SS Breeding Bird Survey

Left to right: Jay Carroll, Joanne Aasen, Judy Neuhauser, Mark Mushkat, Max Taylor, Zach Fenske, and Kaaren Perry

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve - Breeding Bird Survey: 2022 Summary

The ninth year of our breeding bird surveys at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve began on March 13 and was completed on July 3, 2022. Volunteers from Morro Coast Audubon Society conducted the surveys. The volunteers who participated this year were: Joanne Aasen, Jay Carroll, Tom Edell, Mark Mushkat, Judy Neuhauser, Kaaren Perry, 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 1,343 birds comprising 59 species during the 2022 study period. Based on our survey data, 26 species (44.1%) were confirmed breeders and another two (3.4%) 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, Dark-eyed Junco, House Finch, Anna’s Hummingbird, American Crow, Lesser Goldfinch, Tree Swallow, Mallard, California Quail, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, California Towhee, Mourning Dove, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Common Yellowthroat, Bushtit, Oak Titmouse, Violet-green Swallow, Red-tailed Hawk, Bewick’s Wren, Great Horned Owl, Pine Siskin, Allen’s Hummingbird, American Robin, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Black Phoebe. Indirect evidence suggested that other probable breeding species included White-crowned Sparrow and Downy Woodpecker.

The complete 2022 Date 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. 

- Kaaren Perry, Project Manager

- Jay Carroll, Data Compiler

Data Summary Reports:

2014 (species chart only) 2015


2017 2018 2019
2020 2021 2022