With temperatures hitting 80 degrees this week in southern California, it might be hard to believe that we marked the first day of fall on September 22nd. While we might not see dramatic seasonal changes like the leaves changing color back east, there are many changes to see if you look closely! As the days begin to shorten, watch for late season flowers in bloom, including sand aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia), clustered tarweed (Deinandra fasciculate) and twiggy wreath plant (Stephanomeria virgate). These plants offer important resources for local birds and other pollinators.
Twiggy wreath plant
One of our most exciting seasonal changes is the fall migration of birds into and out of Southern California. As we say goodbye to birds such as the Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Wilson’s Warbler, we are able to say hello once again to the Yellow-rumped Warbler and Hermit Thrush.
The Northern Arctic Tern, which travels up to 24,000 miles a year, holds the record for the longest migration path of any migratory bird. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of energy for a bird to travel such a long distance. You may be asking yourself, why not stay in one place like most of us humans do? The simplest answer is that birds leave one area when the resources that they rely on become less abundant and move to another area where resources are more abundant. Birds depend heavily on the plant community where they make their home to provide them with shelter, food and places to nest. Without these resources, birds are unable to thrive.
Whether you are out on the trail hiking, taking a bike ride, or volunteering at one of our stewardship events, it’s always a good time to look for birds! Keep your eye out for some of these fall migrants:
- Sharp-shinned Hawk
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Hermit Thrush
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet
- Townsend’s Warbler
- White-crowned Sparrow
Join our next birding walk in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on Sunday, October 29th and benefit from our volunteer naturalists’ expertise as they point out and identify both local and migratory birds!
National Pollinator Week is June 19-25! Pollinators are incredibly important to the plants and animals that live in our local wildlands. The process of pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from one flower to another through the wind or with the help of an animal that is looking to make nectar its next meal. These animals inadvertently get pollen attached to their bodies and carry it along to the next flower. Once a flower has been pollinated, it will produce fruit which provides resources for animals as well as seeds to make new plants.
The ideal home for a pollinator includes a wide variety of native plants that are clustered together. Pollinators need food all year round, not just in the spring when the wildflowers bloom, so it’s essential to have late flowering plants such as Epilobium canum (California fuchsia) and Deinandra fasciculata (clustered tarweed) mixed into the habitat.
From the miniscule Ceratina bee to the iconic monarch butterfly, pollinators come in many different shapes and sizes. According to the Xerces Society, there are 1,200 – 1,500 native bee species and over 200 butterfly species in California. Butterflies and bees aren’t the only pollinators that you can find while out exploring. Even bats and male mosquitoes can be pollinators! Next time you’re out enjoying the open space, watch for flowers that have hummingbirds, ants, flies, and flower beetles collecting nectar and pollen.
Help Laguna Canyon Foundation celebrate National Pollinator Week by doing your part to protect our open space. To promote diversity of pollinators, we need to work together to protect, preserve, and restore as much native habitat as possible. Sign up for an event at the Native Plant Nursery in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to help participate in seed collecting, seed starting and plant care on the second Saturday of every month. With your help, these native species will be planted into the park and will help to support our local pollinators.
Laguna Canyon Foundation was formed to preserve and protect the South Coast Wilderness. We accomplish this through unique partnerships with land managers, City and County leadership, park users and the environmental community. Together, we can #keepitwild and #protectwhatyoulove.
If you have ever taken a hike or a ride in Aliso and Woods Canyons or in Laguna Coast Wilderness or even driven by the open space, then you’ve seen the rich and diverse ecosystem we are privileged to live near. We have a collective responsibility to ensure the inhabitants – both plants and animals – have their place to call home.
Coyotes have been in North America for thousands of years and, because of regular encroachment to their habitat, coyotes remain very adaptable. The coyotes’ preferred space is the open grassland, but they will, of course, go where there is food. They are omnivores with an excellent sense of smell and they are skilled hunters. Coyotes are nocturnal animals; however, if outside forces (including humans) cause imbalance in their environment and adaptation is necessary, coyotes will hunt during the day.
Coyotes are loyal, often mating for years to raise pups, which are birthed every spring (April/May). Coyotes’ social organization is built around the mated pair and includes packs, solitary residents, and nomads.
The name coyote is a Spanish derivative of the original Aztec name, coyotl, which means “barking dog.” Coyotes communicate with howls, yelps and huffs. Local Laguna residents often describe the sound as “lighting up with the canyon” with coyote song. When a coyote howls, it is communicating its location to other coyotes. Yelps often mean celebration or discipline with pups and adolescents. Huffing is a coyote’s whisper to its young.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife have an initiative called, “Keep Me Wild.” Its slogan is: “Wild animals don’t need your handouts. They need your respect.” How fitting as Laguna Canyon Foundation strives to #KeepItWild. As stated on the CDFW’s website:
[We] may not realize it … but a simple bag of garbage, bowl of pet food, or plate of leftovers left outside our home or in a neighboring park can cause severe harm to wildlife. Most wild animals keep their distance – so long as they remain fully wild.
If coyotes lose their natural fear of humans, they become bolder, less wild, and more dependent on us. A few tips to #keepitwild:
- If you see a coyote near you, haze it. Make loud noises and big gestures. If you have a jacket, wave it like a cape, making yourself big. If necessary, throw rocks near the coyote.
- When walking your dogs, keep them on a leash. Coyotes are clever and can lure domestic dogs to a vulnerable place where you cannot protect your pet.
- Seal garbage cans; pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles. Do not leave trash anywhere.
- Install motion sensitive lighting around your house and switch up its location from time to time. Remember, coyotes are smart.
- Above all, keep your pets inside! An outdoor cat or small dog left alone in a yard is a prime target for hunting coyotes.
For more tips and information, talk to an OC Park Ranger, visit the Nix Nature Center or go to: