Sunday, October 5, 2014

Oct 5 (Day 278) - Disconnected in Big Sur, thoughts on the State of the Birds 2014

Hello All. It's Sonia. This morning Dorian biked from Monterey to Big Sur where he will be staying tonight. He won't have wifi connection so you might be stuck with me for a day or two while he's out of touch. While in the Big Sur area he is hoping to find the California Condor since he can now count it for his Big Year. I've never seen one of these myself so I did a quick Google search to see what it looks like. As I was going through all the photos online I really couldn't help but notice a resemblance, especially in the afro area....

...someday Dorian will learn that he shouldn't
ever leave me in control of his blog.

I didn't know much about the Condor, other than it's a huge bird that carries the name of my home state. I do remember a teacher once talking about this bird in grade school and explaining that it was on the verge of extinction. I was pleasantly surprised today to learn that the species has rebounded from near extinction and there are now a couple hundred of them floating around on the West coast (up from about 20 of them in the 1980's). This, of course, got me thinking a lot about conservation in general... which lead me down the road to Googling articles about Condor conservation... which eventually lead me to reading the 2014 State of the Birds report released in Sept of this year. And let me tell you, any good feelings I had about the Condor's recovery were quickly replaced with discouraging feelings about the state other species. The report starts by talking about the plight of the Passenger Pigeon. "The Passenger Pigeon was the most abundant bird America has ever known... they darkened the skylines of New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Louis. In 1860, one flock estimated to be a billion-birds strong was said to be 300 miles long... Forty years later, the river had dried up to the last few drops, a single bird or a solitary pair that had thus far escaped market hunting and forest clearing. These known pigeons in the wild were shot around 1902. Then on September 1, 1914, the very last Passenger Pigeon- a captive bird the keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo called Martha - died." In about half the span of a person's life, this particular species of birds went from over 2 billion to extinction. Geez, talk about some cheery Sunday morning reading.

Luckily I kept on reading to find out about some great conservation initiatives that have taken place to keep this from repeating with other species. The Condor was one of those examples, but if you haven't read the report yet, I encourage you to check it out. You can find the whole report at You can also watch the YouTube video below; it gives a very brief summary of some of the victories and some of the concerns in regards to specific bird populations. I think the most alarming part of this report was to see how many birds are on the Watch List and the number of common birds in steep decline (No! Not the Northern Pintail! It's one of my favorites). 

If you are reading this blog it is likely that you agree that bird conservation is very important (unless you are one of the two people who somehow landed on this page thinking that "Biking for Birds" was a blog for attractive women and motorcycles). Therefore, I suppose this is as good a time as any to ask you to support initiatives like the one Dorian is undertaking. The biggest threat to bird population is habitat destruction and the funds that Dorian is raising this year go directly towards protecting some extremely vulnerable habitats (you can read more about his specific projects and donate here). You can also share your passion for nature and birds with people around you and get them as invested as you are. Birders make up a very large community. You have a voice. Use it. ...Or do you really want bird conservation to be left solely in the hands of the nut job below?

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you
your bird conservationist.

With that, I leave you with 2 more things (then I'll be done, promise):

1) Since Dorian is in CA at the moment, I thought it would be fun to mention that this week is RideShare week in Orange County, CA. If you live in SoCal and typically drive to work or other activities, pledge to carpool, ride a bike or use public transportation this week (there are some incentives as well). Check out OCTA RideShare Week

2) There was a really lovely article about Dorian's adventure in BirdNote. It is fabulously written. You can find the article here

Ok, that is all. Goodnight.


  1. Great post Sonia! The condor comparison was too funny! :). Shhhh don't tell on me ;).

  2. Wonderful post, Sonia. Great stuff on bird conservation, the good news and the bad. Hope Dorian gets to see a Condor, his feathery twin!

  3. "Or do you really want bird conservation to be left solely in the hands of the nut job below?"

    ... and his nut job girlfriend! *LMAO*


    1. LOL! Yes, as they say: birds of a feather....