MCAS' Local Destinations

Click to read about MCAS birding locations like the 4th Street Overlook and Sweet Springs Preserve. Photo: Dave Tyra

Birds of SLO County 2013.

Follow this link to see the slideshow. Photo: Teddy Llovet

MCAS Birding Guides

Follow this link to discover our trove of SLO County birding guides. Photo: Maggie Smith

Field Trips!

Click to read about MCAS field trips. Photo: Paul Andreano

MCAS Community Programs

Click to read about monthly MCAS community programs. Photo: Al Schmirer

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Birding around Morro Rock Field Trip - Thursday, December 18th

Join leaders Neil Gilbert and Jan Surbey for this rather spontaneous trip from 8-10AM on Thursday, December 18th.

Meet at the restrooms in the Rock parking lot and plan to walk an easy, slow mile or so around the Rock and Boardwalk.

No RSVP needed; all ages and experience levels welcome.  

For more information, contact Jan Surbey, MCAS field trip

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Harmony Headlands State Park Field Trip - Friday, November 28th

Would you rather be birding than shopping? Join leaders Steve Griffith, Jay Carroll, and sidekick Jan Surbey in turning “Black Friday” into “Bird Friday”. Carpooling is encouraged since there is limited parking on-site. Meet near the Main Street entrance in the southwest corner of Spencer’s Fresh Market parking lot in Morro Bay at 7:30AM, or on-site at 8:00AM. The park is located about a 5 minute drive north of Cayucos, 2.6 miles south of Harmony (look for the Linn’s sign if approaching from the south), on the west side of Highway 1.

Trip includes about 3 miles (round trip) of moderate hiking (some hills) through grasslands and coastal scrub to ocean views. A portable restroom is available along the trail. Target bird species include raptors, songbirds, seabirds, and waterfowl.  

The trip should conclude by late morning; bring water, snacks and dress in layers. Rain cancels.  

No RSVP needed; for additional information, contact Jan Surbey, MCAS Field trip chair:

Friday, November 21, 2014

2014 Carrizo Plain CBC Information

The Carrizo Plain CBC will be on January 3, 2015. Registration must be submitted by December 15. The Carrizo Plain Christmas Bird Count is on a different day than the SLO County CBC, and our local birders are encouraged to participate in both counts. both are free this year. Registration for the Carrizo CBC s less formal and can be done by emailing contacting Roger Zachary at or (805) 466-6222

We will meeting at the Community Center/Fire Station on Soda Lake Road at 8:00 a.m. There is no fee. We usually break the group into 7-8 parties in the morning then re- group at 1 p.m. for lunch and to check the number of species observed. We may be assigning section leaders for those who are dedicated and knowledgeable of certain areas. Bring your own food/ water and come with a full tank of gas. Several parties bird the afternoon depending on what we need to find or confirm. We're looking forward to a productive count as well as a great day of birding.

If you are an experienced birder and know the area please email or call me to let me know that you are participating by no later than Dec. 15.

Roger Zachary,
or (805) 466-6222

CBC Materials to Download

Forms and Checklists

Sector descriptions (download .pdf) or (download .docx)
Descriptions of each MCAS CBC sector and what species to look for once you're there.

2014 Christmas Bird Count Checklist (download .pdf) or (download .docx)
* Updated December 14, 2014. Suggestion: Print page one of checklist, turn the paper over and print page two to make a tri-fold checklist.

Rare Bird Report Form (download .pdf) or (download .docx)
This form is needed for any bird not on the checklist, and birds marked on the checklist with an asterisk.

2014 Target Birds Species to watch for on count day (download .pdf) or (download .docx)
* Updated December 18, 2014. This is the final update.


Google Earth MCAS CBC circle map with sector descriptions (download .kml)

Garmin MCAS CBC circle map with sector descriptions for your GPS unit (download .gpx)

Smartphone Apps

Count Circle for iPhone ($2.99) (download from iTunes) CBC mapping app

Count Circle for Android ($2.99) (download from Google Play) CBC mapping app

Audubon Birds for iPhone ($14.99) (download from iTunes) has eBird integration and field guides

Audubon Birds for Android ($3.99) (download from Google Play) has eBird integration and field guides

Audubon Birds - California for Android ($2.99) (download from Google Play) has eBird integration and California field guides

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pelicans in Peril. . . A Call to Action

One would not think that our coastal fish-cleaning stations would be a threat to wildlife, but that is exactly what’s happening at the facility on the Harford Pier in Avila Beach, and other locations on the central coast.

