Thursday, March 31, 2016

Owens Lake Birding Weekend

The 2nd Owens Lake Bird Festival is less than a month away. Celebrate the return of migrating birds as they migrate between continents. Join expert local guides on outings around beautiful Owens Lake. Go to our website for info and registration:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Welcome to the Desert Cities Bird Club!
We cover the fantastic birding areas in and around the Coachella Valley of Southern California.
If you have any questions or want to be put on our email list to receive our newsletter of local birding activities three times per year, email Kurt Leuschner at
Happy Birding!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Mountain Yellow-legged Frog

The Mountain Yellow-legged Frog, MYLF, Rana Muscosa, once a common frog in the Southern
California mountains, was placed on the Endangered Species list in 2002. At that time, less than 200 of
these frogs were reported to live in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountain
streams. The last couple of years have brought extreme challenges to the recovery efforts being made
to prevent the extirpation of the frog from the San Jacinto mountains.
Decline of the MYLF over the years has been attributed to many factors including habitat loss,
nonnative predators (bullfrogs,trout) and a fungal disease, called chytridriomycosis. The Mountain
Fire of 2013 burned a portion of the habitat in the San Jacinto Wilderness, followed by a torrential
rainfall that caused ash and sediment to fill in some crucial creeks. The ongoing drought has added to
the current perilous state.
A critical component of the restoration efforts began in 2006 when numerous tadpoles were
rescued from several pools that were drying up in the San Jacinto mountains. Seventy-eight of these
tadpoles were transferred to the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. This was the
beginning of the captive breeding program with the cooperation from various agencies including; US
Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife, US Forest Service, California Dept of Fish and Wildlife and
California Department of Transportation.
The first of many releases in the San Jacinto Mountains occurred at the James Reserve near Lake
Fulmor in 2011. The researchers discovered that releasing adult frogs is more successful long term
than tadpoles which had a lower survival rate. As a USFS volunteer, I participated in a release project
in the Fall of 2013. Good looking, healthy frogs were on their way to a new life in a couple of clear
mountain pools with perfect surrounding habitat. It is uncertain how many of them survived the
subsequent flash floods and last year's drought.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Western Field Ornithologists

Dear Desert Cities Bird Club members,

There are many benefits to joining the Western Field Ornithologists.

You will receive our quarterly journal Western Birds, be able to participate in our popular annual conferences (the next one will be in San Diego Oct. 9-12, 2014) and you can travel with WFO leaders on exclusive field trips available to WFO members only.  There are 3 such trips that have just been announced today in fact (see below).  I will be leading one of them (to New Zealand November 23 -December 8, 2014 - limited to the first 12 who sign up)

Consider joining WFO for only $35/year by going to our website and clicking on Join/Renew.  Or for additional savings on your first year's membership contact me directly and I will give you more information on an introductory membership.  the WFO website is>

Email me with any questions.

Happy Birding!

Saturday, August 31, 2013


When you take a trip into Idyllwild, you may notice signs that warn against
transporting oak firewood into town. The reason for the warning is the Gold-spotted
Oak Borer beetle.
The GSOB beetle is native to southeastern Arizona and was first identified in San
Diego county in 2004. Within six years, the beetle killed 21,500 trees. The numbers are
higher now. Although research continues for the best treatment, there is no cure once
a tree has been infested. For now, prevention is the best option.
Adult GSOB beetles lay their eggs in crevices of the bark of oak trees. The larvae eat
under the bark causing damage until they are mature and take flight. Since they can
live on a dead tree over one year, it is recommended that oak firewood not be
transported into the town since it is uncertain to the consumer if the wood harbors
larvae which will infect other trees once they emerge.
Robin Roberts
Many birds and mammals are impacted when an oak tree is killed. For me, the
Acorn Woodpecker is a symbol for protecting these trees but many others could also
be chosen. When we moved to Idyllwild, it was one of the first birds that I discovered.
Of course, it is hard to miss them when a group of them land on a tree greeting each
other loudly. I also learned through observation that they hang out together on a tree
covered in holes.
They are masters at drilling holes just the right size to store their acorns in their
“granary” tree. A family will work tirelessly to store thousands of acorns in a single tree
each Fall. They they will together defend their cache against potential thieves.
I noticed that their “granary” tree is usually right next to an oak tree.
Quite convenient! They are awesome birds to watch!
If you want to see more photos of nature and trails up in Idyllwild, you can visit Robin Roberts

