Winter Bird Spotting in Southern California

Here are some of our picks of wintering birds to look out for in Southern California

On December 21st, Winter Solstice officially marks the beginning of our chilliest season here in Southern California.   Southern California winters are, however, pleasantly mild by comparison with most other regions.  These mild winters  make for an ideal wintering ground for a multitude of bird species.  Here are a few species to look out for:

Canada Goose 

Often seen in parks and on golf courses, Canada Geese have become more numerous in urban and suburban areas in recent years.  Look for these geese flying in V-shaped formations or in pairs.

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). Wintering range encompasses much of the United States.


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Participate in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count

Volunteers can help Audubon and other organizations assess the health of  bird populations and guide conservation action

The 113th Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14, 2012 through January 5, 2013.  Click here to learn more and find out how to participate.

Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)

Havasi Wilderness Foundation’s Eco-Friendly Holiday Guide

Recycled wrapping paper. Via

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the holiday frenzy has officially descended upon us.  Although the holidays are often known as a time of generosity, they have a profound negative impact on the environment.

The nature of the technocentric society we live in today coupled with the economic systems that sustain multinational manufacturing amount to a considerable amount of waste generation over the holiday season, in addition to a surge in greenhouse gas emissions.  The holidays, however, don’t have to be such an assault on the environment.  Rest assured, you can still celebrate the holidays as you normally do and reduce your environmental impact.  All it takes is a few minor adjustments to normal holiday-time behaviors and rituals.

Look locally: we’re certainly not suggesting that you forgo giving gifts, and of course there are many items that currently do not have eco-friendly alternatives.  However, for some items on your holiday checklist, there are many viable options that have lesser environmental impact, such as handmade and artisan goods.

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The Dyemaker’s Puffball, aka the “Dog Turd” Fungus

Bizarre Fungus Resembles Animal Droppings

Pisolithus tinctorius: the Dyemaker’s Puffball, aka the “Dog Turd” Fungus

Fungi come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, though the most recognizable and familiar tend to be the toadstools, with the classic umbrella cap.  An incredibly diverse kingdom with somewhere between 1.5 and 5 million species , fungi are ubiquitous yet often quite inconspicuous.  Fungi often go unnoticed due to the bulk of their bodies, or mycelia, being located underground.  When we do notice fungi, it is often the fruiting body, or sporocarp, that emerges.  Commonly this fruiting body is a mushroom, although other forms include puffballs and morels.

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