Altacal Audubon Society

A California Chapter of the National Audubon Society

Mission: To promote the awareness, appreciation, and protection of native birds and their habitats through education, research, and environmental activities.

Help Wanted!

In all our areas of interest (e.g., Field Trips, Education, Conservation, etc.) we are trying to get things done more efficiently and effectively by asking members to contribute in any way they can by contacting a Committee Chairperson or other Board member and offering to help in some area of interest.  There's no need to sign on for a particular position or office and you can be sure you'd be appreciated.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED - 15th Annual SNOW GOOSE FESTIVAL of the Pacific Flyway, January 21 - 25, 2015

Altacal Audbon Society plays a huge role in organizing and hosting this wonderful community event. The Altacal board and several members are involved at all levels. Making a difference in our community is what we all strive to do. We are hoping for an even more successful event this year! If you are interested in volunteering please call Jennifer Patten for further information at 345-9356 or

Hobbyist Survey

Dr. Gail Jones from North Carolina University invites Altacal members (and others) to take a Hobbyist Survey at

What is the purpose of this study?
The purpose of this letter is to invite you to participate in a research study “Science Hobbyists” designed to investigate characteristics and educational experiences of people who are active in science hobbies. More and more people are engaging in science hobbies and schools and science centers would like to know more about characteristics of science hobbyists and how organizations might better support hobbyists’ networking and education.  Hobbyists can be a wonderful asset to communities and support for science across the county.

Support us by becoming a member: Membership Application (PDF)

Saw-whet Olw Adoption

Northern Saw-whet Owl project and ADOPT AN OWL!

Altacal Audubon Society is proudly sponsoring Dawn Garcia and her banding crew as they continue researching the migration ecology of the Northern Saw-whet Owl (ageolius acadicus).  Their project was the recent focus of the Greenways Column in the Chico News and Review, (

Dawn also recently launched an "Adopt an Owl" program that will help support the long-term monitoring of the owl. Check out her blog at, to learn more about the owl project and how to ADOPT AN OWL! The package includes a owl certificate, project brochure, and letter of thanks for your tax free donation.

Upcoming Programs

THE SACRAMENTO RIVER - Its Habitat and Bank Swallows
Part of the Sac River Trust’s River Road Show Program
Monday, September 15, 2014 6:30 p.m., Chico Creek Nature Center

Lucas RossMerz, Executive Director for the Sacramento River Preservation Trust (Sac River Trust), will be bringing their River Road Show to the Altacal Audubon meeting on September 15th. Lucas’ presentation will give a quick overview of the history of the Sacramento River and then focus the majority of the program on a very special avian species that lives and breeds in the banks of the mighty Sacramento River - the Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia). The Sac River Trust was founded to protect riparian corridor banks and the natural river processes of the Sacramento River in 1984. Since the founding of the Sac River Trust they have been especially interested in protecting the habitat threatened and endangered species need to survive and thrive. Bank Swallows are a State-listed Threatened Species that winter in Central and South America and then return to California’s rivers to breed. Bank Swallows need specific soil types and cut bank profiles in order to create colonies and successfully reproduce. Lucas is the coordinator for the Bank Swallow Technical Advisory Committee’s Outreach and Education Sub-Committee and is excited to bring this special species to life for all of the members and guests in attendance at the September Altacal Audubon meeting.

Born in Chico, Lucas is a native to the region and shares an intimate relationship with the Sacramento River. As the Executive Director for the Sac River Trust, he manages environmental document review, outings and float trips, organizes public outreach activities, and gives educational presentations about the Sacramento River Watershed. Lucas earned a B.S. at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in Environmental Management and Protection in 2010, concentrating his studies on water resource policy issues and hydrologic systems. Lucas is happy to be a voice for the Sacramento River, our largest and most valuable river in California.

Upcoming Bird Walks and Birding Trips

All of our field trips are open to beginning birders.  Anyone with a sense of wonder is welcome to participate.

August 17, Sunday - Chico Oxidation Ponds Wildlife Sanctuary. We will get a personal and upclose view of the Fall shorebird migration at the Oxidation Ponds Wildlife Sanctuary at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, west of Chico. It will be great to see what shows up next. We’ve already had two Least Terns. Yellow-headed blackbirds, Great-tailed Grackle, plovers, rails, yellowlegs, sandpipers, dowitchers, returning waterfowl and unexpected migrants. The walk is under 2 miles and about 3 hours. For shorter, you can walk out to the viewing blind. The walk is flat and pretty easy going.