Kurt's Corner

Welcome to our Fall issue! We also welcome Robin Roberts and Phil Parker as new co-editors of
the newsletter. We will be doing three issues per year: a September “fall” issue, a January “winter”
issue, and a May “spring” issue. So watch for that. And if you have anything you’d like to contribute
to the newsletters please feel free to contact any of us. We also have a blogspot where we hope to post the newsletters and any other events that come up in-between issues. It is
You can also connect with us on Facebook. The Desert Cities Bird Club page is maintained by Kyri
Fall migration is already underway, and it’s a great time to be in the cool mountains. The birds
know this too, so watch for warblers to be migrating south along the mountaintops in places like the
Idyllwild Nature Center or the Mt. San Jacinto State Park at the top of the tramway. Shorebirds and
gulls are already being found in good numbers at the Salton Sea, the San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge, and
at Harper Dry Lake near Barstow where a Red-necked Stint recently made a two day stopover (a first
record for San Bernardino County). The Fall is one of the most exciting times to be birding as many
young birds are making their very first southerly migration and have a tendency to “get lost”!
A recent poll ranked the California Condor as the “Most-Wanted Bird” that birders in the U.S. would
like to see in the wild. I’m happy to report that they are relatively easy to see at the South Rim of the
Grand Canyon and don’t seem to mind the tourists either. Another place to see them is along Highway
One near the Pfieffer Burns State Park entrance. Or try mile marker #37. They feed on seals and other
things that wash up on the beach. If you see the lone CHP officer that patrols this stretch of highway,
ask him – he’s a real condor-aficionado!
There is talk of lumping (again) the three species of Rosy-Finches into one species. More on that
later. Meanwhile prepare yourself for two species of Sage Sparrow – they have been split into two
species with two new names. One is called the Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli) and the other
Sagebrush Sparrow (A. nevadensis). During the breeding season Bell’s Sparrow is more coastal and
Sagebrush Sparrow an interior species. The problem is during migration and in the winter they occur
side by side. The bottom line is you need to look at all “Sage–type” sparrows a lot more carefully now.
Consult your National Geographic field guide for details.
Good Birding! Kurt


Big Morongo Canyon Preserve 
This 31,000 acre riparian preserve is located between Joshua Tree National park and the San Bernardino Mountains. Over 247 bird species have been recorded here. It is officially recognized as an Important Bird Area and a Watchable Wildlife Site.
Guided bird and nature walks
110055 East Drive, Morongo Valley
(760) 363-7190
Wed, 7am Sept 4, 11, 18, 25

Whitewater Preserve
2,826 acres of riparian habitat surrounded by the San Gorgonio Wilderness. The preserve is situated in Whitewater Canyon and provides an important wildlife corridor between the San Bernardino Mts and Joshua Tree National Park.
9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd, Whitewater
2nd and 4th Tues, 8am Sept 10,24

San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society
Peak of Fall Migration Trips
San Diego Tijuana Estuary
Leader: Gene Cardiff (909) 875-5358
Sat, Sept 14 8am
East Mojave Migrant Traps
Leader: Steve Myers (951)634-9767
Sat, Sept 28 7am

San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society
SBVAS meets the 3rd Wed of each month at
7:30 pm in the San Bernardino Co Museum,
2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands
http://www.sbvas . net
Wed, Sept 18 7:30pm
Peter Bloom, renowned raptor expert will be
discussing “Migration Patterns of the Red Tailed
and Red Shouldered Hawks”

Coachella Valley Preserve
This 26,000 acre preserve consists of numerous
palm groves, sand dunes and canyons.
29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Road
Check for updated bird walks

The former residence of Walter and Leonore
Annenberg includes 9 acres of gardens “planted
like an Impressionist painting”. Desert wildlife and
birds find refuge in this beautiful place.
37977 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage
Most Thurs, Fri at 9:15 am, some require
preregistration and fee of $25,others free
Check for schedule

Special Audubon Society Speaker

San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society
SBVAS meets the 3rd Wed of each month at
7:30 pm in the San Bernardino Co Museum,
2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands
http://www.sbvas . net
Wed, Sept 18 7:30pm
Peter Bloom, renowned raptor expert will be
discussing “Migration Patterns of the Red Tailed
and Red Shouldered Hawks”

Spotlight on the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center

This non-profit center opened in 1995 with a mission to rehabilitate injured and orphaned birds with the ultimate goal to release them back in to the wild. Artificial wetlands and interconnecting ponds provide special habitat.

46500 Van Buren, Indio (760) 347-2647

Bird Walks are held the first Saturday of each month. Bonus: Cinnamon rolls after walk!

OCTOBER Calendar

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Wed, Oct 2,9,16,23,30 8am
Sat, Oct 19 8am(3rd Sat)

Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center
46500 Van Buren, Indio (760) 347-2647
Bonus: Cinnamon rolls after walk!
Sat, Oct 5 8am (1st Sat)

Living Desert
The Living Desert is both a zoo and botanical
garden and attracts wildlife as well as resident
and migrating birds. Adjoining the park is a 360
acre desert wilderness preserve.
47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert (760)346-5694
Members only bird walks – Meet at admissions
Thurs, Oct 10 7:30am (2nd Thurs)

Whitewater Preserve
Tues, Oct 8,22 8am (2nd and 4th Tues)

Trail of the Acorn
Sat, Oct 12 10am-2pm
 Idyllwild Nature Center

Birds of the Mojave Desert
Weekend birding workshop with Kurt Leuschner
Oct 11 – 13 (See Upcoming Events)

Birds at Anza-Borrego
Weekend birding workshop with Kurt Leuschner
Oct 25 – 27 (See Upcoming Events)

Condors at Bittercreek NWR
Trip organized by Los Angeles Audubon Society
Sat, Oct 26 (See Upcoming Events)

Birding Rally
Sponsored by American Birding Association
San Diego
Oct 12 – 18

San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society
San Bernardino County Museum
Steve Kaye, Sea and Sage Audubon member and
nature photographer will be presenting
“Why We Become Birders”
He will share stories behind his photographs and
give tips on taking better photos.

November 2013 Calendar

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Bird Walks
Wed, Nov 6,13,20 8am
Sat, Nov 16 8am

Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center Bird Walk
Sat, Nov 2 8am

Living Desert Members only bird walk
Thurs, Nov 14 7:30am

Whitewater Preserve
Tues, Nov 12,26 8am

“Palms to Pines Birding and Nature Trail” presented by Kurt Leuschner at the Rancho Mirage Library
Mon, Nov 4 2pm-3pm

“Backyard Birds” class at College of the Desert
To sign up, you must first be enrolled as a College of the Desert student.
It runs 3 consecutive Thursdays and includes 2 Saturday field trips.
Class: NR48A:Seminar Backyard birds
Thurs, Nov 7,14,21

Thanksgiving Bird Count
Pick any one hour period from one SINGLE spot
during Thanksgiving to observe birds. Send your
results to:
Dr. John Hewston
Natural Resources Building
Humboldt State University
Arcata, CA 95521
Email for more details:



The Central Valley Bird Club in Stockton will be
holding its annual birding festival.
There will be keynote speakers each night with
workshops and numerous guided bird trips
available during the day.
Keynote speakers and topics include -
Ed Harper and Ed Pandolfino
“Bird population trends in Central Valley”
Kimball Garrett
“Avian invaders of California”
Ted Beedy, Ed Pandolfino and Ted Hansen
“Birds of the Sierra Nevada”
To register and learn more, go to

December Bird Walks

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Wed, Dec 4,11,18 8am
Sat, Dec 21 8am

Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center
Sat, Dec 7 8am

Living Desert Members only birdwalk
Thurs, Dec 12 7:30am

Whitewater Preserve
Tues, Dec 10 8am


Save the dates for trips to the Salton Sea with Living Desert led by Kurt Leuschner
Jan 4, 17, 19


Thurs, Dec 26 9:15 – 10:45am
Tour of grounds of main estate by golf cart with Kurt Leuschner. Advanced sign up required. $25

Fri, Dec 27  9:15-10:15 am
Tour of gardens with Kurt Leuschner, Free

37977 Bob Hope Dr Rancho Mirage
(760) 328-2829


The Christmas Bird Count tradition is over 100 years old. Over a three week period between
Dec 14 – Jan 5, birdwatchers will submit their findings to the National Audubon Society.
The data collected helps scientists understand the bird populations across North America
during early winter. It is a lot of fun to know that you are contributing to the knowledge base
while having fun birdwatching with others. Some of the places where the counts will occur
include - Joshua Tree, Big Morongo, Idyllwild area Anza-Borrego, Salton Sea

 Check for groups you can join at  Events will be posted in November.


