Bird walk brings out avian enthusiasts

Dawn Varela
Staff Writer 

Local bird enthusiasts joined the Pomona Valley Audubon Society for a family friendly bird walk, a monthly event at the California Botanic Garden in Claremont Sunday.

“I just think it’s important to recognize not only the birds but the plants, you know the native species that we see all around us,” Audubon Society member Jenny Antoniak said.  

The Pomona Valley Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, with over 1,000 local members. The local chapter offers meetings, programs, free guided field trips and ongoing conservation projects. 

Scott Manroy of the Pomona chapter guided one of the two groups Sunday. 

Members and non-members brought binoculars to identify 21 species of birds in all.  

Manroy was able to identify a couple of birds by just listening to their calls or chirps. 

“My wife and I have been a member of the chapter for 15 years,” David Thorne, Pomona chapter member and University of La Verne College of Law alumnus, said. “This walk can be good particularly in the winter.” 

Two birds in particular that the group was excited to see were a California towhee and the acorn woodpecker. The acorn woodpecker is the Pomona chapter’s mascot.

The California towhee challenged group members by making them aware it was close by with its calls but remaining hidden in the bushes and trees. 

Toward the end of the walk, the towhee appeared, looking for food on the ground by scraping the floor with its feet. 

Birders call this the towhee shuffle. 

“If you come to look at birds, you should enjoy yourself while doing it,” Ken Burgdorff, another bird walk leader, said.

Antoniak enjoyed herself on the Sunday walk, she said, adding that she enjoys seeing hummingbirds – her favorite birds.

The Pomona chapter is currently working on a burrowing owl project.

In the Chino and Ontario area the burrowing owl was very common. However, over time due to loss of habitat and use of pesticides, their population has decreased. So the local Audubon Society is currently identifying nesting sites and monitoring them to reduce potential threats. 

“We are now in litigation to save those owls and possibly move them somewhere else,” Pomona chapter Conservation Director Brian Elliott said. “Burrowing owls aren’t (technically) endangered, they are just disappearing in our area.” 

The Audubon Society’s mission is to promote the protection, appreciation and enjoyment of birds and other wildlife through recreation, education and conservation. 

The Pomona chapter also works with local schools to help educate students through its Owl Pellets for Teachers program, which allows students to work together to dissect owl pellets and reconstruct the bones found inside, meanwhile learning about owl’s diet and habitat. 

The Pomona chapter holds meetings the first Thursday of each month.

For more information, visit pomonavalleyaudubon.org.

Dawn Varela can be reached at dawn.varela@laverne.edu. 

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