2021 Sweet Springs Breeding Bird Survey Complete


L to R: Jay Carroll, Joanne Aasen, Judy Neuhauser, Mark Mushkat, Max Taylor, Zack Fenske, Kaaren Perry

The eighth year of our breeding bird surveys at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve began on March 7 and was completed on June 27, 2021. Volunteer members of Morro Coast Audubon conducted the surveys. The volunteers who participated this year were: Joanne Aasen, Jay Carroll, Zach Fenske, Mark Mushkat, Judy Neuhauser, Kaaren Perry, and Max Taylor. Those listed each participated in at least two of the nine bi-weekly surveys. 

Purpose: The main goal of these surveys is to count and identify the species of birds that are using the Preserve for breeding purposes, as well as to note those which may use the Preserve habitats for foraging during the breeding season.

Area: The Preserve was divided into three survey sections of approximately equal area, including the eastern section which was opened to the public in November 2017. Each area was surveyed for 30 minutes, using a modified Point Blue Bird Conservation Science area-search protocol.

Frequency: The three sections were all surveyed in a single morning. The census was conducted every two weeks, beginning in early March and ending in late June.

Data: We counted 1,524 birds comprising 66 species during the 2021 study period. Based on our survey data, twenty-one species (31.8%) were confirmed breeders and another four (6.1%) were probable breeders within the Sweet Springs property boundaries. We made special note of any indications of breeding behavior including territorial singing, courtship displays, copulation, nest building, carrying food or feeding young, or the presence of recently fledged young. The species that were confirmed breeders, in order of number of observations, included Song Sparrow, House Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, Mallard, Tree Swallow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Anna’s Hummingbird, American Crow, California Quail, Lesser Goldfinch, Mourning Dove, White-crowned Sparrow, Bushtit, Purple Finch, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Oak Titmouse, Western Bluebird, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Red-tailed Hawk, Violet-green Swallow, and Allen’s Hummingbird. Indirect evidence suggested that other probable breeding species included California Towhee, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Downy Woodpecker, and Lawrence’s Goldfinch.

Read the 2021 data summary report on the MCAS website (scroll to bottom of webpage) or read on the MCAS Facebook page.

The data summary report has additional photos.

MCAS would like to extend a huge thanks to all of the volunteers who participated in this study, including several of the Sweet Springs “Ambassadors” who incidentally monitored bird occurrences and breeding behaviors at the Preserve. A special thanks to Jay Carroll, who transcribed the data from each survey and compiled it for future studies. If you are interested in volunteering for next year’s survey, please contact Kaaren Perry at kaaren@morrocoastaudubon.org. 

- Kaaren Perry, Project Manager
- Jay Carroll, Project Data Compiler