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Articles from The Sierra Wave for May/June, 2001

Volume 19, Number 5


May 9
Refreshments: June Nelson

Main Program: David Carle will give an audiovisual presentation on his recently published book, Drowning the Dream, Californias Water Choices at the Millennium. CHOICE reviews says, Carles analysis of the impact of an ever-expanding need for water on the past and future of California is well done, so much so that his book has enormous value to those wrestling with issues of sustainability everywhere. T.H. Watkins says, What his inventive and informative text also demonstrates is that if the state does not soon turn back on its own history, its infatuation with limitless growth and the water to supply it, it may create a world too ugly to contemplate. Carle writes, Water choices have shaped Californias history and transformed its environment. In the last century, decisions were made to bring water to Southern California from the Eastern Sierra, the Colorado River and from northern California rivers. Those choices made it possible for population growth to exceed regional carrying capacities. Each brought enormous changes in the decades that followed, at both ends of the water transport systems, both to the environment and Californians quality-of-life. Fascinating first-person accounts reveal the promises and hopes behind the campaigns to approve each project, compared to the results that actually followed. David Carle retired last autumn from 27 years as a ranger with the California State Parks System, most of those years at Mono Lake, to write full-time. His next book, to be published in 2001, will be Burning Questions: Americas Hundred Years War Against Natures Fire. For more information phone Jim at 872-4447.

June 13
Potluck Picnic Dinner, Millpond Park. MEET AT 6:00 PM. Bring a dish to share, something to drink, and your tableware. Barbecuers bring your barbeques. Come enjoy fellowship and good food.


A warm Eastern Sierra Audubon welcome to the following new, transfer and returning members:

Clara Armstrong - Bishop
Richard Arnold - Swall Meadows
Julie Baldwin - June Lake
Lila Bauter - Bishop
Joan Benner - Big Pine
Tara Clark - Bishop
Grace Cook - Mammoth Lakes
Sharon Corsaro - Bishop
Bradley & Janet Daigle - Mammoth Lakes
Harry Finney - Benton
Trina Jennison - Mammoth Lakes
Michele Mauro - Bishop
William Mitchel - Bishop
Laura Mogg - Mammoth Lakes
Richard Potashin - Independence
Susan Powell - Bishop
Karin Sorensen - Bishop
John Williams - Bishop

Election at the May 9 meeting

The following slate has been arrived at by the Nominating Committee. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor.

President (2 yrs): James Wilson
Vice President: Joan Benner
Secretary: Mary Vocelka
Treasurer: Sandra Whitehouse
Board Members:
Warren Alsup
Larry Blakely
Carolyn Gann
Chris Howard
Phill Kiddoo
Debby Parker
Jim Parker

Yes, the ESAS annual yardsale happened regardless of the rain, snow, wind and cold, and brief intermittent warm sunshine. We had fun anyway and met lots of nice folks who braved the weather to come peruse and purchase our wares. The Pres, Jim Parker, stayed up late the night before and baked six dozen cupcakes and frosted them all early the next morning. Mary and Derrick, who offered their home for the sale, had a huge coffee pot full of delicious hot coffee to give away free to all of our somewhat chilled yard sailors who usually acknowledged our offer with a smile, and I could use some. Somebody smart, probably Dorothy Burnstrom, brought clear plastic to cover the tables, and still allow people to see what was under it and make their purchases. Bea Cooley helped keep the tables organized and decided when to haul things in and out of the garage, depending on the current weather conditions (rain, wind, hail or snow). Still we had fun and made a whopping $550 for our effort, which will benefit our programs, one of which is our education program. Thanks to Phill Kiddoo and family, Gordon and June Nelson, Robert and Jeannette Paschal, Larry, Ruth, and Susan Blakely, Parkers and all (sorry if we missed thanking you!) for donated items for this fundraiser. Thanks to Chuck Washburn and John Burnstrom for helping to clean up afterward too!

