Bird Habitat Protection
Let's Band Together for the Birds
It's the Year of the Bird – an all-year celebration of all birds around the world! EAC has partnered as a supporter of this initiative sponsored by National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Orinthology, BirdLife International, and Audubon. The campaign raises awareness about all that birds do for us, and the hurdles they face in the future due to climate change, industrialization, and other obstacles. 2018 is especially significant, as it is the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which has protected millions of migratory birds. Today, over 1,300 species of birds are threatened, and 197 are critically endangered. Birds around the world need our help now more than ever.
EAC Takes Action
In response to concern from our local community around the vegetation management practices of Marin County, its contractors, and PG&E during nesting season, EAC is working to advocate for better bird nesting habitat protections in Marin County.
See 2017-2018 Updates Below!
Many of us are fortunate to live in Marin County, an area that provides diverse and excellent habitats for birds and other wildlife. Marin County's primary green spaces are located in West Marin, and are managed by a number of county, state and federal agencies. Birds and people alike flock to Marin's shores for respite and relaxation.
Birds are relatively easy to observe and are indicators of habitat quality. A healthy environment for birds also provides benefits to other wildlife and people. Parts of West Marin are world-renowned for bird watching and are designated as Important Bird Areas by the National Audubon Society.
Point Reyes National Seashore, named the number 1 birder hotspot of all national parks in 2017, has recorded 490 bird species or 54% of all North American bird species just within its borders, and easily claims the prize for the greatest avian diversity in any U.S. national park. Some of the factors responsible for attracting this amazing diversity are Point Reyes' optimal latitude, its diverse habitats, its location along the Pacific Flyway, and the shape of the peninsula, which acts as a geographic magnet.
Many birds remain resident all year long, but spring and fall migrations are important times for mating, nesting, egg development, and rearing of chicks. The most critical bird nesting season is March 1 through August 1. Wildlife protection and public safety concerns must be balanced to ensure a healthy environment for birds, which in turn, provides benefits for the ecosystem, fire safety, and recreational pursuits.
Birds are already under threat due to climate change, habitat loss, human disturbance, and pesticides world-wide, so let's band together for the birds in West Marin by asking our County Supervisors to create a bird nesting protection ordinance that will protect them when they need it the most!
Due to a number of incidents in 2015 and 2016, which led to the destruction of nests with eggs or chicks, EAC, with support from Point Blue Conservation Science (PBCS), and Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR), sent a letter to Marin County Supervisors on March 16, 2017 recommending a new county ordinance to better protect migratory birds during the most critical bird nesting season March 1 through August 1. Read full comment letter.
Establishment of Marin County Ordinance
It is our recommendation Marin County should adopt a comprehensive ordinance to protect migrating birds, nests, eggs, and young that includes:
- Recommendations as to when each type of vegetation and habitat should be trimmed or removed taking into account that different habitat types harbor different species at different times of the year.
- A restriction of vegetation maintenance work to the non-nesting season. This leaves seven months to undertake most clearing projects. Some species, such as hummingbirds, owls, jays, and towhees nest earlier (mid-December). An ordinance should take this into account.
- Exceptions could be made for imminent threats to human safety or property with review from a qualified biologist, but other maintenance should be scheduled outside bird nesting season.
- A requirement for prior bird nesting surveys if an agency or company wants to do vegetation management outside of approved seasons.
Alongside the ordinance, EAC also recommends the County create a program to educate maintenance staff, commercial arborists, and other entities who conduct vegetation work in the County about the existing laws (the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and California’s Fish and Game Section 3503) and require them to abide by the laws, which protect migrating birds, nests, eggs, and young.
We look forward to working with the Marin County of Supervisors are protecting our unique resources and bird populations in West Marin! Thank you for lending your voice to our petition!
September 2017 Update
Read our Press Release following EAC's involvement in a multi-stakeholder meeting convened in September by Supervisor Rodoni around current bird nesting protections and areas where improvement is needed. EAC again met with Supervisor Rodoni and his aide Rhonda Kutter on October 5, 2017 to continue discussions around the importance of ensuring that all county agencies have adequate best management practices in place, which would ideally include adjustments to work timing to avoid the nesting season, bird surveying conducted by a qualified biologist, training, public transparency, and accountability.
Also see the Point Reyes Light's July 2017 coverage of EAC's work on this important local issue.
JANUARY 2018 uPDATE: threats to the mbta
EAC continues to work with Marin County towards better bird protections, perhaps through a County-wide resolution to show the County's support for stronger bird protections.
Due to current threats to the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), it is critical that we implement stronger local protections. EAC has also joined other organizations in opposing any weakening of the MBTA. The problematic Cheney amendment was added to HR 4239, the SECURE American Energy Act. The provision would end any enforcement of “incidental take,” which means that industry would no longer be held responsible for bird deaths resulting from their activities.