Duck! It’s Time for Winter Waterfowl

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San Francisco Bay and its surrounding wetlands become a mallard mecca every winter. Mallards come by the thousands to spend the relatively balmy fall and winter months here while their breeding grounds are locked in snow and ice. And they’re … Read more

Bay Area Migrations

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Thanks to our mild climate and productive ecosystems, many species of animals (including people) migrate to and through the Bay Area. Winter is a great time to learn about some of them. In the North Bay, on Mare Island in … Read more

Lead Poisoning in California Condors

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When California condor number 307 saw biologists capturing other condors at Pinnacles National Monument last summer, she apparently spooked and flew northeast to San Luis Reservoir. By the time she returned three days later, biologists were concerned: Of the ten … Read more

sand dollars

The West Coast’s Living Sand Dollars

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There’s a lot more to the western sand dollar (Dendraster excentricus) than meets the eye. Most people who spend any time at the beach are familiar with the sand dollar’s skeleton, or test—the rigid, white flattened disk that commonly washes … Read more

Making Peace with Coyote

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Clementine is a 130-pound great Pyrenees—a white shag carpet of a dog who sleeps through the day out in the rolling hills of West Marin, guarding up to 1,500 head of sheep owned by Bill Jensen. Jensen lives on 240 … Read more

Standing the Tests of Time

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Walk patiently along a few ocean beaches in the Bay Area, and you just might find objects of stunning beauty that also provide clues to a lost world, fossil sand dollars that are as much as 2 million years old. These fossils, not shells but skeletons called tests, show up only near Daly City and Point Reyes, so it’s a privilege to find intact specimens that have survived the rigors of the coast for many centuries.

The Napa Valley, and a History of Water and Wine

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The Napa Valley was once a place of enormous natural bounty, fed by a vibrant, healthy river teeming with salmon and steelhead. Today, the valley is more famous for its managed bounty of grapes and fine wine. The river, hemmed in by vineyards, has too often been relegated to the status of a waste canal. But now a unique alliance of growers and scientists has come together to give the Napa’s upper reach a chance to regain some of its wildness.

What were those fins off Ocean Beach?

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Q: Off San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, I saw dorsal fins beyond the surfers. After 20 minutes, I saw two bearers of fins breaching the water. What were they? [Claire, San Bruno] A: Congratulations on being very observant. The animals you … Read more

Birding Blind

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When I was growing up in Tiburon, my grandparents lived only a couple miles away and were a big part of my childhood. It was my grandfather who ignited my interest in nature, and in particular birds, by giving me … Read more