Good morning, Jane,
Well, it isn’t for nothing that we are trying to protect the birds in the San Lorenzo River. Three days ago I read a joint report from the World Wildlife Federation and the Zoological Society of London. According to their earlier calculations, animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012. Now the latest studies indicate that this will increase to 67% by 2020. The article said, “Rivers and lakes are the hardest hit habitats with animal populations down by 81% since 1970, due to excessive water extraction, pollution and dams.” Folks wonder why we get so agitated about threats to the river wildlife. This is the answer. Worldwide, 81% of animal populations on rivers have been destroyed in just 50 years!!
We hear from all sides that there is a housing crisis here in Santa Cruz. But what about the housing crisis of other species? Let’s write a proposal for some luxury housing for the birds and see how that flies! We could call ourselves the San Lorenzo Avian Housing Development Corporation, Inc. We could apply for membership in the Business Council!
This last week I got an excited phone call from my neighbor and bird-loving friend Batya Kagan , telling me that there was a large black and white bird in a tall Cottonwood tree near the County Building. I ran over immediately and found the first OSPREY I have seen this far north on the river. I was excited! It later flew south, then back again to the same perch. I waited a pretty long time but didn’t see it attempt a fishing expedition. Are there more fish upstream? Fewer fish downstream?
The El Rio Mobile Home Park where I live, situated next to the levee, is full of bird enthusiasts. Since they know I write this blog, they are beginning to tell me their own stories. Kathy Reed told me about seeing a COOPERS HAWK capture and devour a crow on the ground. Kathy said that the flock of crows in a neighboring tree were enraged, screaming at the hawk as she devoured her prey. As I think I wrote in an earlier blog, crows never forget this kind of injury to one of their own. I pity the poor Cooper’s Hawk if she continues to hang out in this area. She may be harrassed for years. If I don’t report a Cooper’s Hawk, you will know why.
And speaking of raptors on the river, here is a photo of a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK I saw last week north of the Water St. Bridge on a perch frequently used by a juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk last year and then abandoned all summer. Maybe it is the same bird, now returned all grown up, sporting a beautiful burnt orange breast. Where has she been hunting all summer? Did she nest? Glad to have her back!
I went out early in the morning after one of our heavy rains, loving the fresh, cool, misty air. I chatted with Ricardo, a homeless man under the Water St. Bridge. He rold me that he had been seeing sea-lions swimming up past the bridge – surprising to me. Ricardo called the sea lions ‘rhino babies’ pointing out that the snouts of rhinos and seals are similar , both adapted to slip through the water in the most efficient way.
And speaking of babies, I can hardly believe that I saw a PIED-BILLED GREBE on October 24th, near the Highway 1 bridge, still in juvenile plumage.
May our species learn to live harmoniously with all other species on this earth.
Cheers to all of you downriver species!