Debby Parker


As this is the last issue until September, please regularly check the local media and the ESAS website for information on ESAS field trips through the late Spring and Summer.


What should one do upon encountering an injured bird or other critter? It certainly depends on the circumstances; here's one thoughtful biologist's view.

by Joy Fatooh
BLM Biologist

The Kestrel and the Oriole
The kestrel hovers and hovers but sees no prey. Beyond her sight two downy nestlings wait, growing weak for lack of food and unprotected from hungry raven or heavy rain. Her mate disappeared a week ago. It was a long, cold, dry winter; prey are scarce, and her hunting luck has been bad. She spots a sagebrush vole but it darts into a hole. She ventures over a hill and cautiously approaches a spring-fed aspen grove outside her usual range.

The aspen grove is delirious with birdsong. The kestrel positions herself on a high branch at the edge of a small, grassy clearing deep within the grove and waits, desperately alert. An anomalous motion catches her eye: a fledgling Bullock´s oriole is beginning its first wobbly flight across the clearing. Instantly she assesses its drooping trajectory and launches her ballistic course to intercept it. Wham! – despite an erratic wobble at the last split-second, she succeeds in knocking it to the ground.

Alive but disabled, the fledgling oriole lies stunned on the wet grass. The kestrel moves to pick it up – and quickly changes course. More bad luck. A human has entered the clearing. The kestrel dodges into a tree and watches, waiting for the human to flounder obliviously onward as humans usually do.

But the human is looking directly at the fallen oriole. The human looks from the fledgling to its alarmed parents that have arrived noisily on the scene, back at the fledgling on the ground. The human takes a step forward.

What happens next?

If you are the human you can write your own ending. If you know proper wildlife rescue procedures and feel a strong personal moral imperative to save the lives of weak, sick or injured animals, then I would never try to dissuade you from following your personal moral imperative.

If you are undecided, you may consider these facts as you stand at the clearing´s edge:

Everything that lives dies.

Everything that dies gets eaten. Something will eat it, be it predator or scavenger, charismatic as a kestrel or inconspicuous as an insect or microscopic as a microbe. Even if it´s consumed by flames, its ashes will add nutrients to the soil where a plant may grow.

A wild creature that dies in the wild will be eaten by another wild creature that will, therefore, live.

Ecosystems are powered by life and death, kept in balance by constant small adjustments, one life at a time.

Evolution is powered by life and death. The reason we have such a diversity of creatures is that, under various diverse circumstances, some live and some die.

When I step into a clearing and see something about to die, I stand in awe of all of that. And I wonder what is about to eat and live.

Something about to die because, for instance, it hit my windowpane, might be a different story.

Because this is a true story, I can tell you my ending. I don´t know the beginning – how desperate the kestrel really was, whether it did indeed have nestlings or how long they had been hungry. I saw the fledgling oriole´s flight, the kestrel´s sudden strike and retreat. I saw the American kestrel – magnificent little falcon with graceful wings and lovely patterned head – eyeing me from the south edge of the clearing, and the adult Bullock´s oriole pair – brilliantly colored songbirds returned from the faraway tropics – calling their alarm from the north. Because my business there was a breeding bird survey, I took a gentle step forward to verify that the bird on the ground was indeed a fledgling Bullock´s oriole.

Then I followed my personal moral imperative: quickly and quietly I left that clearing, thrilled to have witnessed a rarely-seen drama of life and death and life.

I saw a picture the other day showing piles of dead birds at the base of a giant communications tower. This has become a major problem, especially affecting migratory birds; between 4 and 10 million birds are killed each year. Most kills occur at night - the birds seem attracted by the lights that warn off airplanes (coastal lighthouses have doomed many a migrant for centuries), and as many or more birds are killed by hitting supporting wires as by the towers themselves. The recent explosion in tower construction, and the recognition of serious population declines among migrating birds, has lead to an increase in awareness and concern. A few months ago the US Fish and Wildlife issued guidlines for the siting and construction of communication towers. Recommendations include limiting height so that lighting wont be needed, and putting towers in clusters rather than scattered over the landscape. As towers march up the Owens Valley, lets hope that they conform to the guidlines. For more info: < > and < >.

