Contact MCAS

Click to contact MCAS Board Members and Chairs. Photo: Dave Tyra

Birds of SLO County.

Follow this link to read or download SLO County checklists. 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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

MCAS Community Program: The Salton Sea

What: The Salton Sea: A New Vision And Why It Is So Important To Birds
Where: SLO Botanical Garden Oak Glen Pavilion in El Chorro Regional Park, Dairy Creek Road across from Cuesta College

Presented by Andrea Jones, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon California.

For more info about Andrea, listen to recording and read short article, "Andrea Jones is fighting for the Salton Sea," at 

All MCAS programs are free and open to the public and, as always, all ages are welcome.  Refreshments will be provided. Please bring your own mug/cup.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Hello All,
The Carrizo Plain CBC was held last Saturday, December 31, 2016. The weather was variable depending on where you were in the count circle. The temperatures ranged from 47-38 degrees. I thought it would warm up after I arrived at 7 a.m. but it didn’t. The winds were from calm to 25 mph SE. The cloud cover was mixed from short periods of sunshine, broken clouds, foggy, drizzle, rain, slush, and faint snow. Forty-two birders joined in the count. The total species count was 60 with 2 count week birds. We usually get totals from 55-75 species. 
Local birds of interest seen on count day included Rough-legged Hawk, Golden Eagle, Mountain Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Greater Roadrunner, Long-eared and Short-eared Owl, Mountain Bluebird, Le Conte’s Thrasher, Sage Thrasher, Phainopepla, Vesper Sparrow, and Bell’s Sparrow (just to name a few). 
When I finish inputting the data on Audubon CBC site you can view the summary bird list. The date for the 2017 Carrizo Plain CBC will be December 30th.
Thanks to all the participants for a successful and fun day of birding!
Happy Birding in 2017.
Roger Zachary
Carrizo Plain CBC Compiler

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT - Preliminary Results

It will be a while before the count results are compiled, so here is a brief rundown on the results.
Last night at the compilation potluck we tallied 199 species.  There are a few species that still need documentation, which means we may add, but are unlikely to subtract from that total.  Since 1980 the average number of species recorded on the count is 198.6. 
Not a lot of rarities this year, therefore the total is a continuing indication of the variety of habitats found in the circle that includes our jewel, Morro Bay. 

Highlights from last night’s compilation are:
Long-tailed Duck – north of Morro Rock
Black Vulture – first time recorded on count day!
Bald Eagle – recorded on less than ten counts, all recently
Marbled Murrelet – seen from the bluffs at Montana de Oro State Park
Ancient Murrelet – seen from the bluffs at Montana de Oro State Park 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Santa Rosa Park, San Luis Obispo
Eastern Phoebe – one in the trees at the north end of Pecho Road, and one along SLO Creek between Bianchi Ln and Madonna Rd
Common Raven – recorded on less than tens counts, seems to be increasing in the count circle
Barn Swallow – once unexpected, now a few around most winters
Black-and-white Warbler – one in willows at the Doris Ave marsh adjacent to Cuesta Inlet, Los Osos
Nelson’s Sparrow – one at an unusual location along Quintana Road, Chorro Flats
Grasshopper Sparrow – two in Morro Bay SP east of South Bay Blvd, one in the South Hills Open Space, SLO
Bullock’s Oriole – one at a feeder in Los Osos
Other rare or sometimes missed, but regular species included Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Fulmar, Black-vented Shearwater, Green Heron, Thayer’s Gull, Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet, Greater Roadrunner, Spotted Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Yellow-billed Magpie, Wilson’s Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, and Tricolored Blackbird.
Count week continues through Tuesday. We could still use a Western Screech Owl if anyone hears one in the count circle. Other misses in the circle include White-winged Scoter, Mountain Quail, Wandering Tattler, Northern Pygmy Owl, Long-eared Owl, Mountain Bluebird, Nashville, Black-throated Gray, and Hermit Warbler. 
Thanks to everyone that participated and to our very competent team that helped pull this all together.  More to come later when the final numbers are tallied.

Tom Edell
Count Compiler
Cayucos, CA

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sweet Springs History

SWEET SPRINGS HISTORY - to be continued...

