BEFORE: Crescent Ave. in San Pedro, CA
Palm trees contained active Cassin's Kingbird & Hooded Oriole nests
(Photo courtesy of David Ellsworth / All Rights Reserved)
Palm trees butchered by city contractors and nests destroyed.
(Photo Courtesy of David Ellsworth / All Rights Reserved)
I’ve been super busy lately and my poor blog has suffered from neglect. Now I have my work cut out for me to catch up. I think I will put up separate posts for the past hikes and other adventures, but for this one I want to address something urgent and an issue that has occupied a lot of my recent free time: tree trimming by the city that is always done in the spring and summer, when birds are nesting!
The thing that was the tipping point for me was seeing a bunch of newly shorn trees in a neighborhood I drive through every morning; all the trees looked like crazy hat racks. No—they looked worse—like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The trees looked maimed and butchered, as if an evil sorcerer had put a spell on them. Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie and the spell can’t be undone to make the trees whole and beautiful again.
More recently, the new owner of a piece of property directly across the street from my house took out more than 15 mature, 30-foot +, and at least 40-year-old trees in one day! When I went to work on Wednesday morning they were there; when I returned home that evening, not a tree remained. I was sick to my soul and still haven't completely recovered from that carnage. It was made worse for me because I was monitoring three pairs of nesting Lesser Goldfinches in the trees. I haven't heard them since and my resident Black Phoebe has also disappeared (a bird that has been around for the past two years).
And the final clincher was a post on LACoBirds listserv by David Ellsworth of San Pedro, who reported the destruction of numerous ACTIVE bird nests by city tree trimmers, not to mention the utter butchering of at least 60 palm trees.
So now I am now spearheading a project with my local Audubon chapter to affect some change to how the city and private citizens deal with trees, especially during the critical nesting season (typically April through August). I envision our mission as a two-pronged approach. First we write the guidelines, then we establish a hotline and staff it with a rotating group of Audubon volunteers to act as nest surveyors, monitors, and consultants to ensure the guidelines are followed to the letter. We will essentially be citizen wardens. Once that program is up and running, I am going to push for changing the city codes with respect to tree trimming and nesting birds, since there aren’t any now that are linked together in any meaningful way.
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP: If you live in Los Angeles County, I am asking all birders to please email me with reports of any known, pending, or recent tree 'trimming' by the City of Los Angeles or homeowners that have disturbed or killed nesting birds and their young. If you can get photos of the work (preferably while the work is in progress) or post-work, and any names of the contractors doing the work (name of company & phone if possible), I would very much appreciate it.
AT A MINIMUM, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY REPORT ANY TREE 'TRIMMING' THAT IS ACTIVELY TAKING PLACE IN KNOWN NESTING SITES TO THE CA FISH & GAME HOTLINE: (888) 334-2258 TO HAVE THE WORK HALTED. Put this number in your cell phone or keep in handy in your wallet.
This is critical and urgent situation that needs our immediate and swift action. Any information you can provide will greatly assist us in our efforts to stop the killing of birds. By working together we can affect real change to help our bird friends; to help the creatures that have no voice and are the source of our joy!
PLEASE HELP SAVE THE BIRDS!