Larry B.


Tulare Basin to Benefit from Federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grant Sacramento, CA, Monday, April 2 - The National Audubon Society has received a million-dollar North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant, allowing the conservation group to launch a program to restore and enhance wetlands and uplands in the historic Tulare Basin of the southern Central Valley of California.

The NAWCA grant, the first to apply to the southern San Joaquin, will support the acquisition and restoration of wetlands on 2,762 acres; the restoration of an additional 200 acres; and the enhancement of more than 22,400 acres. Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (DU) will partner with Audubon to deliver the projects.

"Historic Goose Lake, along with Tulare, Kern, and Buena Vista Lakes, once provided homes for millions of waterfowl and shorebirds. Today, these areas are dry in all but the wettest of winters. This project allows a desperately needed restoration of what was once among the nation's most significant wetland habitats," says Audubon California State Director Dan Taylor. "We look forward to working with Ducks Unlimited to help this area recover its natural resource value."

The remainder of this press release may be found on the ESAS website here:
< >.

By Dana York, Botanist
Death Valley National Park

Throughout the nation exotic species have invaded just about every kind of habitat known. The desert is no exception. Many people believe that the desert is protected from invasive plants because of the extreme conditions such as those found in Death Valley. Although Death Valley is the driest, hottest, and lowest place in North America, it is also home to 85 naturalized exotic plants. These include species such as saltcedar, date and California fan palms, athel, puncture vine, Himalayan blackberry, Russian thistle, tree of heaven, yellow star-thistle, halogeton, Bermuda grass, rabbitsfoot grass, common dandelion, cheat grass, red brome, sow thistle, and London rocket. Cheat grass and red brome are so widespread throughout the Mojave and Great Basin deserts that eradication is impossible. There are management practices that can control the spread or densities of exotic grasses such as red brome and cheat grass, but as far as eradication is concerned, the park´s current main focus is saltcedar (tamarisk), athel (tamarisk), palms, yellow-star thistle, puncture vine, halogeton, tree of heaven, and London rocket.

The areas of the park that are the most vulnerable to exotic plant invasions are the wetlands and riparian habitats associated with springs and streams, road shoulders, parking lots and trails, and other places that receive large numbers of visitors. The methods of exotic plant introduction into the park probably include animal scat, wind, car tires, human clothing, road maintenance equipment, grazing animals, hay, and escaped landscape plants.

Last year the park created a job position to work exclusively on eradicating exotic plants and restoring natural habitats. The park hired Tim Croissant. As my employee, Tim works closely with various experts and me to determine methods, priorities, and personnel needed to achieve our objectives. Tim has been the lead for several crews that the park has brought in to assist with the eradication program. Tim´s accomplishments over the past year include removing the last of the athel debris and sprouts from Furnace Creek wash; palm and tamarisk eradication in the Nevares, Texas, and Travertine springs areas; removing saltcedar at remote springs throughout the park; removing saltcedar in Saline Valley; removing London rocket from Texas Spring Campground; and planting wetland vegetation in the Texas Springs drainage.

To protect birds, removal of exotic shrubs and trees is mostly if not entirely implemented during the non-nesting season. The small amount of saltcedar work that occurred this nesting season only proceeded after the shrubs and adjacent areas were surveyed and found lacking nesting birds. It is our intent to plant locally-collected mesquites and other native plants to replace the exotic trees and shrubs we remove from the park´s wetlands. Replacing exotic plants with native species results in a net increase in biological diversity. The end product is a healthier more resilient ecosystem.

Exotic landscape plants that were obviously planted historically or in more recent times, are not targeted for removal unless they are causing a problem that justifies an action. Because these types of landscapes could be considered culturally significant due to their context or historic nature, we mostly ignore them and concentrate on natural areas. Examples of landscapes that could be considered culturally significant include Cow Creek offices and housing areas, Furnace Creek Visitors Center, Furnace Creek Ranch & Inn (which are privately held), Stovepipe Wells, and Saline Valley Warm Springs. One thing we can do at these locations is encourage the use of native plants as replacements for the exotics as they die. With the help of the folks at Saline Valley Warm Springs, this is the approach that is being taken with the palms. The palms seedlings are being removed to make room for mesquites and other native plants.

Prevention is the most important aspect of our exotic plant management program. So here are some things you can do to help Death Valley National Park:

· report sitings of exotic plants to Tim or me (760-786-3233,, especially if observed at remote locations of the park

· let us know if you observe nesting birds in exotic plants in the park

· don´t bring seeds for planting into the park

· use only weed-free feed or pellets for stock animals used in the park—start them on their weed-free diet several days before their trip

· drive only on roads

· check and clean boots and clothing for weed seed before entering the park

· check and clean, if necessary, your pets before entering the park

· become an active member of the Eastern Sierra Weed Management Area Committee—check with the Inyo/Mono County Agricultural Commissioner for meeting times and locations

· volunteer a day or more to help us remove exotic plants

An important thing to remember about what the park is trying to achieve when managing its natural habitats, is that we are not trying to turn the clock back in time so things can look like they did hundreds of years ago, but rather we are striving to maintain biological diversity by restoring or protecting the natural functions and processes inherent to these systems. THE AUDUBON ADVISORY, Feb. 20


More than 150 injured or orphaned wild animals - robins and raccoons, woodpeckers and chipmunks - received care from Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care volunteers in 2000. Would you like to help our wildlife this year? Licensed rehabilitator Cindy Kamler, Director of Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care, will give a wildlife rehabilitation training class on Saturday, May 19, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, at the Crowley Lake Community Center. There is a $40 fee for the class and pre-registration is required as class size is limited. For information and registration, call ESWC at 872-1487 or 935-4712.

This once-a-year class offers an overview of wildlife rehabilitation, rescue, first aid and transport, and in-depth training in the care of baby songbirds (diets, feeding techniques, housing, and more). By attending this class, you, too, can become a trained volunteer in wildlife rehabilitation and help raise and rehabilitate those birds and animals who need our help.

The Owens Valley can be defined, dryly, as a 100-mile long by 6-to-20-mile wide drop in the earth´s crust between two large faults at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada and at the western base of the Inyo. The valley reaches north to the Volcanic Tablelands and south past the Haiwee Reservoir. Before 1900, the Owens River ran through it, starting at the southern tip of the Long Valley Caldera, gathering water from multiple streams that drained the eastern Sierra, and flowing into the Owens Lake, once a navigable body of water (15 miles long, 10 miles wide, and about 30 feet deep) used as a stopover for millions of migratory waterfowl. The valley region hosts more than 2,000 plant species and more than 320 bird species (many migratory). Snowmelt and an approximately 10,000-foot rise in elevation between the valley floor and the Sierra Nevada and White-Inyo mountains have fostered a wealthy thicket of microenvironments.

In 1902, to open more western land to settlement and irrigation, Congress created the United States Reclamation Service. The Owens Valley was one of the first places considered for a government-sponsored irrigation system. Simultaneously, however, William Mulholland, Los Angeles superintendent of water, took note of the quality, quantity, and proximity of Owens Valley water. Well aware that more water was necessary for Los Angeles´ growth, Mulholland and others garnered political and economic support for a Los Angeles water project by implying in speeches, interviews, and articles that Los Angeles teetered on the brink of a water crisis.

Letting Owens Valley ranchers and farmers believe they were selling their land to the U.S. Reclamation Service for the Owens Valley irrigation project, engineers J .B. Lippincott and Fred Eaton bought vast amounts of land and associated water rights in the valley for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The Reclamation Service subsequently scuttled the irrigation project. Instead of returning reclamation service land in the Owens Valley to the public domain for homesteading, Forest Service chief Gifford Pinchot - with the encouragement of President Teddy Roosevelt - made reclamation land (mostly treeless) a part of the Inyo National Forest under the auspices of the "greatest good for the greatest number".

Over the protests of valley farmers and ranchers, Los Angeles completed the first aqueduct from the valley to Los Angeles in 1913 and filled it with surface water from the Owens River and from reductions in irrigation. LADWP continued to acquire land and water rights as valley farmers gave up their dead and dying crops and orchards and moved. By 1924, Owens Lake and approximately fifty miles of the Owens River were dry. By the 1930s, Los Angeles owned approximately 95 percent of all farm and ranch land in the valley. In 1940, LADWP completed construction on an 11-mile underground tunnel connecting Mono Basin with the Owens River in Long Valley, and in 1963, LADWP approved plans for a second aqueduct with a capacity of 300 cubic feet per second, bringing the total proposed aqueduct capacity to 780 cubic feet per second. To fill the second aqueduct, which was completed in 1970, DWP proposed reducing irrigation in Inyo and Mono counties, diverting more surface water from Inyo and Mono counties (including surface water going to Mono Lake), and pumping groundwater from the Owens Valley.

In late 1970, the California legislature passed the California Environmental Quality Act, which, among other measures, required agencies to consider, at least, environmental consequences of their actions in the form of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). In 1972, when Los Angeles announced increases in groundwater pumping, Inyo County took advantage of the act and sued LADWP to force the agency to file an EIR. LADWP responded by installing water meters in residences and threatening to cut off water to agricultural and recreational lessees. In court, Los Angeles claimed it did not have to provide an EIR because it had completed the aqueduct before the California Environmental Quality Act was passed, but Inyo County argued successfully that groundwater pumping was a separate action from building the aqueduct. Foiled, Los Angeles completed two EIRs, one in 1976 and a second in 1979. Both reports were rejected as inadequate by the courts.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles continued to pump groundwater. Wetland meadows, seeps, springs, and marshes dried and disappeared, well water levels dropped, and vegetation in the valley began to change. Dust storms increased. In 1980, Inyo County voters passed an ordinance to regulate groundwater pumping in the valley through a groundwater management plan. Los Angeles sued, and Inyo was directed in May 1981 not to implement the ordinance. In July 1983, the ordinance was ruled unconstitutional by a superior court, although it was within Inyo County´s rights to appeal the ruling.

In 1982, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors began closed meetings with LADWP to develop a groundwater management plan. Under the terms of the agreement, Inyo and the DWP would work together for five years on a joint management plan; Inyo would temporarily drop its groundwater ordinance lawsuit and its opposition to the second EIR, and Los Angeles would continue to pump groundwater. If lnyo and Los Angeles failed to agree on groundwater pumping, Los Angeles would resort to a pumping table that allowed the city to take three times as much water as the county had recommended in its own management plans. No enforcement measures for the agreement were proposed, and recommendations of a citizen´s advisory committee to the Inyo Water Commission were ignored. The terms of the agreement were drafted in a series of meetings closed to the public and then presented to Owens Valley residents shortly before the agreement was to be ratified.

Faced with an agreement with no legal teeth and no limits on pumping, members of the citizen´s advisory committee and other concerned residents of Owens Valley -including Bill and Barbara Manning, Mary DeDecker, Vince Yoder, David Miller, Michael Prather, Father Christopher Kelley, and Kenny Scruggs-formed the Owens Valley Committee (OVC) in late 1983. The committee incorporated in early 1984 to avoid lawsuits against individuals. The first actions of OVC representatives (there were no official members) included publishing educational pamphlets dissecting the agreement, appearing and speaking at public meetings, conducting telephone surveys, writing letters to local newspapers, and publishing TV, radio, and newspaper ads about the 5-year water agreement and conditions in the Owens Valley.