  • Archeological artifacts indicate the area where Sweet Springs is located was originally settled by the Chumash as early as 500 AD and lived there through the late 1700s.

  • The area was subsequently “discovered” by the Spaniard Captain Gaspar de Portola on the ‘Sacred Expedition’ from Mexico through San Diego to Upper California. From 1769 to 1770.

  • A map of “The Town of Sunshine Beach” was filed with the County Recorder’s office by Norman Harrison and D.R. Oliver in 1893 and depicts a number of lots terminating where Sweet Springs central and east are located. The subdivision was never developed.

  • There may have been other interim players, but Walter Redfield was an early real estate developer who saw potential in what bankers at the time apparently viewed as “useless sagebrush land.” He purchased 3000 lots in 1919 in what is currently Baywood / Los Osos / Cuesta By The Sea, and sold many of them for ten dollars each. Sweet Springs was likely a part of Redfield’s holdings. He also acquired an interest in 340 acres of eucalyptus trees in 1925 on the corner of Los Osos Valley Road and Pecho Road.

  • Richard Stuart Otto was another real estate developer and engineer at the time that purchased some of Redfield’s lots. He is the one who came up with the name Baywood Park, and started developing it in 1924. He planted over 20,000 trees by his own account – primarily cypress and Monterey pine – mostly lining the streets. I spoke with his widow Shirley Otto and she had no recollection of who planted the trees on Sweet Springs, but indicated her husband never planted any eucalyptus trees.

  • Other owners of the property apparently included Charles Ferrell, who owned 220 acres, including Sweet Springs, and is credited with building the “Duck Inn” around 1920.

    According to an interview with Emma Ferrell by Joan Sullivan before she passed away, the Ferrells planted the cypress.

    In 1921 William & Lydia Mickle, Canadian farmers, purchased 18 acres from the Ferrells including central and east Sweet Springs and continued to operate the Duck Inn.

    In 1948 Henry Bumpus purchased the 18 acres and in 1972 sold the eastern parcel to Jan & Tom Corr who attempted to donate the eastern preserve for a library at one point, but encountered community opposition.

    In 1948 Harold & Orlien Broderson purchased Sweet Springs central and are credited with excavating the ponds for irrigating a potato farm nearby.

    In 1957 Morro Palisades Company purchased land including the central and west preserve. They developed the mobil home park in the late 1960s and applied for permits to build a hotel on Sweet Springs in 1981. After encountering considerable resistance from the community, they abandoned their plans and decided to donate the 24 acres comprising Sweet Springs central & west to the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) in 1985.

    In 1989 the SCC, in turn, donated the land to the Morro Coast Audubon Society.

Thursday, November 3, 2016



December 17th

The past few Christmas Bird Counts resulted in the most participants and highest bird counts in recent memory.  Thank you to all who participated.  The Count needs your participation in December 2016 to match or exceed those results.

We're hoping all of you who participated last year will return and that the many new birders in our area will sign up too. The count is a fun and very worthy endeavor and coverage of all the sectors is crucial. 

The 2016 Annual Count and Potluck Dinner will be conducted by MCAS on December 17, 2016.

Please circle and save the date!

The more sighters/counters enrolled, the better the chances to achieve a good count and maintain our high nationally-accredited standing.  The count is part of a continent-wide, citizen-science effort, with the published results used to assess the distribution and population of wintering birds; assessing the health of bird populations and helping guide conservation action.

You do not need to be an Audubon member and there is no signup fee this year, but you do need to register. 

For those who live within the circle and have bird feeders, we encourage you to register and do a feeder watch. 

We conclude the day with a festive potluck meal beginning at 6PM and with the exciting count down of all species seen. 

Please sign up early if you can, or at least by Nov 26 so that our area leaders can assign participants to the sectors when they meet on 11/27. Area leaders will contact everyone with more info soon after this meeting so birders can scout their sections before the count.

Go here for information on registration, maps, history and much more:  

After visiting the website, if you still have questions contact:

Count Coordinator (how it works questions):
Maggie Smith

Count Registrars (registration questions):
Bert and Elaine Townsend