Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Plan to participate in the first annual Earth Day Birding Challenge on April 24, 2010
Please spread the word to your local birding community. Visit to sign up

Save the Date: Saturday April 24, 2010
Midnight to Midnight
What is it?
- A friendly 24-hour birding competition/fundraiser to support the Friends of the Desert Mountains, various Audubon Societies and Bird Clubs, Preserves, Parks, Conservancies and other conservation organizations throughout southern California
- 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.
- All competing teams report to the finish line at the Monument Visitor Center in Palm Desert between 6pm and midnight.
- Different competitive and non-competitive categories will be available such as: “sand to sea” (multiple counties – trophy category), “single county,” “single site,” “big sit” (one spot), “on foot”, “golf courses only”, and youth. Fun for all ages!
- All participants will pay a nominal entry fee and accept pledges to raise monies for their selected causes - ultimately benefitting wild birds and the habitats they live in! Youth are free.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Desert Mountains ( or call Tammy to sign up @(760) 568-9918)
and the Desert Cities Bird Club (

Create your own Backyard Wildlife Habitat!

To create a haven for wildlife in your own backyard you'll need to provide food (native plants preferable), water (a dripper is a must!) and shelter (birdhouses, shrubbery, brushpiles, etc). For lots of neat ideas contact the National Wildlife Federation who has certified thousands of backyard habitats throughout the United States.
go to: and click on "Certify Your Backyard"
or call 800-822-9919 for more information

Other organizations that certify backyard habitats, campuses, golf courses, or corporate properties include:

Audubon International

The United State Department of Agriculture

The Humane Society of the United States

Monday, January 19, 2009

spring 2009 newsletter is available

January 19, 2009
The Spring 2009 Desert Cities Bird Club "I'd Rather Be Birding" newsletter is hot off the press - watch for it in your mailbox or through email. It will also be posted on this blogspot:
happy birding!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Contact Information for various events

The Living Desert 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert (760) 346-5694

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve has bird & nature walks on Wednesdays and Saturdays except the first Sat. of the Month 11055 East Drive, Morongo Valley for info call Dee Zeller at (760) 363-7190 Morning birding start time is usually 8:00, changing to 7:00 beginning in April.

Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center has a bird walk on the first Saturday of each month from 8-10:00 a.m.
46500 Van Buren St., Indio (760) 347-2647

College of the Desert birding and desert naturalist classes. Contact Kurt Leuschner at (760) 776-7285

The Desert Cities Bird Club 70065 Sonora Road #267, Mountain Center, CA 92561 (760) 349-3515

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park (760) 367-5535

Joshua Tree National Park sometimes has bird walks at Cottonwood Springs from Nov-May. For information call JTNP (760) 367-5500

The Living Desert members only bird walks on the second Thursday of each month. October- May. Meet at the admissions gate at 7:30 a.m. for early admission. 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert call (760) 346-5694 ext. 82506

San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society (SBVAS) offers a full schedule of activities spanning the calendar from now through July fo 2009. Many of their field trips are held close to our area. Check out their website(s) and to find the event of interest to you. (909) 875-5358.

Ethiopia Study Tour November 2007 by Kurt Leuschner

Since 1996 I have been involved with Audubon's Population and Habitat Campaign - an international effort to call attention to disappearing habitats for birds and other wildlife due to human expansion. And so it was that in November 2007 a group of 10 grass-roots advocates (including myself) from the National Audubon Society and the Sierra Club were selected to participate in a 10 day study tour of Ethiopia – one of the poorest and most over-populated countries in Africa and the world. During the tour we attended a three day conference on Population, Health, and the Environment (PHE) held at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa. A journalist and photographer from Sierra magazine also accompanied us to document the trip (see the July-Aug 2008 issue of Sierra magazine).
Study tour participants represented at least 8 different states and for many it was their first time in Africa. For me it was my 12th visit to Africa – but first to Ethiopia – a country that has always fascinated me. I had heard about the PHE issues facing Ethiopia, but now I had the opportunity to see things for myself.
After settling into our hotel, we spent the first week visiting a variety of community projects in and around Addis Ababa. All of the projects we visited provided some sort of family planning services (education, counseling, contraceptives, etc.) and some included basic health care and hygiene (one even had a public health clinic). Special emphasis was put on AIDS, which is prevalent in East Africa although declining somewhat in Ethiopia.
We also heard stories of female empowerment and testimonies from young women who no longer practice female circumcision. Opportunities for young girls to attend school were being provided through scholarships, and micro-credit schemes combined with basic computer skills were helping women supplement their income. In one particular project women were weaving used plastic bags into colorful earrings, purses, trivets, etc. to sell in a shop in town. Traditional pottery was being made from recycled clay. These women are literally turning trash into treasure! We bought as much as we could carry.
Still other women we met were being taught basic gardening skills including the use of drip irrigation to water an urban farm, composting, bee-keeping, and diversified gardening to provide a healthier, balanced diet for their families. Tree planting (desperately needed in Ethiopia – where over 90% of the country is deforested) was also being encouraged with seeds and seedlings that were provided to get things started.
Most of the projects we visited were funded by USAID (your tax dollars at work) or by other non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) working with USAID such as the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. As we learned at the PHE conference there are countless other NGO’s hard at work in Ethiopia and in East Africa in general. The scientists, researchers, staff and volunteers working for these NGO’s are involved in a variety of projects that are benefiting communities of people and the surrounding environment – including habitat for declining wildlife. The idea of PHE brings all the interested parties together in a synergistic way that individual projects (addressing only one issue at a time), cannot.
Ultimately the goal of each PHE project is to become self-sustaining (= “capacity building”) an/or have the Ethiopian government take over any necessary funding and management in order to free up donor funds for other, much-needed endeavors in the region. Unfortunately, funding for foreign aid programs such as these that support family planning, reproductive health, and PHE is being severely reduced (or cut altogether in the case of President Bush’s annual blockage of UNFPA funds). This is occurring at a time when even more help is desperately needed. Through awareness of the issues of overpopulation and its effects on people’s health and the environment, we can reverse this trend and help the PHE message spread to other parts of the world. Action is needed and your efforts can make a difference.