Many of you have seen the now famous photo of the sea otter holding a video camera taken by Enrique Aguirre.  Here is the story behind that incredible photo in the photographer’s own words.

Please join us for the second spring shorebird survey to catch the migrants as they move through the area as well as census the resident shorebirds.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teams of volunteer birders will be counting birds within defined areas along the main channel (by boat), and at four walk-in estuarine sites. We particularly need help from expert birders (i.e. those that can readily identify the various species of waterbirds and shorebirds), but also welcome novices to count easily identified species. Please RSVP if you can join us, and list your first and second choice locations:

Main Channel boat survey 7:00am-11:00am
North Harbor (Jetty Road), 8:00-10:00am
Parson’s Overlook, 8:00-10:00am
South Marsh, 8:00-10:00am
North Marsh 4:00-6:00pm

For more information or to sign up contact ,
Suzanne Fork
email: skfork “at”
Research Biologist
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve just posted an update of their research monitoring bird nest boxes at the Reserve.

Volunteer Shirley Murphy is checking a nest box with a flashlight and small dental mirror so as not to disturb chicks

Volunteer Shirley Murphy is checking a nest box with a flashlight and small dental mirror so as not to disturb chicks

This program monitoring about 150 nest boxes in the oak woodlands of ESNERR began in 1998. Each spring and summer the nestboxes are monitored weekly by a team of volunteers. By carefully checking the boxes and consistently recording what they see, the volunteers are able to obtain data on:
– nest box occupancy (which boxes are occupied and by which species)
– phenology (timing of reproductive events)
– indicators of reproductive success (clutch size, hatching rate, fledging rate)
– parasitism (blowflies in nesting material)

Monitoring these parameters serves as one way of keeping track of the health of oak woodland communities around the ESNERR over time. For instance, dramatic declines in nest box use or fledging rate would serve as a warning signal alerting managers to potential problems in these habitats. These data also would motivate a search by researchers for new negative environmental influences in the area.

To see more about this program and how to get involved go here: