An Auspicious Beginning: Taking Flight
On February 22, 1997 the San Diego Bird Atlas project was formally kicked off at Mission Trails Regional Park. Senior Ranger Randy Hawley and his staff were magnificent hosts, as over 130 participants overflowed their auditorium, munched veggies, cheese, and fruit dipped in chocolate in the classroom and spilled out onto the deck to enjoy the sunset and the rising full moon. The volunteers received maps, handbooks, and instructions from Project Manager Phil Unitt. After a break for refreshments and conversation, they were inspired by the keynote speech by SDNHM Board member and world-renowned birder Dr. Jim Clements, who has a current life list of over 7000 species. Dr. Mini Negendran, Director of Bird Conservation for the California Office of the National Audubon Society, flew down from Sacramento to express support for this exciting enterprise.
Many thanks to Dorothy Hester and her crew of helpers and to participants Keith Smeltzer, Cheryl Mann, Ann Klovstad, and Margaret McIntosh who helped prepare the participants' packets and volunteered at the table making sure that everybody got the materials he or she needed. If there is anything you still need (forms, maps, directions…), please call Phil Unitt (619-232-3821 ext. 235) so he can send it to you.
Who's WhoThe San Diego Bird Atlas Project is a research endeavor of the San Diego Natural History Museum's Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias, which is focused on regional biology. Our Project Manager is Philip Unitt, Collections Manager of the Museum's Department of Birds and Mammals. The Executive Steering Committee is composed of Mike Evans, Conrad Sankpill (San Diego Audubon Society and San Diego Field Ornithologists), Dr. Karen Messer (Buena Vista Audubon Society), Ken Weaver (Palomar Audubon Society), Paul Jorgensen (California State Parks), and Mike Smith (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service). An important partner is Dr. Katie Boskoff (Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the Museum) who is assisting in the search for funding for the Project. And most important are the volunteer observersnow over 180adopting squares and recording the data that will become the basis for the Atlas itself. What a team!
Atlas SupportA project as ambitious as the San Diego County Bird Atlas is not inexpensive. Anticipated costs include salaries for the Project Manager and Administrative Assistant, materials for the volunteers, office needs, museum costs, and publication expenses for the atlas itself. These costs total more than $300,000 over six years. Financial support is being sought from a variety of sources. Grant proposals to a number of foundations and agencies are in varying stages of preparation and submission.
We are delighted that a grant to support the Bird Atlas Project from CalTrans to San Diego State University is providing an Administrative Assistant four days per week, needed for a wide variety of tasks, above all data entry. Ann Klovstad, already an atlas participant and volunteer for the Musem's library, will be working with Phil Unitt in that capacity. Ann has extensive experience with computer databases and amply demonstratee her organizational skills in the frenetic days leading up to the atlas' inauguration on 22 February at Mission Trails Park. We are enormously grateful to Pam Beare of CalTrans and Dr. Barbara Kus of San Diego State University for facilitating this grant. Ann's work beings on 1 July; she will be ready to being entering your data then. Therefore, take advantage of this opportunity to use the grant effectively by sending the data you have gathered and forms you have filled out now!
Collaborations with various agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Game, California State Parks, and local environmental consulting firms have been formed to provide access to lands, participation by representatives, and funding assistance.
In-kind gifts are extremely important to this project. The contributions of time in the field from our volunteers could be estimated to be worth over $700,000. The San Diego, Buena Vista, and Palomar Audubon Societies and the San Diego Field Ornithologists have been most helpful in providing volunteers and publicizing our efforts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has contributed professional expertise, access to its Geographic Information System, and many participants. Ogden Environmental and Energy Services has produced the color habitat maps for each square.
Individual donations have come from a host of friends, and we would like to acknowledge and thank Mary Mosher, Christine Nyhan, Jim and Barbara Peugh, Ruth Stalnaker, Norma Sullivan, and Herb Young for their generous gifts.
Fundraising for this project is an ongoing enterprise. If you have suggestions for funding possibilities, please contact Katie Boskoff at 232-3821 ext. 219 or email@example.com.
Corrections: Forms Handbook
By now everyone has undoubtedly noticed that code "PB" appears on the forms twice. "PB" should be used only for possible nest building, for pairs the correct code is "PR," as in the instruction handbook.
The typesetter who worked on the instruction handbook, customarily meticulous, suffered a split second of dyslexia in laying out the key to the map on the inside front cover. The letters "M" and "N" are reversed; the square are indeed coded in normal alphabetical sequence.
Although the instruction handbook says to look for young Green Herons in June and July, a fledgling was noted in Fallbrook square in April. Better information on breeding seasons is one contribution the atlas project will make!
Hutton's Vireo (Vireo huttoni), watercolor by Allan Brooks, painted in the early part of this century. The original is from the Ellen Browning Scripps collection now in the San Diego Natural History Museum.