Meet at the Oxidation Pond parking area at 3 pm. Afternoon keeps the sun at our back. We should be back to the lot by 6 pm. To get to the Oxidation Ponds, go west on W 5th St from Hwy 32 in Chico. Follow W 5th St, which becomes Chico River Rd, for 3.9 miles. The wildlife viewing parking area is 300 yards past the main entrance to the water treatment plant, on the left. Bring binoculars, spotting scopes, water, walking shoes and proper clothing for the expected weather conditions.  There is a chemical toilet on the way out to the viewing area. Rain cancels. Contact: Matthew Forster:

August 24, Sunday - Monterey Seabird Trip. We will be joining John Sterling and Todd Easterla out of Monterey to try our luck on a Monterey Seabird Trip. They have far-and-away the best boat captain in the region, Richard Ternullo, an amazing naturalist with a degree in biology and several decades of experience in Monterey Bay. His knack for getting the boat aligned in the water to allow the best looks at birds and marine mammals is legendary. All trips feature excellent, knowledgeable, highly-experienced and friendly leaders (no Annie Auklets on our boat! - if you’ve seen The Big Year movie, you know what I’m talking about). Read about their trip leaders at

We will be driving down on Saturday and will be camping so make sure to bring appropriate attire and gear. We will be returning Sunday, after the trip is completed. The price is $130 per person and goes from 7:30 am - 3 pm. This trip is limited, so if interested, please contact immediately. Matt Forster,, 619-347-2269

September 5 - 7, Friday - Sunday - Point Reyes National Seashore. Trip Leader: Jennifer Patten . Point Reyes National Seashore is well known for its excellent birding. The seashore and surrounding areas offer many different habitats from grasslands, estuaries, and coastal scrub to forests. The projection of the Point Reyes peninsula some 10 miles seaward from the “mainland” makes Point Reyes National Seashore a landing spot for many vagrants - birds that may have made errors in navigation and thus are unexpected in this area. Each fall these vagrants seek out resting spots along the peninsula on their way south. Some of these rarities have included Black-throated Blue Warbler, American Redstart, White-throated Sparrow, Palm Warbler and Prothonotary Warbler. We will visit these vagrant traps (resting spots), such as the Fish Docks, the lighthouse rocks and cliff areas, Abbott’s Lagoon, Tomales Bay, Drake’s Beach, Bear Valley,  Olema Marsh and the famous historic ranches along the way.

We will camp Friday and Saturday night at Olema Campground. Please contact Jennifer Patten at 530 345-9356 or if you are interested in going. Trip is limited to 12.

September 14, Birds & Trees Walk - CSUC Butte Creek Ecological Preserve. Trip Leader: Joseph O’Neil, Certified Arborist. We will explore the native trees, shrubs and fall migrant birds of Butte Creek. This is a 3 to 4 mile intermediate hike along the creek (and over some logs) down to the pond. Green Heron, Wood Ducks, Yellow-breasted Chats, Hairy Woodpecker and Coopers Hawks have been some of the many species seen here in mid September. Beavers, otters and jumping salmon may also be seen. Bring sturdy shoes/boots, water, and snacks for this 3 hour hike. Meet at the parking lot of the preserve at 8 am. The preserve is on Honey Run Road about 3 miles off the Skyway, just past 1182. For information contact Joseph O’Neil at

September 21, Sunday Feather River Nature Center and Native Plant Park Oroville. Trip Leader: Dawn Garcia. 7:30 to noon. Prepare for an amazing number of jumping Chinook salmon, birds, including our local oak woodland, riparian residents with potential great looks at Rufous-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Swift and Phainopepla, and a lovely walk on the Feather River. Lots of history, native plants and birding. Bring snacks, water, sunscreen, binoculars. From Chico take Hwy 99 to Oroville. Take the Garden St exit. Turn left at the stop. At the next stop take a right on Table Mountain Blvd. Go straight through a couple of lights to the round-about and turn into Old Ferry Road. Park near the Chinese Bath House. Contact Dawn Garcia, 530 513-1785

Uncommon Birds -

Bank Swallow

Altacal Audubon Society has had an exciting opportunity to create an educational brochure to inform landowners along the Sacramento River about Bank Swallows (Riparia riparia), their nesting habitat, and incentive programs to help protect them.    Members Carolyn Short, Raina King and I were awarded a grant to create the brochure and companion website by the Fund for Wild Nature. Go to to learn more about this species population on the Sacramento River.

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Current Newsletter

Newsletter Archives

Board of Directors

Altacal Strategic Plan (2010)

Membership Application (printable PDF)

Gift Contribution (printable PDF)

Trip Reports

National Audubon Society

Audubon California

National List of Audubon Chapters

Central Valley Bird Club

SFSU Sierra Nevada Field Campus

Local Birding Sites

Joe Morlan's California Birding

Chico Creek Nature Center

Friends of the River

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Friends of Bidwell Park

Butte Environmental Council

California Wildlife Festival Calendar




eBird California bird identification

Local Blogs

North-state Naturalists

Liam Huber's banding experiences

Those Amazing Birds

Dawn Garcia's BirdBling Blog

Submission of Articles

Notices or articles submitted for publication consideration should be sent by e-mail message to the newsletter editor as Microsoft Word (if possible) attachments by the 1st of the month for the next issue of the newsletter (i.e., Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sep and Nov 1st) - – Thanks.

Attention Libraries!

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Altacal Audubon Society PO Box 3671 Chico, California 95927-3671