San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[San Diego County Bird Atlas Project]

Bird Atlas Closing Call
Summer 2002

Thank You to Our Supporters
Century Club Note of Thanks
Follow-up to Model Species Account
After the Atlas

Thank You to Our Awesome Supporters

At this critical time in the San Diego County Bird Atlas, as we make the push to completion of the final products, we are more glad than ever to be able to acknowledge the financial support of key organizations.

It is a great honor to have the opportunity so soon again to thank the San Diego Foundation. From its Blasker-Rose-Miah Fund for science and technology, the San Diego Foundation awarded us $22,000 toward the web-based accessibility of our database. With another grant from the San Diego Foundation of $5000, coming through the initiative of an anonymous donor, we have now received enough to complete the publication of the atlas over the World Wide Web, in cooperation with Penobscot Bay Media. Many users will find the Web the most convenient way to use the atlas, and only through this medium will users be able to overlay the distributions of any two species or a species and a variety of environmental variables to make the atlas the most powerful tool possible. One of the requirements of the Blasker grant was that it provide a bridge to extending our databases to other organisms, so we are glad to direct $4000 toward the mapping needed for the mammal atlas. Thanks very much to Bill Kuni, Emily Young, Carolyn Colwell, Ted Case, Tom Oberbauer, Mike Kelly, and everyone among the San Diego Foundation's staff and volunteer proposal reviewers. Their continued support has assured that our results will reach the broadest audience possible. Special thanks to museum grant writer Elizabeth Castillo, whose enthusiasm and expertise are so critical to us with these applications.

Museum board member and past president Jim Clements has offered us his extremely valuable expertise and services with publication in print. As president of Ibis Publishing Company, Jim has contacts and experience in printing as worldwide as his bird list. He has got a bid on printing that will bring our costs down from the original estimate by $40,000, while delivering top quality. Thus we are extremely grateful to Jim for his help and advice, which in one stroke brought us far closer to our goal of printing the book in full color.

The San Diego Audubon Society has also supported us with a contribution of $1000 toward publication costs. San Diego Audubon members, of course, have been with us as key participants since the atlas' beginning. We are very grateful for their continuing support as the project enters its final phase. Thanks especially to Jim Coatsworth and chapter president Kathie Satterfield for their leadership in making this generous contribution.

We are thankful too that our old friends have helped ensure that we can operate at full speed to completion. The U.S. Forest Service, through an extension of a cost-share agreement, provides a further $18,000. Matched by funds from other sources, this agreement allows us to apply the funds to either publication or operation, valuable flexibility as we piece together our strategy. Thanks very much to Kirsten Winter and Anne Fege for their unflagging faith in providing this extension.

And our earliest supporting agency, the California Department of Transportation, is helping see us through as well. Renewal of its grant ensures that we are able to retain Ann Klovstad through June 2003. Thank you to Darlene Alcorn and Sue Scatolini of CalTrans for their continuing support, and to Barbara Kus for her coordination, making sure the grant's flow through San Diego State University Foundation ran as smoothly as possible.

Century Club Note of Thanks

This is NOT a formal report. When I proposed the formation of the Century Club, I promised no meetings, no officers, no elections, no committees and no formal reports. However, I am delighted to tell you that membership in the Century Club has already raised over $15,000! Thanks to your support, we are assured of having full-color plates in OUR bird atlas.

Even with this assurance, it is not too late for you to add to your "pride of ownership." All Century Club membership fees will go toward publication costs of the atlas.

If you haven't had the opportunity to join this unique club, please do so now. The membership fee is still $100. Make checks payable to SDNHM/Century Club and mail to the Department of Birds and Mammals, San Diego Natural History Museum, P.O. Box 121390, San Diego CA 92112-1390.

Again, sincere thanks to ALL of you.

--Bert McIntosh

Follow-up to Model Species Account

Thanks to the many people who commented on the draft species account for the Yellow Warbler. The suggestions were very helpful and constructive. Here are some of the clarifications and modifications I'm making to the accounts' format, in large part on the basis of this feedback.

