Archive | January, 2013

Killer Whales Hunting near the Channel Islands

Killer Whales, or Orcas, are the world’s largest dolphins.  Members of the suborder Odontoceti, the toothed whales, Killer Whales are predatory and hunt a wide variety of prey throughout their vast range.  Although found in every ocean in the world, Killer Whales are more numerous in the cooler waters of higher latitudes.  Highly gregarious, Killer Whales live and hunt in groups called pods.  Resident pods, often found in the Northeast Pacific, prey primarily upon fish, while transient pods specialize in marine mammals.

Killer Whales in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

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Classroom Presentations Help Supplement Environmental Education at Local Schools

In 2012 the Havasi Wilderness Foundation (HWF) added a new program to its environmental education activities: classroom presentations.  Alongside the outdoor education programs that HWF funds with the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, these classroom presentations serve to enhance and supplement  existing environmental education curricula at schools.  As part of HWF’s mission of increasing environmental awareness and appreciation, these presentations are available at no cost.

Classroom presentation at Aspen Elementary's Eco Action Team

Classroom presentation at Aspen Elementary’s Eco Action Team


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Sparrows: Surprisingly Diverse

Often commonplace in suburbs and metropolitan areas, sparrows are some of the most familiar wild birds.  Although often regarded as just one species, “sparrows” in fact consist of two different families, over a dozen genuses, and a multitude of species.  There are over thirty species of sparrow present in North America alone.  Most are primarily seed-eaters, and can often be found foraging on the ground.  Here are some you might see in California:


Golden Crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)

Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)








Golden-crowned Sparrows can be distinguished by a yellow stripe down the center of their foreheads bordered by black.  During wintertime however, this yellow is duller and less noticeable, and the bordering black fades to a gray-brown.  These sprightly little birds spend their winters in California, and return to Canada and parts of Alaska in the summer months to breed.  They are among some of the first birds to arrive on their wintering grounds, and some of the last to leave. In California, they inhabit shrubby lowland areas, disturbed and weedy areas, and city edges. Like most other sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrows feed primarily off seeds.  In fact, they are an important destroyer of the seeds of many invasive and weedy plants!

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