Our beloved brown pelican is in danger, and juvenile pelicans are especially vulnerable. These birds are no longer fed by their parents and are expected to switch to “plunge-diving” for food, this takes time and patience. Instead, some pelicans learn to linger around fish-cleaning stations looking for, easy to find, scraps of food left by fishermen. In the process these birds get covered with fish oil that coats their feathers and compromises their ability to insulate themselves from the cold ocean water. The bird’s core body temperature lowers, they avoid the water, and they begin shivering. This deadly cycle continues as they stop feeding naturally and seek handouts from humans to survive.

A deadly handout that pelicans find at poorly designed fish-cleaning stations is fish carcasses and other large fish parts tossed to them, or thrown into the ocean water. The hungry pelicans try to eat these, but can’t. Their throats and pouches aren’t built that way. Pelican pouches are designed to scoop up slippery sardines and anchovies that slide down their throats. But, foot-long rockfish spines, and other large fish parts, are razor sharp which can puncture pelican’s internal organs or get caught in their pouches.

So, what can we do to prevent the needles suffering and death of these incredible birds?

First, our central coast fish-cleaning stations, which are outdated and wildlife unfriendly, must be modified. Second, we must do a better job of public outreach at our coastal marinas and piers regarding proper handling of fish waste. Third, we must let our local authorities know that we want changes made to protect our wildlife. It would seem that both our local and state authorities would want to promote sound fish waste management to protect our coastal environment – let them know that they should!

Please contact the Port San Luis Harbor Commission and let them know that you care. Now is the time to be heard!

Port San Luis Harbor Commission
3950 Avila Beach Drive
P.O. Box 249 
Avila Beach, CA 93424
(805) 595-5400

As always, stay alert and be involved.
- Douglas Tait, MCAS Conservation Chair

Sunday, November 2, 2014

December Work Party at Sweet Springs Preserve

Hello Volunteers! We'll be hosting another volunteer work party at Sweet Springs Preserve to continue the important work that has already been done by all you wonderful folks that have come out to support local conservation and restoration.

Depending upon the number of people that come out, we'll try to tackle multiple projects. First priority will be to enhance the boundary fence in East Sweet Springs, to help prevent trespass and resource damage that has occurred there as a result of unauthorized entry through that fence.

We would also like to continue control of veldt grass in East Sweet Springs, and begin work controlling invasive English ivy at the 4th Street Overlook. Drinking water will be provided. Please wear sturdy clothes you don't mind getting dirty, including a sun hat and close-toe shoes, and bring work gloves.

We'll meet at 9:00am, at the main entrance to Sweet Springs on Ramona Avenue, and work until at least noon. I hope you can make it out to help, and I look forward to the privilege of working side-by-side with you to enhance and restore the gem that is Sweet Springs Preserve.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why Audubon California supports Proposition 1 (and you should, too)

Even before California entered its third straight year of this brutal drought, California birds were suffering from poor water management and infrastructure.
• Central Valley refuges, the last strongholds of wetland habitat in the valley, were not getting the water promised to them by Congress in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.  
• Funding has decreased for the types of habitat restoration and wildlife conservation that benefit birds that have been provided by a series of parks and conservation bonds.  
• State’s system for water delivery (including levies) was inadequate and crumbling. This put habitat at risk, just as it threatened every other sector of the state.  California’s $7.12 billion water bond (Prop. 1) contains numerous benefits for birds and habitat
throughout California.  
• Explicitly allocates $475 million in funding for priority bird habitat in Salton Sea, Klamath, and Central Valley refuges (funding for Central Valley Project Improvement Act refuge water).  
• Includes almost an additional $1 billion for watershed protection, restoration, and habitat improvements.  
• Includes funding for all of the conservancies throughout the state and the Wildlife Conservation Board--the principal land acquisition and restoration sponsors in the state.  
• Makes critical investments in Delta habitat, through Department of Fish and Wildlife and Delta Conservancy, that will greatly benefit birds and ensures that bond funds cannot be spent on projects such as tunnels or canals described in the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.  
• Provides critical statewide watershed conservation funding in an environment where funds for conservation are diminishing.  
• Will improve water quality and make supply more reliable – which is critically important for the environment and for birds. 

