Re: [LACoBirds] Story behind the Red-flanked Bluetail
- Birders and Geographers,
I like what Kimball wrote about "foresight of geopolitical powers-that-be" which needs further enlightenment. And I agree especially that Los Angeles County birders and native plant aficionados, and naturalist-ecologists are indeed fortunate that San Clemente Island and Santa Catalina Island are in our county because the Palos Verdes peninsula juts out into the sea as our unofficial 9th Channel Island and is also in our county.
And so we get more species including sea birds that are oceanic and evolutionary subspecies of mainland California birds, as in the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike, an offshoot of our mainland Loggerhead Shrike, via the other endemic subspecies of shrike found on several other Channel Islands. It is best to see Grinnell & Miller (1944) for account of the three shrike subspecies of our coast, which is a good read!
And so, while the shrike may go extinct in mainland Los Angeles County as a breeding bird as human population and development increases, we will still have the Loggerhead Shrike, in its two subpsecies forms, on San Clemente and Santa Catalina Island respectively. By the way, eventually, the US Navy will close the military base on San Clemente, which then will be added to the Channel Islands National Park which now has 5 islands, with only three left to acquire, San Clemente, Santa Catalina, and San Nicolas (another Navy Island) which will close eventually.
I was indeed fortunate to see the San Clemente Island Loggerhead Shrike in 1997, and some additional endemic bird subspecies, with a visit to the island for a week to assist Steve Junak in a rare plant survey. I also recall the unique experience of seeing the endemic and rare Island Night Lizard. I got some good photos. It helped me to complete the list of visiting ALL EIGHT CHANNEL ISLANDS, and becoming a member of that exclusive club of that namesake, while I worked for Los Angeles County, in the Department of Parks and Recreation, as the Supervising Naturalist and Superintendent of the Santa Catalina Island Interpretative Nature Center from 1996-1997.
However, on the other point made by Kimball and with all due respect to him for his superb birding knowledge, I disagree that it was "geopolitical power" that put San Clemente Island into Los Angeles County, but rather simply pure logic and some good fortune of objective mapmakers in the mid-19th Century, taking the real world map as it was known at that time, and drawing the straightest-nearest line to the coast of California to determine which county would get San Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands. California became a state in the mid-19th Century with a Gold Rush, and pre-Civil War. San Clemente Island was placed in the newly created Los Angeles County because of being directly out to sea from Los Angeles County in a straight line.
Keep in mind and please consider that in the 1850s-1860s, Orange County did not exist, but was instead part of Los Angeles County. It would not be for another many decades and nearly half-century, until circa 1890s early 1900s, that Orange County would be created by taking away part of Los Angeles County, which indeed was a "geopolitical powers-that-be" effort, and we lost the birds of extreme southern coastal mainland Los Angeles County to Orange County. Imagine if Newport Bay and Bolsa Chica were in Los Angeles County today, not taken away from us apprxoimately 100 years ago? How many more than 505 species of birds would we have? That would be a good question for Kimball to elucidate for all of us? Perhaps there are no California record birds that were seen only in Orange County?
The story is similar for Santa Catalina Island. And San Clemente Island is about 20 miles further out to sea just beyond Catalina. And the story is similar for the northern Channel Islands, but it gets hazy with Ventura County and Santa Barbara County both getting some islands and not by which county is closest to the islands, but that is beyond the story here, unless others want to know how those two counties divided up the northern Channel Islands?
Robert van de Hoek, Conservation Biologist & Biogeographer
Ballona Institute & Wetlands Defense Fund
Los Angeles (Playa Del Rey), CA
--- On Thu, 12/8/11, Kimball Garrett <kgarrett@...> wrote:
From: Kimball Garrett <kgarrett@...>
Subject: [LACoBirds] Story behind the Red-flanked Bluetail
Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011, 8:55 AM
There is a nice "first-person" account of the discovery and
identification of the San Clemente Island Red-flanked Bluetail on the
Assuming acceptance by the CBRC, this adds another bird to the Los
Angeles County list. By my count, this brings the county bird list to
We praise the foresight of the geopolitical powers-that-be who decided
that San Clemente Island was in Los Angeles County.
Kimball L. Garrett
Ornithology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA
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- Regarding the assignment of county boundaries over time, I have a short
summary on line at
San Diego and Mariposa counties have much more to bemoan in their "loss"
of county birding sites than does Los Angeles.
In 1872, Ventura County was carved out of Santa Barbara County, and
various Channel Island assigned. However, Santa Barbara Island remained
with Santa Barbara County, despite its geographically "wrong" fit in
that scheme, and I think that had to do with the name "Santa Barbara
Island" which some wished to remain in the namesake County, geography be
damned. Nobody else much cared, so that is what happened.