How many people does it take to figure out the number of bird species that breed in Napa County? For the Napa-Solano Audubon Society (NSAS), all it took was some 70 volunteers, most of whom surveyed separate 5-kilometer plots between 1989 and 1993. The results? The nearly 200-page Breeding Birds of Napa County, an atlas detailing the natural history of the 145 known and 11 possible species that breed in the area. The atlas includes two foldout maps, drawings of each bird, distribution maps, habitat descriptions, and population estimates. In the spirit of the first breeding bird atlas, which was developed in Great Britain and Ireland in 1966, this book provides a baseline for future comparative population studies. NSAS expects this atlas will be a useful environmental record as the traditionally mixed-crop agricultural county becomes more and more a monoculture of wine grapes. Already, since the book’s completion, amateur ornithologists have noticed a decline in the numbers of loggerhead shrikes and burrowing owls. Funds raised from sales of the book will help produce a Solano County version of the atlas. Order forms can be downloaded at http://napasolanoaudubon.com/forsale.htm. Breeding bird atlases have also been started by Audubon groups and other birding clubs in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties. For opportunities to see some of these birds in the wild, including field trips along Huichica Creek (Napa County) and Highway 113 (Solano County), contact field trip chair David Takeuchi at (707) 643-5544.
For another chance to observe and celebrate Bay Area birds, visit the eighth annual San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival January 23 25. The free event, sponsored by Arc Ecology, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, and 35 other agencies, businesses, and nonprofits, is based on Mare Island in Vallejo. Festival attendees will enjoy once-a-year access to restricted parts of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the California Department of Fish and Game’s Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area, and various privately owned properties. According to Myrna Hayes, festival founder and coordinator, the event coincides with the peak of winter shorebird and waterfowl migration along the Bay Area segment of the Pacific Flyway, when more than 1 million shorebirds stop to rest or overwinter on the Bay. The festival includes both outdoor tours and indoor exhibits. For more information visit sfbayflywayfestival.com or call (707) 557-9816.