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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Climate Change Engagement

Montana de Oro
Morro Coast Audubon Society is helping build a coalition of climate change concerned citizens on the Central Coast, and we want you to be a part of it. 

By leaving your information in our Climate Change Engagement form, you will be alerted to climate change issues and will be connected with hundreds of other SLO County residents who are ready to take action against climate change. 

Some of the species in SLO county impacted by climate change
Recent research conducted by the National Audubon Society shows that 314 bird species, nearly half of the bird species in North America, are severely threatened by climate change. If we are to help mitigate the changes in their habitat and migratory routes that will result from climate change, we must take action now. 

Fighting climate change can feel like an isolated battle, but it doesn't have to be. By joining together, we can create impactful change in our local community and stay alert to important policy changes at all levels of government. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Hands down, the rarest bird found in February was an adult, breeding plumage Sabine’s Gull photographed at Atascadero Lake on 21 Feb (A&P.Vaughan†). This gull is a regular offshore spring and fall migrant, but is completely unexpected along the Pacific Coast in February. An adult Heermann’s Gull, also at the lake the same day (T.Edell†), provided only the second county record east of the Santa Lucia Range. It’s likely the occurrence of these two gulls was tied to recent storm conditions, especially the unusually strong winds. Checking lakes and beaches during and right after stormy conditions can often turn up unexpected species. Another species that can appear onshore in stormy weather is Black-legged Kittiwake. Two to three were found along the North Coast, one at San Simeon Creek on 13 and 24 Feb (K.Kent†,T.Edell†) and another at Arroyo del Corral on 25 Feb (P&J.Clayton†). Also at Arroyo de Corral were a second-winter (25-26 Feb - P&J.Clayton†) and first-winter (26 Feb – R.Zachary†) Glaucous Gull, a Cattle Egret on 25 Feb (P&J.Clayton†), and two immature Snow Geese 13-27 Feb (K. Kent†).

Estero Bluffs State Park, and especially the Villa Creek area, had some interesting birds. Of the 18 Hooded Mergansers reported in Feb, 14 were on a private pond just north of the State Park on 27 Feb (T. Edell). A Greater White-fronted Goose was at Villa Creek mouth 13-15 Feb (K.Kent†) and a presumed White-faced Ibis flying toward the creek mouth on 4 Feb was one of two observed that day, the other at San Simeon Creek (B.Bouton). Though seen on different dates, the two females and one male Harlequin Duck continued through the month (mob) along the Estero Bluffs shoreline. At least one Mountain Bluebird remained along the coast (where rare in winter) at Harmony Headlands State Park on 1 Mar (T.Edell†). An intergrade female Yellow/Red-shafted Northern Flicker was also at the Harmony Headlands on 11 Feb (T. Edell†).

The most interesting new bird along the south coast was the first Red-necked Grebe ever recorded at Oso Flaco Lake on 11 Feb (K.Rusch†). The Dusky-capped Flycatcher at Meadow Creek in Pismo Beach remained a South County highlight and was reported through 27 Feb (W.Knowlton†), while the Bullock’s Oriole wintering there was last seen on 9 Feb (K.Zimmer). The first-winter Glaucous Gull with an injured leg, initially found at the Arroyo Grande Town Center in Dec, was again seen at Meadow Creek on 27 Feb (W.Knowlton†). The Palm Warbler at Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground was last reported on 3 Feb (S.Goodchild). Present for its second winter, an adult male Red-naped Sapsucker continued along the Bob Jones Trail at the Avila Beach Golf Course maintenance area through 28 Feb (many observers=mob†).

Two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers remained through February, one the first-winter male at El Chorro Regional Park (mob†) and the other an adult male in the North County at Santa Margarita Lake on 25 Feb (J.Surbey,S.Mingo†). Other unusual North County birds included both the continuing “gray-headed” Dark-eyed Junco present all month at the same Atascadero residence where a rare-this-winter Pine Siskin was found on 19 Feb (R.Zachary†). A “slate-colored” Dark-eyed Junco on 24 Feb and at least one Chipping Sparrow 12-27 Feb (K.Kent†) were at Heritage Ranch. A wintering male Costa’s Hummingbird continued at an Atascadero residence through at least 10 Feb (R.Derevan).