To report a rare bird, post a message at inlandcountybirds (subscribers only)
or email Tom Benson

Birds of Anza-Borrego

A weekend birding class is offered in Anza Borrego Desert at the Borrego Desert Nature Center on
Oct 25 – 27. It begins Friday at 7pm, and ends Sunday at 1pm.

We will caravan to various sites in and around Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – the largest state
park in California.The park offers a wide variety of different habitats and we will sample them all in
our search for Fall migrants and year round residents.


Course fee includes 1.5 quarter units from
UCR Riverside extension (noncredit fee available)

Contact Kurt with questions (760)776-7285 or email

Sign up at

Birds of the Mojave Desert - Birding Course

Birds of the Mojave Desert is a weekend birding course at the Desert Studies Center ZZYZX near the town of Baker.

The dates are Oct 11 – 13 (Begins Fri, 8pm, ends Sun 1pm)

We will carpool to various sites near Death Valley to search for Fall migrants and learn about their
ecology and conservation.

Course: Biologyx404.2
The course fee includes 2 quarter units from UCR Riverside extension (noncredit fee available)

Instructor : Kurt Leuschner, College of the Desert
Contact Kurt with questions (760)776-7285
Sign up at

Condors at Bittercreek National Wildlife Refuge - Birding Event

The 14,000 acre Bittercreek National Wildlife Refuge is located 10 miles west of Maricopa. The refuge is usually closed to the public so this is a great opportunity to view the condors with an expert. Joseph Brandt, California Condor biologist will lead the viewing and discussion of the reintroduction program.

To sign up and get more information, contact Los Angeles Audubon Society (323) 876-0202

Sat, Oct 26

News and Notes for Fall 2013

Please Renew Your Membership
Contributions from membership dues help
with newsletter costs as well as special donations.
This year, a donation was made to our local
audubon chapter – San Bernardino Valley
Audubon Society as well as to American Bird
Society to support saving Paton's Hummingbird
home in Patagonia, AZ. This place is frequented
by spectacular migrating birds including the Violet
crowned Hummingbird. Birders from all across
the US visit this special place.
To read more about acid etched glass used in
prevention of bird strikes to windows, go to
Optics4birding store is a good place to start.
Mark Leggett and James Kyle for their work on
the DCBC newletter this past year!
Bob and Judy Saunders
Aura Ranzau
Judy Coker
Is the solution in your feeder cloudy or yellow?
This is caused if the humidity is high. If this
occurs, it is time to clean the feeder and replace
the sugar solution.
Send your sightings to

Book Review

Birders – Tales of a Tribe
by Mark Cocker
For thirty years, Mark Cocker has been a member of a community of obsessed people
who sacrifice most of their spare time, a good deal of money, time with family, or even their
own lives to watch birds. Birders is a captivating invitation to join the “tribe” introducing its
rules, equipment, characters and even language such as “twitch”(spotting a rare bird) and
“bins”(binoculars). This book reveals the drama, thrills and swashbuckling excitement of bird
watching. It is a layman's invitation to share an unlikely obsession.
Review by Barbie Freeman

Above the Clouds

The San Jacinto Wilderness had 27,000 acres impacted by the
Mountain Fire in July. In August, the Silver Fire devastated 20,000 acres
at the northern edge of the wilderness. This was the scene from our
street the day we evacuated Idyllwild. Fortunately, the town was
spared as were many of our favorite hiking trails. However, the top of
the mountain where hikers like to camp and the PCT hikers traverse
will be closed for some time due to hazardous conditions such as
smoldering fires and trails that no longer exist.
With this in mind, we don't yet know how much of an impact this
will have on our wildlife. However, I can report that my backyard is full
of life. Some of the wildlife that I have seen include of
Mountain Quail, Black-headed Grosbeak, Red-breasted and
Williamson's Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Acorn
Woodpecker, fearless Mountain Chickadees, Nuttall's Woodpecker,
Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Nashville warbler,
Wilson's warbler, Steller's Jay, Western Tanager, Anna's Hummingbird,
Raven, Oregon Junco, Oak Titmouse, Northern Flicker, Merriam's
Chipmunks, Western Grey squirrels, coyotes, deer and more. Good
news! Come visit Idyllwild, this special town “Above the Clouds” this

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count will take place from February 15-18, 2013.  To join in all you need is a pair of binoculars and 15 minutes of your time.  Visit or to view the online bird guide and download a regional checklist.  After you've done your counting you can upload your sightings to the website.  Thanks for participating!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

San Bernardino Valley Audubon to speak in Palm Springs February 12, 2013

The San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society and the Desert Cities Bird Club are linking up in the Coachella Valley on Tuesday, February 12, 2013.   Brad Singer will speak on the topic of "Birding Hotspots in the Inland Empire".  The program is free and open to the public and will be held at the Palm Springs Public Library from 6-7:30pm.
Hope to see you there!

Pelican Days at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area January 18-20, 2013

Exciting bird-related events are happening at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area at North Shore, January 18-20, 2013.   It is the first annual "Pelican Days".   Fun for the whole family.   Fee$$
For more information check

Monday, September 17, 2012

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Christmas Bird Count

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve will hold its annual Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 15, 2012 starting at 7:30am and continuing through the afternoon. Join a team of birders and help us out! To participate or for more information call Betty Zeller at 760-363-7190. Hope to see you there.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Recent Bird Sightings

There is a Tricolored Heron at Salt Creek today, North End of the Salton Sea (NESS). The Purple Martins (adults with young) continue to be seen in Garner Valley - along Highway 74 on the left just after the turnoff to Lake Hemet and just before the turnoff to Hurkey Creek Campground. As you drive along Hwy. 74, look for a tall, dead, snag with holes near the top. Park at the Lake Hemet Road (NOT the Lake Hemet store) turnoff and carefully walk up Hwy. 74 toward Hurkey Creek Campground less than one tenth of a mile. Western Bluebirds were seen flying over the Living Desert today. Evidence of Common Poorwill found in a Palm Desert and a Barstow backyard this week. They may be on the move.

Desert Cities Bird Club is on Facebook!

Desert Cities Bird Club is on Facebook!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Arizona Field Ornithologists Meeting

The Arizona Field Ornithologists will be holding their annual meeting in Lake Havasu City,Arizona, October 26-28, 2012. There will be interesting talks on Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Southwestern Willow Flycatchers and field trips on both sides of the Colorado River. For more information and to register go to

Birding Opportunities this Fall in the Coachella Valley region

Get Out and Bird! Regularly Scheduled Area Birdwalks Big Morongo Canyon Preserve: bird & nature walks on Weds and Sats (7:00 a.m. Apr-Sept; 8:00 a.m. Oct – Mar) except none the first Sat of any month and no Sats at all in Sept. 11055 East Drive, Morongo Valley, CA. (760) 363-7190. Coachella Valley Preserve Most first three Thurs 7:45 a.m. Sept thru Apr. 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Rd, Thousand Palms, CA. For schedule call (760) 343-2733 or check website. Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center has a birdwalk on the first Sat of each month (Oct.-May) from 8:00-10:00 a.m. 46500 Van Buren St., Indio, CA. (760) 347-2647. The Living Desert has members-only birdwalks on the second Thurs of each month. Oct - May. Meet at the admissions gate at 7:30 a.m. for early admission. 47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA. (760) 346-5694 ext 82506. Whitewater Preserve Every second and fourth Tues. 8:00 a.m. all year. 9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd, Whitewater, CA. water.html (760) 325-7222. Fall Bird Classes Gearing Up There are several classes in the offing aimed at area birders. All are taught by Kurt Leuschner of College of the Desert. The Birds of Joshua Tree National Park—Sept 21-23, Joshua Tree National Park. Contact the Desert Institute at (760) 367-5535 for details. Birds of the Mojave Desert—Natural History & Conservation. Oct 12-14, Desert Studies Center at Zzyzx. Contact UCR Extension at (800) 442-4990 for particulars. Birds of Anza-Borrego—Oct 26-28, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Call UCR Extension at (800) 442-4990 for more information.

The Fall newsletter is out!

The Fall (Sept-Dec 2012) issue of "I'd Rather Be Birding", the newsletter of the Desert Cities Bird Club, has been published. If you'd like to receive a copy and/or join the Desert Cities Bird Club leave your email address as a comment to this post. Happy Birding!

Sunnylands Birdwalks

Sunnylands (part of the Annenberg estate) in Rancho Mirage, CA is now open to the public. Check out their website at Free birdwalks are usually led by Kurt Leuschner and the next three are scheduled for Oct. 12, Oct. 26, and Nov. 9, 2012. All fridays, starting at 9:15am and lasting about one hour. Hope to see you there!