When Inyo County and Los Angeles signed the agreement in spite of 1) the OVC´s objections, 2) opposition from other organizations, and 3) rampant public disapproval, the Owens Valley Committee sued to stay implementation of the water agreement until an adequate Environmental Impact Report had been filed. This suit was rejected by the Superior Court. The OVC and the Sierra Club Legal Defense fund then filed a friend of the court (amicus curiae) brief with the Third District Court of Appeals in Sacramento. In 1985, the appeals court approved the five-year water management agreement, but did not accept Inyo´s and Los Angeles´ argument that it should substitute for an EIR. Instead, Los Angeles was directed to present a new management plan and an adequate EIR by February 1989, at the end of the joint management plan development period.

From 1985 to 1990, LADWP and Inyo County developed a long-term joint groundwater management plan and began work on a draft EIR. The OVC continued to evaluate developing plans, to scrutinize LADWP actions in the valley, and to educate the public. After delays and deadline extensions from the appeals court, a draft EIR was released for public comment in 1990. Again, the OVC encouraged public commentary; a long-term drought encouraged even more public commentary. The OVC supported the long-term agreement, but it did not support the EIR, noting, among other problems, an inadequate description of the valley environment prior to 1970, an inadequate description of 1970-1990 environmental impacts, and an inadequate drought recovery policy. In late 1991, Inyo and Los Angeles signed a long-term water agreement and submitted a “final” EIR to the appeals court, in spite of objections to the EIR. Owens Lake pollution was not mentioned in this EIR or in the agreement because the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District was negotiating a separate agreement on dust abatement with LADWP. The Third Court of Appeals invited friend of the court briefs from several organizations, including the OVC and Carla Scheidlinger, the California Department of Fish and Game, the California State Lands Commission, and the Sierra Club. The court also strongly invited these organizations to pursue settlement discussions outside of court before filing a brief.

Deadline extensions and negotiations ensued. Although OVC and other involved parties supported the agreement between Inyo and LADWP, doubts about the EIR persisted. The California Department of Fish and Game and LADWP could not agree on EIR rewatering conditions for the Lower Owens River Project, and out-of-court settlement talks ended in 1993. From 1993 to 1997, a series of negotiations and studies, including a study of the effects of rewatering parts of the lower Owens River, resulted in a June 1997 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Inyo, LADWP, the OVC, Carla Scheidlinger, the Sierra Club, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the California State Lands Commission.

The MOU gives the Owens Valley a legal leg up in water negotiations. It provides for a number of studies and mitigation projects, including:

1. The Lower Owens River Project: a 60-mile stretch of the lower Owens River will be rewatered, including an average of 6-9 cubic feet per second of water supplied to the Owens River delta at the north end of Owens Lake. Off-river lakes and ponds will be maintained or restored, and an area near Blackrock Springs will be flooded to provide habitat for resident and migratory waterfowl.

2. An evaluation of Yellow-Billed Cuckoo habitat at Hogback and Baker creeks.

3. An aerial photo analysis of vegetation.

4. An inventory of flora and fauna at springs and seeps.

5. Control of salt cedar (an invasive exotic).

6. Development of management plans for riparian and other sensitive habitats.

A key element of the MOU provides for the formation of a Steering Committee with a representative from each party to the MOU. The Steering Committee will consult on all aspects of the MOU.

What this means for the Owens Valley Committee: The OVC´s most important task, in Bill Manning´s words, is “eternal vigilance.” OVC members and other parties to the MOU will have a strong voice-on paper-in future water management, but we´ll also have to keep our eyes on the water itself since what happens in print is not always what happens in practice.

As a party to the MOU, the OVC will review and provide feedback on technical memoranda, studies, project implementation-in short, on practically all stages of the planning process for LADWP´s projects and policies in the Owens Valley, or at least projects included in the MOU. Projects stemming from the MOU will only be as strong as MOU parties choose to make them.

As informed advocates for the Owens Valley, OVC´s role in educating, polling, and/or reminding the public about water issues will continue to be crucial. OVC representatives will have to be speakers, letter writers, field trip leaders, envelope lickers, critics, librarians, carrots, sticks, and other stubborn forms of flora and fauna. Conditions permitting, they will also have to last as long as the valley.

Many thanks to Betty Gilchrist, Bill Manning, and Barbara Manning for providing invaluable insight, newspaper articles, and brochures and news releases about the Owens Valley Committee. -Ceal Klingler

To join the Owens Valley Committee contact Mike Prather, President, Drawer D, Lone Pine, CA 93545


By Tom and Jo Heindel

The Orioles are arguably one of the most beautiful groups of birds in the world. Those found in the US are members of the blackbird family Icteridae. They are not closely related to the orioles of the old world, which are in the family Oriolidae and also brightly colored.

Six species of orioles have been reliably documented in Inyo County. Half are regular breeders and the others are visitors that range from fairly regular to extremely rare with only one record.

The BULLOCK´S ORIOLE is the common, widespread oriole of the county. They arrive in late March, rapidly becoming fairly common until mid August when they begin to withdraw south for the winter. They prefer large shade trees in towns and parks.

The SCOTT´S ORIOLE is best found in semi-arid habitats of Joshua Trees and Pinyon-Juniper woodlands. They return in early April and depart by late August. One of the best places to find this fairly common species is at Joshua Flat, east of Big Pine.

The HOODED ORIOLE is a regular summer visitor to the southeast corner of the county and is annual in the Owens Valley. Its breeding status in the valley remains unclear. They are fairly common in early spring (late March and April), but then numbers taper off. They have nested in Saline Valley, Scotty´s Castle, Death Valley National Park, and Tecopa. Nesting needs to be documented for the Owens Valley. They prefer palms, which are in short supply in northern Inyo County.

The BALTIMORE ORIOLE is the eastern counterpart of the Bullock´s Oriole and until a few years ago, they were considered one species and called Northern Oriole. They are more common here in spring (late April to early June) than fall (mid August to early November) with about three-fourths of the 50 records in late May and early June.

The ORCHARD ORIOLE is an eastern species that has been found in the county 23 times. There are nine spring records from 14 May to 4 June and 14 fall records from 13 August to 19 November. While the adult males are very distinctive, great care must be taken to separate females and sub-adult males from the much more expected and very similar Hooded Oriole.

The STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE is a Mexican species that visited just once at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley National Park from 6 November to 21 December 1977. At the time, this was only the third state record.

All of our orioles are migratory and, being insectivorous, all depart in winter for warmer climates to the south. A good way to view them is to attract them with hummingbird feeders with the bee guards removed. There are also special oriole feeders that are similar with slightly larger holes to accommodate their larger bills. These flamboyant birds are with us for only a small part of the year, so now is the time to enjoy these tropical gems.


This years phenomenal Painted Lady butterfly migration makes our scaled (as opposed to feathered) friends hard to overlook. And indeed many birders in recent years have expanded their horizons to include the lovely lepidopterans. I know of 2 or 3 good books on California butterflies, and there are also websites, which cost much less. One site that I recently came across, The Butterflies of North America, put up by the US Geological Survey < >, is quite useful. Select a state, and you are presented with a list of all the butterflies known to occur there. Select a species, and you will, in most cases, find photos of adult and caterpillar, plus a detailed description, life history and distribution information, a map showing the counties in the state where the butterfly has been found, and a list of references for further reading. We see that the Painted Lady has been found in all California counties. Its range: On all continents except Australia and Antarctica. From the deserts of northern Mexico, the Painted Lady migrates and temporarily colonizes the United States and Canada south of the Arctic. Occasionally, population explosions in Mexico will cause massive northward migrations. And how!

Larry B.