SS Breeding Bird Survey

At Nautical Bean in Baywood Park - Celebrating 10th Survey Year
L to R: Max Taylor, Kaaren Perry, Joanne Aasen, Jay Carroll, Bob Revel, Robbie Revel (missing are Mark Mushkat and Judy Neuhauser)

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve - Breeding Bird Survey: 2023 Summary

The tenth and final year of our breeding bird surveys at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve began on March 12 and was completed on July 2, 2023. Volunteers from Morro Coast Audubon Society conducted the surveys. The volunteers who participated this year were: Joanne Aasen, Jay Carroll, Mark Mushkat, Judy Neuhauser, Kaaren Perry, Bob Revel, Robbie Revel, and Max Taylor. Those listed each participated in at least two of the nine bi-weekly surveys.


The main goal of these surveys is to identify and count 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.


The Preserve was divided into three sections of approximately equal area. Each section was surveyed for 30 minutes by an observer and accompanying data recorder using a modified Point Blue Bird Conservation Science area-search protocol.


The three sections were censused in a single morning, mainly from the public access trails and boardwalks. Surveys were conducted at two week intervals, beginning in March and ending in July.


We counted 1,254 birds comprising 57 species during the 2023 study period. Based on our survey data, 21 species (36.8%) were confirmed breeders and another four (7.0%) 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 House Finch, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Anna’s Hummingbird, Tree Swallow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, White-crowned Sparrow, American Crow, Western Flycatcher, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Oak Titmouse, California Towhee, Violet-green Swallow, California Quail, Great Horned Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, California Scrub-Jay, Western Bluebird, Wilson’s Warbler, Downy Woodpecker and Black Phoebe. Indirect evidence suggested that other probable breeding species included Mourning Dove, Common Yellowthroat, Spotted Towhee, and Allen’s Hummingbird.

The complete 2023 Data Summary Report can be accessed below. The summary includes additional photos, tables, and discussion of the results.

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 transcribes the data from each survey and compiles it for future studies, and to Kaaren Perry, who has been the Project Manager for 10 years.

- Kaaren Perry, Project Manager

- Jay Carroll, Data Compiler

Data Summary Reports:

2014 (species chart only) 2015


2017 2018 2019
2020 2021 2022