Central Valley Birding Symposium this Fall

Central Valley Birding Symposium November 15-18, 2012 Stockton, California - Stockton Hilton There will be great workshops, speakers, field trips, and more at this annual event. If you are into birds and birding you should try to attend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Purple Martins are back!

After many years/decades of absence, Purple Martins are being seen again in Garner Valley near the bridge at the turnoff to Lake Hemet. Look for a dead snag with a hole or two in the top. Nesting is suspected but has not been confirmed yet. We hope they will stay and continue to return every year like they used to.

Like us on facebook!

The Desert Cities Bird Club now has a facebook page. Check it out and be sure to like us!

Our next newsletter will be out soon!

The Desert Cities Bird Club's "I'd Rather Be Birding" newsletter has a new editor and a new look. We also will be producing three issues per year, starting September 1, 2012. Watch for it! And if you haven't signed up yet, join our mailing list so you can stay informed about all of the birding activities in and around the Coachella Valley.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Earth Day Birdathon Century Run 2012

On Friday, May 4, from 7am-4pm, the Friends of the Desert Mountains will be sponsoring a birding bus tour. The cost is $50 per person. A student price is also available. We'll be travelling by luxury coach to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center, and the Salton Sea State Recreation Area in search of a minimum of 100 bird species. Your leader will be Kurt Leuschner. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Desert Mountains and bird conservation projects in the Coachella Valley. Come on out, have some fun, and support the birds! Snacks and water will be provided but bring your own lunch/drinks and plan for an exciting day of birding. To sign up call Tammy @ 760-568-9918.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Earth Day Birding Challenge

On April 23rd the 2nd Annual Earth Day Birding Challenge will benefit the Friends of the Desert Mountains. The Birdathon is more fun and friendly than competitive. At 10:00 there will be kids activities at The Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center, the Whitewater Visitor Center and at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor’s Center.

Date: Saturday, April 23, 2011, Midnight to Midnight
What is it? A friendly 24-hour birding competition/fundraiser to support Friends of the Desert Mountains to provide habitat for birds in the Coachella Valley.
What happens? Individuals or Teams compete to identify as many bird species as they can in a 24-hour period by sight or by sound in the four counties included in the Palms to Pines Birding and Nature Trail: Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, and San Diego.  ABA “Big Day” rules apply.
Awards Presentation: The winning trophy will be presented at 10: 00 a.m. on Sunday, April 24, at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center.
National Monument Visitor Center
51-500 Hwy 74, Palm Desert, CA 92260
(4 miles south of Hwy. 111)
Fun for all ages!  Novice or experienced bird watchers are encouraged to participate.  There will be children’s activities going on at various locations.  
Registration forms:
Friends of the Desert Mountains
P.O. Box 1281, Palm Desert, CA 92261
Fax: 760-568-9908

More details? Contact Tammy Martin at the Friends of the Desert Mountains office at (760) 568-9918 or email at

A literary note

The second annual Earth Day Birding Challenge is April 23rd! April 23 is also the birthday of William Shakespeare.  Mr. Shakespeare was pretty well acquainted with - among one or two other things - birds.  From Blackbird to Wren more than forty strut, twitter, shriek, sing and soar throughout his works!

Stylish new Desert Cities Bird Club caps available!

The new bird club caps are very high quality and really cool. Each features a very detailed embroidered bird on the front of the cap and the club name in small letters at the back.

Many species are available including the Barn Owl, Bals Eagle, Greater Roadrunner, California Condor, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Peregrine Falcon, Anna’s Hummingbird, Wood Duck, Gambel’s Quail and more. There is even a collared lizard! 

Be the first on your block to sport a DCBC cap, now available for only $15 each.

Contact Kurt to order by emailing


If you love hummingbirds, and who doesn't, don't miss Hummingbirds of the Southwest on March 18, Friday, 7-8 p.m. It is a free lecture by Kurt Leuschner on at Blackrock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park.  
For more information and for driving directions see
Sponsored by the Desert Institute.  

News and notes - Spring 2011

The Western Field Ornithologist meeting in Palm Desert was a big hit. The next meeting will be in Sierra Vista, Arizona August 17-21. Kurt will be coordinating field trips.

 ABA book sales are now at It is a great place to order bird books of all kinds. 