The paragraphs on identification will be included only in the electronic version of the atlas, not the printed one. A printed atlas is not a field guide; its primary purpose is to interpret and disseminate the original data we recorded these past five years. On a website, though, where we are less restricted for space, we want to reach the widest audience of web surfers.

I will generate the map legends as well as the maps themselves with the ArcView program. Using ArcView's legend editor will obviate the possibility of disagreement between the maps and legends. The legends will be more thorough, to eliminate any ambiguity. Thanks to Barbara Bell for teaching me the tricks needed to manipulate the legends and accomplish these goals.

The winter and breeding maps will normally be printed at the same scale, across two columns.

Using colors, the maps will emphasize the levels of breeding confirmation. Because breeding confirmations are what we focused on primarily, it makes most sense to give them greatest prominence. Using shading, the maps will still show relative abundance, but less prominently. Space constraints still compel us to depict both these variables on a single map. We will use shading to show abundance differences on the winter maps too, so these will be parallel with the breeding-season maps.

The charts of nesting schedules will have vertical lines crossing them to allow the dates to be more easily read. We will show intervals of either 15 or 30 days, as appropriate to the species. This standardization will facilitate comparison of multiple species. The charts will feature the number of records in each category shown.

The section on nesting will follow immediately after the section on breeding distribution.

There will be plenty of reference material providing background for interpreting the species accounts in the introduction. This will include reference maps as well, showing place names, physical features, roads, etc. The most important of these can be duplicated on the endpapers.

--Phil Unitt

After the Atlas

Even though our five years of data recording for the atlas are over, the birds and other organisms that make up our environment are still out there and in need of as much study and conservation as always. Other opportunities to participate in an organized way need your support.

Robert Patton has reinstituted monthly bird counts at San Elijo Lagoon, on the second Monday of each month. The counts that took place at San Elijo from November 1973 to October 1983 were analyzed and published by Dave King, Mona Baumgartel, John DeBeer, and Terry Meyer in Western Birds volume 18, pages 177-208, in 1987. This paper is a major source of information on the status and changes of the birds of our coastal wetlands, and resumption of these counts will be especially valuable because of the long perspective of the earlier data. So please help with these counts if you can! Contact Robert at or 858.560.9681.

San Diego Audubon has instituted a monthly bird count at Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary, on the third Sunday of every month. Please contact Resident Manager Nola Lamken at or 619-443-2998.

Your observations of San Diego County mammals are still needed! Though the upcoming mammal atlas differs from the bird atlas in not being based on a grid system or a specific window of time, it will resemble it in amassing a large comprehensive database and generating accounts of each species, addressing its distribution and conservation needs. Scott Tremor, Wayne Spencer, Jay Diffendorfer and their many cooperators-essentially every biologist who works with mammals in San Diego County-are already hard at work on this project. Please contact Scott at or 619.449.0760 to see how you can contribute.

The San Diego County Bird Atlas has inspired the botanists too! Anne Fege, supervisor of the Cleveland National Forest, and Tom Oberbauer of the county Department of Planning and Land Use, have brought many of the county's botanists together to brainstorm on the region's needs in plant conservation. They propose that a plant atlas in some form could give a unified direction to many of these needs, such as improved documentation, better information about invasive weeds, and better education of the public about San Diego County's botanical heritage-even more diverse, more distinctive, and more imperiled than our birds. Such a project will need participants who can recognize what plants are different and collect them properly, even if they can't identify every one of the county's 2000 species. Thus Jon Rebman, the museum's curator of botany, has proposed a program to train "parabotanists," the people who will need to get into the field to make a plant atlas possible. Please check the museum's website at for news on this exciting front.

Finally, we can't ignore the birds. If you see anything that differs noticeably from what we observed during the atlas' term, please report it. Such things include new breeding or wintering species for a square, unusual dates of migrants or nesting activity, or unusually high or low numbers for a species in an area. Already this year the Osprey, Burrowing Owl, Mountain Chickadee, and Purple Martin have done things they hadn't in the preceding five. As always, birds will be at the forefront of our ability to detect environmental change.

Summer 2002 Wrenderings | Wrenderings Archive | Bird Atlas Introduction