The only new rarity from around the Morro Bay Estuary was an altivagans type Fox Sparrow at a Morro Bay residence on 16 Feb (K.Perry†). Otherwise there were many continuing winter rarities, the most unusual being the Bay-breasted Warbler in Los Osos through 27 Feb (R.Zachary†). Close by at the north end of Pecho Road, the wintering Eastern Phoebe was still present on 8 Mat (J.Royer). Around the bay all month were up to two Greater White-fronted Geese, an adult and two immature Snow Geese, and two male Eurasian Wigeon (all mob). The Red-necked Grebe that was first reported in late-Oct remained until at least 15 Feb (A&R.O’Donnell). Rare on Morro Bay, a female Common Merganser continued near the harbor mouth on 17 Feb (T.Edell). This was a good winter along the SLO coast for orioles, the last reported being a Bullock’s Oriole at a Pecho Road feeder on 25 Feb (J.Carroll).

A few more odds-and-ends. Four Snow Geese that wintered at Laguna Lake were last seen from Foothill Road on 5 Feb (W.Knowlton†). Eight White-winged Scoters observed between Cayucos and San Simeon included a high count of five off Cayucos on 19 Feb (D.Long). A lone male Redhead was at Whale Rock Reservoir on 23 Feb (K.Perry†).

Lastly, a couple of our first spring arrivals. An adult Pigeon Guillemot at the San Simeon Pier on 27 Feb (M.Smith) and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow at Santa Margarita Lake on 23 Feb (T. Edell) were earliest first-of-season reports at known breeding sites. More to come in March!

The symbol † indicates a report was documented with a photo. For seasonal status and distribution information about birds mentioned in this report, consult the Morro Coast Audubon publication “The Birds of San Luis Obispo County, California”, eBird at the following link , or contact me at For information on birding locations, including those mentioned above, consult the Morro Coast Audubon Bird Finding Guide at ….Tom Edell

Saturday, March 25, 2017


WHAT: Western Snowy Plover
WHEN: Monday, April 17th
WHERE: SLO Botanical Garden Oak Glen Pavilion in El Chorro Park
PRESENTER: Regina Orr, Environmental Scientist with California State Parks

The Western Snowy Plover is a small sand- colored shorebird that lives and breeds on beaches along the West Coast. You may already appreciate this small bird, but many people are unaware of its existence, even when it is practically at their feet! Human activity has caused it to become a Threatened species. National Audubon has also categorized it as Climate Threatened; it is projected to lose more than 50% of its winter range by 2080. Though it is fairly abundant locally, elsewhere it is hanging on for survival. Come learn about the plover, their habits, current status, and efforts to protect them.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Regena began working for California State Parks in 1995. As an Environmental Scientist, she currently manages the Western Snowy Plover program for State Parks in the Morro Bay area, which has the largest breeding population of snowy plovers in the State Park System.

Prior to the program, there will be a short membership meeting to elect MCAS Board members for the upcoming term

Drinks and snacks will be provided courtesy of MCAS. Please bring your own cup or mug. All MCAS Community Programs are free and open to the public.  As always, all ages are welcome.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Audubon Convention 2017

Elevating Audubon: 
America’s Most Effective Conservation Network

Join us at Park City, Utah, July 14-17, 2017, for Audubon’s biennial convention. You won’t want to miss this opportunity for learning, networking, collaborating – and birding!

Designed to bring together Audubon’s vast network of dedicated chapter, state, national, and international leaders from across all four flyways, this can’t miss event will include an array of inspiring speakers, in-depth workshops and discussions, exciting field trips and birding adventures (Utah has more than 450 bird species), and the camaraderie and networking opportunities that only the Audubon Convention can provide.

Learn more at

Monday, March 13, 2017

Birding By Ear

What: Field Trip with Jessica Griffiths
When: April 1st (no joking)
Where: Oso Flaco Lake

RSVP REQUIRED: Trip limited to 15 participants!

"Birding By Ear" is back again by popular demand! Join Jessica Griffiths for a bird walk focusing on bird songs and calls. She will ID all of the bird songs heard, as well as presenting helpful tips and mnemonic devices for remembering who sings what.

For trip specifics (DIRECTIONS, START TIME), and to RSVP, contact Jan 
Surbey, MCAS field trips char, at