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