Field Glasses Anyone? there is a super place in Irvine called Optics for Birders 

Betty Zeller would like us to let everyone know that the Big Morongo bird walks change from 8am to 7am starting in April

Don’t miss the Morongo Valley Spring Festival March, 26, Saturday, 9-3,  All kinds of nature activities and bird walks.  Call the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve for more information  760-363-7190

An American Dipper has been spotted in Tahquitz Canyon Kurt went out to see it and he says it is “The first one I have seen south of the Sierra!”

Inca Doves have been residing in Heather Hurley’s yard in Indio for the second year in a row.

If you liked the recently released Guide to Golf Course Wildlife, you are going to love the new S. Cal Coastal guide as well as the Guide to Wildlife at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. They are all available now at Barnes and Noble as well as various visitor’s centers in the area.

If you have used field guides, wildlife magazines or other bird related things to donate, call (760) 349-3515 and we will arrange pick up.

Check our blog for the latest birding updates.

The Coachella Valley Preserve is home to the 2nd largest California Fan Palm oasis. Guided bird walks are ongoing through late Spring. Days vary, so call Mark Leggett at 760 699-5717 or CVP at 760 343-2733 for schedules and more.

The San Diego Bird Festival March 3-6 features desert, mountain, seashore and pelagic adventures.
Info: 619-682-7200  or

The Living Desert University has several classes that offer good birding this Spring:
Bird Walk at Smoke Tree Ranch offers a kaleidoscope of wildflowers a wonderful opportunity to observe many of our special desert bird species as they go about
their daily activities. Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. FEE$$
  The Big Morongo Canyon & Yucca Ridge Trek is a moderate 6 mile hike that promises numerous bird and reptile species as well as the native perennial wildflower shows. Tuesday, April 12, 2011 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. FEE$$ For Info and to sign up for either event call (760) 346-5694 

San Bernardino Valley Audubon is sponsoring a visit to the Mojave National Preserve in early spring with the goal of seeing the sought after specialty breeding birds of the area. These include Gilded Flicker, Juniper Titmouse, and Bendire's, Crissal, and Le Conte's Thrashers. Saturday-Sunday, April 2-3, 2011 call John Green (951) 686-2956
  Other Audubon Society trips include Whitewater
Canyon, Big Morongo and the Salton Sea.
Information is listed at

Thursday, March 03, 2011

March 2011 Calendar

March 2,9,16.23.30 Wednesday
8:00 a.m. Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Bird Walk

March 5 Saturday
8:00 a.m. Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center Walk

March 3-6 Thursday-Sunday
All Day San Diego Bird Festival

March 10 Thursday
7:30 -9:30 a.m Living Desert Members Only Bird Walk

March 12,19,26 Saturday
8:00 a.m Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Bird Walk

March 18 Friday
7-8 p.m. Hummingbirds of the Southwest at JTNP

March 26 Saturday
9:00-3:00 Morongo Valley Spring Festival

Birding opportunities abound!

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve has bird and nature
walks on Wednesdays and Saturdays except the first
Saturday of the month 8:00 a.m. (7:00 beginning in

Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center has a bird walk the
first Sat. each month at 8-10:00 a.m

The Living Desert members only bird walks on the
second Thursday of each month. October- May.
Joshua Tree National Park usually has bird walks at
Cottonwood Springs from Nov-May. For information call
JTNP (760) 367-5500

The Coachella Valley Preserve has weekly bird walks.
The days vary, so call (760) 343-2733 for information 

Birdlife of the Eastern Mojave - Spring Migration

Birdlife of the Eastern Mojave - Spring Migration is weekend birding course at the Zzyzx Desert Studies Center.
The weekend course begins with a Friday evening discussion on the diversity and natural history of birds in arid environments. On Saturday, participants visit oases at Baker, Salt Creek, Saratoga Springs (located in Death Valley National Park), and Tecopa Marsh. Casual hikes around the Desert Studies Center afford further opportunities to observe birds during early morning hours and at dusk. Beginners learn field observation and identification techniques. Experienced birders can expand their life lists. 

This Spring it is  offered April 15-17. Kurt Leuschner is the instructor. The course fee includes 2 nights
dormitory style lodging and 5 meals. It’s a great way to learn general desert natural history. All birding abilities are welcome.

Call UCR Extension at (800) 442-4990
or contact Kurt for non-credit enrollment at (760) 776-7285

Monday, February 21, 2011

San Diego Bird Festival

The San Diego Bird Festival March 3-6 features desert,
mountain, seashore and pelagic adventures.
Info: 619-682-7200 or