By Pat Avery

First 2016 Birdathon Event A Great Success!

Thirty birders gathered at Sepulveda Basin on April 3 for a bird walk lead by Kris Ohlenkamp.  They were pleased with the return of the Yellow Warbler, Bell’s Vireo and Black-chinned Hummingbird – three summer resident nesting birds.  Also they spotted a Warbling Vireo on its way further north.  Among the birds sighted were six recently arrived Bullock’s Orioles, Cassin’s and Western Kingbirds and four Great Horned Owls.

Herons were also well represented – Great Blues, Green and Black-Crowned Night Herons plus Great and Snowy Egrets.  A very showy day!

The spectacular birding day yielded 66 species, surpassing Kris’s estimate for the day by 6 species. Thank you, Kris Ohlenkamp, for your leadership!  

2016 Big Sit – Once Again Proving Birds Come to Those Who Wait!

On a warm April 17, small, dedicated party of 4 birders converged on Sepulveda Basin to sit and watch.  Under the leadership of Jeanne Polak-Recht a total of 26 species were identified.  We were treated to a Red Tailed Hawk who posed on the railing leading down from the amphitheater, a Green Heron who fished within feet of us and two Canada Geese with three goslings cruising within yards of us.  Thank you, Jeanne, for your leadership.

Malibu Creek State Park – A Favorite 2016 Birdathon Event!

Nine birders gathered at Malibu Creek State Park on April 17.  It was a warm, breezy day for the bird walk led by Art Langton.  In total 45 species were identified including the target species – Lazuli Bunting, Black-Headed Grosbeaks, Blue Grosbeaks, Bullock’s Orioles and Yellow Warblers.  Thank you, Art, for your leadership and generously sharing your knowledge of birding!


O’Melveny Park – 2016 Birdathon Hotspot

On Tuesday, April 19th a group of dedicated birders converged on O’Melveny Park under the leadership of Carolyn Oppenheimer.  Undeterred by warm temperatures they identified Phainopepla, Black-headed Grossbeak, Western Kingbird, Black-throated Gray Warbler, California Quail, White-breasted Nuthatch, Spotted Towhee, Western Bluebird, White-crowned Sparrow, and Warbling Vireo.  And they saw hummers – Anna’s, Allen’s and Black-chinned.  An impressive list! In total 31 species were seen.  Thank you, Carolyn, for your leadership, dedication and sharing your passion for birding.  


Jim Moore’s Antelope Valley Big Day – A Birdathon Tradition

Twelve dedicated birders met Jim Moore at the crack of dawn on April 20th  and kept birding until nightfall. They birded at ten locations that included Piute Ponds, Apollo Park, Butterbredt Spring, Jawbone Canyon and Galileo Hill.  In total of 113 species were identified.  Of special note were Bell’s Vireo, Long-eared Owl, Roadrunner, Plumbeous Vireo, Tricolored Blackbird and Lesser Nighthawk.  Thank you, Jim, for your leadership and contributions to birding.   

 Morongo Valley 2016 Birdathon Field Trip

On April 23 birders converged on Morongo Valley and then went on to Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park.

Led by Richard Barth they identified 61 species. Some of the notables were Vermilion Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Costa’s Hummingbird, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, White-winged Dove, Yellow-breasted Chat, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Cactus Wren.  A Gray Flycatcher was a good find and brought considerable discussion. Thank you, Richard, for sharing your expertise and all your contributions to birding.

2016 Simi Hills Birdathon Event a Damp Experience!

A small group of dedicated birders met early in the morning on May 6 for the Fourth Annual Simi Hills-Santa Susana Mountains Birdathon event benefiting the San Fernando Valley Bird Observatory (SSFL). Beginning at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, they quickly tallied up quite a few species, and it looked like they were on their way to a banner day.

But then Mother Nature decided to hand out a late season rain, which began as a light drizzle but rapidly built up to a downpour just before noon.  They sat out the downpour while having lunch and then continued their survey at SSFL under what appeared to be clearing skies.  After making their way to Sage Ranch, they were hit again by another downpour after a few minutes on the trail.  Upon reaching their next site, Chatsworth Oaks Park just after 1 p.m., the rain showed no signs of letting up.  So they decided to wrap it up and ended the day much wetter than they started!

The tally for their effort was 42 species, almost all of them observed at SSFL.  Highlights of the day were a Golden Eagle, flocks of Cedar Waxwings, good numbers of Lazuli Buntings, Hooded Oriole, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and numerous California Quail.  Other raptors included several American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, a Cooper's Hawk, and a Red-shouldered Hawk.  Silvernale Pond rewarded us with multiple American Coot families with cootlets and dozens of breeding Red-winged Blackbirds.  Notable misses included all grosbeaks, warblers, vireos, and even Black Phoebe!  All in all, it was a good day, especially considering the conditions.

Children’s 2016 Birdathon Huge Success

The Chidren's Birdathon lead by Paula Orlovich was a success!! Ten children from Mar Vista Elementary School attended with their parents and teacher Marne Treves. The children were very excited to spot birds and record their findings. Over 20 species were recorded.  A couple of students who are more advanced birders did identity more birds.  Each child kept their own records.

The highlight of their walk was viewing a Nuttall’s Woodpecker's tree cavity nest. They were delighted to see the adult return to the nest with food.  They watched a baby poke its head out of a perfectly round opening and grab the food. Special thanks go to Jeanne and Kathy for their time and positive leadership.  Thank you, Paula, for your leadership of this event and for introducing children to the world of birding!

While all Birdathon events are now over, there is still time to contribute to the 2016 Birdathon fundraising drive. The funds raised through Birdathon enable SFVAS to host thousands of school children in the Sepulveda Basin Environmental Education Program, support the San Fernando Valley Bird Observatory, contribute to habitat conservation efforts, and continue the SFVAS mission to increase public awareness and appreciation of wildlife and the natural environment.


2016 Birdathon Event Results



Event place


Probable Species Count

Actual Species Count



Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve

Kris Ohlenkamp




Big Sit at Sepulveda Basin

Jeanne Polak-Recht




Malibu Creek State Park

Art Langton





Lori Willis Memorial Fund

Ballona Wetlands, Del Rey Lagoon

John and Andrew Willis




O'Melveny Park

Carolyn Oppenheimer




Antelope Valley Big Day

Jim Moore




Morongo Valley

Field Trip

Richard Barth




LA and Orange Counties “24 hour marathon”

Allan and Muriel Kotin




Simi Hills & Santa Susana Mts.

Mark Osokow




Children's Birdathon at Sepulveda Basin

Paula Orlovich





Thank you, everyone for a very successful Birdathon event this year. We raised over $5,000 dollars, money which will be put to good use funding our programs that are free to the public and to schoolchildren. Thanks again!

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