2829RE: [CALBIRDS] Birdfinding in Humboldt
- Jan 1, 2004Hi all,
Thanks to David for his post on Humboldt birding challenges. I might add
that for those of you with high speed internet connections and are yahoo
group members (most of you are, or you wouldn't be reading this), you can
subscribe in (almost) real time to the Arcata Bird Box.
This listserv recieves audio messages which are called in to the Arcata
BirdBox (707) 822-5666 (LOON).
The benefits of using this listserv are saving on your long-distance phone
bills by getting Arcata BirdBox messages in your mailbox. Another plus is
you receive voice messages in your mailbox minutes (mean = 5 minutes,
n=10)after it is called in. Also you get the messages without tying up the
Messages get sent as .wav files. Broadband helps as average file size is
270kb. Max size is about 1 MB.
Our thanks go to Elias Elias for setting up this really useful service.
Ron LeValley, Senior Biologist
Mad River Biologists
1497 Central Avenue
McKinleyville, CA 95519
From: dfxjcp@... [mailto:dfxjcp@...]
Sent: Thursday, January 01, 2004 11:57 AM
Subject: [CALBIRDS] Birdfinding in Humboldt
I don't often post to Calbirds, but I am going to ask ninety seconds of your
An out-of-the-area birder has recently complained to me (this is Fix
writing) about difficulty in relocating some rarities here in Humboldt
County lately. That post has spurred me to explain to the Calbirds
readership, and to newer birders, why these things happen. For starters,
99% of Humboldt County is rural countryside. This is an area larger than
some eastern states and with 150,000 people, nearly all jammed into the
Humboldt Bay lowlands and a few tiny towns elsewhere. With the exception of
Arcata Marsh, the birds you want to chase and see often show up in
out-of-the-way places in expanses of outlying habitat with few working
In contrast to, say, Southern California, habitat for rare birds here is
abundant. Humboldt is really nothing BUT habitat. We have heard birders
from farther south in California, accustomed to going to parks or estuarine
reserves, say that there is so much habitat they 'don't know where to bird'.
This is not all roses. When a grackle or sparrow or some other such
pastoral-country bird shows up, it may be way out along some side road or
farm lane miles from anywhere. If an odometer reading is by chance not
included in the initial directions, finding one's way to such a place can be
tough. We do our best. It takes time to understand how the area is laid
Some have expressed the opinion that, in general, the directions on the
Arcata Bird Box are not sufficient. This is in part true. It is also a
fact that the Box exists chiefly for the use of local birders. An
out-of-town birder interested in building a Humboldt list cannot expect
thorough directions to a Blackpoll, a Barred Owl, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
or any other fairly routine vagrant to be on the Box. We rely on the Box to
help each other keep the pulse, to decide where to spend an hour and a half
out birding; Stan Harris and I use the reports in compiling field notes.
Conversely, we know what's Hot, and try to provide the best guidance allowed
in the minute's time allowed for messages.
Resources exist that will help you. There is the Arcata area birding guide,
available locally. It is dated, and is pretty much designed for beginning
birders, but remains useful. The gazetteer section of Stanley Harris's
excellent Northwestern California Birds (HSU Press 1996) is replete with
well-worded detail and good maps. Directions at Joe Morlan's website,
readily found and printed out, are helpful. 'California Birding' will get
you there in a search.
Especially helpful are our local birders. There are many fine people who
live here who are into birds, know where they show up, know precisely how to
guide others to rarities on the phone, know the area can be confusing, know
that precious time and money are invested in travel, and are happy to take
time to assist out-of-area birders. I will gladly put our phone number out
there, it's (707) 822-3613. Give Jude or myself a call. Give us or any of
a number of others a ring when you get to town. We have a thriving birding
community, made up of people who want others to enjoy success when they
arrive after tiring drives or overpriced air connections.
Thank you for your attention and understanding.
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