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Fire and Hummingbirds

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  • John C. MacGregor
    As many of you know, in the San Gabriel Mountains north of the Los Angeles Basin we are experiencing the greatest fire in the history of California--more than
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 31, 2009
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      As many of you know, in the San Gabriel Mountains north of the Los
      Angeles Basin we are experiencing the greatest fire in the history of
      California--more than 100,000 acres burned and still growing
      rapidly. More than 12,000 homes evacuated. Many structure
      destroyed. The entire southern California communication system of
      television and emergency radio towers and the famous Hale Observatory
      threatened on Mount Wilson. Completely out of control, with
      containment at least another week away. Here is the show we have
      been watching in the daytime (when the southwestern sea breeze blows
      the smoke away from the cities--otherwise, we can't see anything) for
      the past five days:

      http://brandonriza.com/Video/HTML/ZeroPercentContained.html

      I have received several questions from hummingbird watchers about the
      effect this catastrophic fire might have on our little friends.
      Would they get away? What would the very foul air quality do to
      them? (As a lifelong asthma sufferer, I can attest that it makes
      breathing extremely difficult. I sleep with a C-PAP machine that
      filters and humidifies the air, so I am not in great trouble at
      night). But what would it do to the lungs of tiny hummers? It would
      certainly kill any unfledged babies, but would newly fledged birds be
      able to cope with these conditions?

      John C. MacGregor, Hummers-West List Owner
      South Pasadena, CA, USA
      USDA Zone 9
      Sunset Zones 21/23
    • Nicholas Freeman
      Hi Birders Nick and I have surveyed the San Gabriel mountains of Los Angeles County for owls the past nine years and worry our survey sites may be affected by
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 1, 2009
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        Hi Birders

        Nick and I have surveyed the San Gabriel mountains of Los Angeles
        County for owls the past nine years and worry our survey sites may be
        affected by the fire. We've also banded Northern Saw-whet Owl along
        the Angeles Crest. I've been told by survey consultants and forestry
        biologists that Spotted Owl have site fidelity until their territory
        "burns up". These owls seem to favor old growth canyons. The fire is
        ravaging old growth, lots of fuel to burn. I've looked at a map that
        shows the eastern edge of the fire to be a couple of miles east of
        Red Box: Angeles Crest Highway at Mt. Wilson Road. We've had a
        number of saw-whet (and other owl species) encounters over the years
        just before this road intersection. The forest to the east of here
        seems to not be affected by the fire but the north edge of the fire
        is heading toward the San Gabriel Wilderness. Newcomb Ranch
        restaurant (about 30 miles from La Canada) seems to still be standing
        but I also heard that maintenance houses were being evacuated this
        afternoon from the Chilao area. We hope that Mt. Wilson observatory
        survives this fire as it's in the path of it. It will be interesting
        to survey these areas once the fire ends and public entry is allowed
        into the Angeles National Forest. That could be until the first snow
        or rain fall of the season. For hummingbird observation at Willow
        Springs along Angeles Forest Highway, there is a small cafe
        "Hummingbird Springs" that hang a number of hummingbird feeders
        outside of their cafe. I hope this cafe survived the fire and I look
        forward to see it still standing as it is always worth the stop to
        get close-up views of the hummingbirds.

        Mary Freeman
        Glendale, CA
      • Ken Burton
        Hummingbirds are likely to fare relatively well. They are highly mobile and generally favor early-successional habitats. The smoky air probably won t bother
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 2, 2009
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          Hummingbirds are likely to fare relatively well. They are highly mobile
          and generally favor early-successional habitats. The smoky air probably
          won't bother them much. There are few if any active nests now. Some
          individuals will lose habitat temporarily but the fires should produce
          excellent wildflower blooms that will provide abundant food for hummers
          in the coming years.

          Ken Burton
          Arcata
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "John C. MacGregor" <jonivy@...>
          To: <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 10:02 PM
          Subject: [CALBIRDS] Fire and Hummingbirds


          > As many of you know, in the San Gabriel Mountains north of the Los
          > Angeles Basin we are experiencing the greatest fire in the history of
          > California--more than 100,000 acres burned and still growing
          > rapidly. More than 12,000 homes evacuated. Many structure
          > destroyed. The entire southern California communication system of
          > television and emergency radio towers and the famous Hale Observatory
          > threatened on Mount Wilson. Completely out of control, with
          > containment at least another week away. Here is the show we have
          > been watching in the daytime (when the southwestern sea breeze blows
          > the smoke away from the cities--otherwise, we can't see anything) for
          > the past five days:
          >
          > http://brandonriza.com/Video/HTML/ZeroPercentContained.html
          >
          > I have received several questions from hummingbird watchers about the
          > effect this catastrophic fire might have on our little friends.
          > Would they get away? What would the very foul air quality do to
          > them? (As a lifelong asthma sufferer, I can attest that it makes
          > breathing extremely difficult. I sleep with a C-PAP machine that
          > filters and humidifies the air, so I am not in great trouble at
          > night). But what would it do to the lungs of tiny hummers? It would
          > certainly kill any unfledged babies, but would newly fledged birds be
          > able to cope with these conditions?
          >
          > John C. MacGregor, Hummers-West List Owner
          > South Pasadena, CA, USA
          > USDA Zone 9
          > Sunset Zones 21/23
          >
          >
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