Mendocino Land Trust

Working with you to conserve the land
while there's still time...

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Spring Bird Surveys

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Spring is in the air, and the mornings are filled with a chorus of songbirds. They sing to claim territory, find a mate, while they feather their nests, and raise their young. With all this boisterous activity over the next couple months, it is the perfect time to conduct bird surveys.

Since 2003, the Mendocino Land Trust has been conducting yearly surveys to record trends and abundance of some of our most common and beloved birds along the Big River estuary and Laguna. From April through May, with the help of a team of volunteer citizen scientists, three surveys are performed at 30 point stations along Big River, from the shoreline all the way up to the Laguna, which is nine miles inland. This area is rich in biodiversity, as so many different ecosystems can be observed within a few square miles, including ocean shoreline, river, coniferous forest, marsh, and tidal areas.

The reason to collect this data is not necessarily to look for rare birds or to compare the numbers of one species to another, but rather to observe over long enough periods of time population trends within a specific group. In the ten years of data collection thus far, we have seen a decline in the number of mourning doves and purple martins, while the pacific slope flycatchers and Wilson’s warblers remain abundant.

As the drought persists, we expect to see changes in the landscape as well as in the plants and animals that are able to adapt and thrive. Tracking and recording these changes every year will help us understand not only bird populations, but how the decline or rise of a species could affect others in the environment, providing necessary clues that help us better understand the intricate web of life present in our natural world.

If you already enjoy birding or want to take the next step to learn more, we invite you to join us for one of these surveys. You don’t need to be an expert birder to sign up; in fact, joining a survey team is a great way to learn how to identify birds in the field, with the help of some of the best birders on the Mendocino Coast.

If you would like to come along, please RSVP to Nicolet at or call (707) 962-0470. 

Explore and celebrate the land with us...