Mount Diablo: A Place for Raptors

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Mount Diablo’s woodlands and canyons provide habitat for a fantastic variety of raptors, from kestrels to golden eagles (of which the northern Diablo Range hosts perhaps the world’s densest population). In the 1950s, however, the mountain lost one of its … Read more

Do local breeding birds mate for life?

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Q: Do any local breeding birds mate for life? Why? [Leo, San Francisco] A: Some local birds do form long-lasting pair bonds of several different kinds. Ravens and scrub jay pairs hang out together all year, not just at breeding … Read more

Black Rock Abalone Endangered

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A favorite food of the southern sea otter is black abalone, a marine mollusk that has historically put down roots in rocky intertidal zones from Southern Oregon to Baja. This once-abundant creature—one of seven abalone species found off California—is nearing … Read more

Least Terns at Alameda Naval Air Station

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In late spring, a thumb-size least tern chick emerges from its egg on Alameda Point. The chick’s eyes are open at birth, and it can walk soon after hatching. Its parents, who shared incubation, also take turns caring for the … Read more

Otters at Elkhorn Slough

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At the Moss Landing Marina halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey, I slip into a kayak and paddle toward Elkhorn Slough, one of California’s largest tidal salt marshes. Just beyond the mouth of the slough, Monterey Canyon reaches seaward for … Read more

Canvasback

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On an early map of San Pablo Bay, made in 1775, the Spanish explorer Jose Canizares wrote this phrase: “forests of the red duck.” The “forests” were the North Bay marshes, and the “red duck” was Aythya valisneria, the canvasback. … Read more

Marsh Gumplant

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Defining the edge of a shifting body of water like San Francisco Bay, whose exact extent changes with every tide, every season, every storm, can be tricky business. In our region the regulators sometimes fall back on a botanical criterion. … Read more

The Other Rail

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Everybody knows about the California clapper rail, the charismatic (though elusive) endangered bird of San Francisco Bay marshes. The San Pablo Baylands shelter almost half its known population. But here the clapper shares the wetland with its smaller, quieter, and … Read more

The View from the Can Club

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On a fall day in duck hunting season, the sound of shotgun fire echoes across the Napa-Sonoma Marshes. It will continue to do so. Here as elsewhere, hunters have paid a good share of the cost of habitat protection, and … Read more

Nature at the Table

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On summer weekends, the nearly 4,000 picnic tables of the East Bay Regional Park District are packed with families from many of the Bay Area’s diverse communities, returning year after year to their favorite spots, along with great blue herons hunting gophers, crows and ravens pillaging trash cans, and raccoons swiping meat right off the grill. All just part of the curious ecology of our local picnic areas.