With 170 California birds specifically threatened by global warming, the water bond provides
critical funding for projects that will help our birds adapt to a warmer climate.

Like many conservation groups, we are concerned about the $2.7 billion set aside for water storage,
including potential new dams.
• None of the funds are earmarked for specific projects and the funds can be spent on projects such as off-stream reservoirs and groundwater storage, which are much more environmentally sounds and fiscally viable than new dams.  
• All bond-funded projects—including potential new dams—must undergo full environmental review, giving Audubon and our allies opportunities to challenge ecologically-dangerous projects.  
• No bond-funded projects—including potential dams—can threaten the quality of rivers protected by the federal Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. 
Proposition 1 Overview 
Proposition 1 was passed as AB 1471. The numbers in parenthesis refer to specific sections of the bill. The bill’s full text is available at:
Specifically with regard to wildlife and habitat benefits, Proposition 1 provides:
• Funds for rivers and watersheds: 1,495,000 – protecting rivers and watersheds (§ 79730)
o $475 million to pay for California’s obligations under several laws, contracts, and  agreements to provide water to environmental projects including the Klamath Basin, at least 19 wildlife refuges in the Central Valley, the San Joaquin restoration efforts and the Salton Sea. (§ 79736)  
o $325.5 million in funds for watershed habitat improvements to be distributed to conservancies throughout the state; many of these funds will provide for grants for restoration efforts, which may provide funding opportunities for Audubon chapters and  allied organizations. (§ 79731)  
o $285 million to DFW for restoration throughout California (§ 79737)
Emphasis on coastal fishery benefits Prohibits use of funds on Delta conveyance . 
o $87.5 million to DFW for restoration in the Delta (§ 79738). Specifically prohibits using funds to mitigate for BDCP projects.
The bond also includes: 
• Dams and Other Storage: $2.7 billion for new storage projects that include dams, surface storage, and groundwater storage. Dam projects are only included in the 2008 CalFed Record of Decision (§ 79750)
o Funded projects must provide measurable ecosystem benefits to the Delta and affected tributaries (§ 79752)
o Requires full environmental review.(§ 79753(b))
o Requires 75% commitment of nonpublic cost-share (§ 79757(a)(3)) 
• Clean Drinking Water Projects: $520 million for clean drinking water (§ 79720)
o $260 million to reduce storm water pollution, with emphasis on disadvantaged communities (§ 79723)
o $260 million for water infrastructure improvements to provide clean water (§ 79724) 
• Drought and Water Security Preparedness: $810 million for regional water security and preparedness for drought and climate change (§ 79740)  
• Water Recycling & Treatment: $725 million for water recycling and advanced treatment (§ 79765)  
• Groundwater Cleanup: $900 million specifically for groundwater contamination cleanup and security. (§ 79771)  
• Flood Management: $395 million for flood risk reduction and management (§ 79780)
o Up to $295 million for levees in the Delta 

To discuss your questions or concerns about Proposition 1 with Audubon California, please contact Mike Lynes, Director of Public Policy, at or (916) 737-5707 x. 102

Click here for an Audubon FAQ sheet on CA Proposition 1

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Monday Oct. 20th - Dave Keeling Presents: Best Bird Photos of 2013 Part 2

7pm @ El Chorro Park, SLO Botanical Garden Oak Glen Pavilion (across from Cuesta College)

Dave Keeling will again coordinate this annual event, one of MCAS's most well attended annual programs! The presentation will consist of beautiful images of birds photographed in our county in 2013 by many of our finest local nature photographers.

A reception to meet the photographers will precede the program at 6:30pm. Guitarists Jack Collins and Bob Clark will accompany the presentation.

Refreshments will be provided, please bring your own mug.