Senior Lifestyles

Birders near and far prepare for the big count

The mission of the Audubon Society is to raise awareness and appreciation of feathered creatures.

“We care about habitat preservation so that birds can survive,” said Barry Langdon-Lassagne, president of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.
He described how different birds prefer different habitats.

“For example,” Langdon-Lassagne said, “the western bluebird likes open, grassy areas. You can find them in most parks; it is a beautiful bird.”

Winged fauna of many species can be found in the nature preserves adjacent to Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. At Rancho San Antonio, a paved trail from the parking lot leads to Deer Hollow Farm. According to Langdon-Lassagne, next to the lot lies a vast stretch of green space. The American kestrel, smallest of the falcons, often hovers over fields hunting for mice and grasshoppers.

“Look up in the air and see if that bird is above,” he advised.

Redwood Grove, the thickly wooded oasis nestled in the heart of Los Altos off University Avenue, is home to a number of avian species, including turkey vultures and, in the spring, nesting great blue herons. Typical birds in forested areas include woodpeckers, the hermit thrush and the nuthatch.

“The nuthatch hangs upside down on branches looking for insects,” Langdon-Lassagne said. “Many types of wren are found in such places, and they sing beautifully.”

Shoreline Park in Mountain View is a haven for pond birds.

“The American coot lives in ponds and lakes, and there are a lot of them at Shoreline,” Langdon-Lassagne noted. “A number of species of ducks as well as Canada geese make their homes there.”

The Audubon Society annual Birdathon, a bird-counting event held every spring as birds migrate, supports the nonprofit conservation organization’s educational programs.

This year, due to the pandemic, the Birdathon kick-off event – set for 7-8:30 p.m. today – will be conducted virtually. Matthew Dodder, executive director of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, will explain what the Birdathon is all about, outline the goals for education in the coming year and share how teams work and how this year’s event is different from past ones.

The Audubon Society provides a list of birdwatching sites suitable for seniors, including preserves with paved trails, wheelchair access, seating and restrooms. Visit scvas.org/accessible-birding for details.

For a link to the Birdathon kickoff event, visit scvas.org/event-calendar/birdathon-kickoff-event.

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