31 January, 2023
The Monterey Audubon Society 2023 Calendar, featuring a Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) on the cover. Photo by Dan Marks.
With around 500 species, Monterey County is one of richest counties in birds in California. The deep-sea canyon just off the shores of Monterey Bay brings in an abundance of marine life that provides food for seabirds and shorebirds along the coast. Sandpipers and other wading birds abound in the wetlands of Elkhorn Slough, gulls and pelicans gather in the harbors of Moss Landing and Monterey, and lagoons where the Pajaro, Carmel, and Salinas rivers meet the Pacific provide havens for ducks, grebes, and a host of other birds. Some of these birds are year-round residents, while others travel hundreds or thousands of miles between their nesting and wintering grounds, like Whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus) and Marbled Godwits (Limosa fedoa).
A Marbled Godwit takes off from Del Monte Beach, Monterey, California. Photo by Dan Marks.
Sandy beaches provide nesting and foraging grounds for threatened species like Western Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus), and rocky outcrops provide nesting and foraging grounds for Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani). Point Lobos State Reserve, considered the crown jewel of the California State Parks system, provides sanctuary for cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba), Common Murres (Uria aalge), and many other species. Coastal sagebrush and wildflowers support an orchestra of sparrows, warblers, and wrens, and give rise to chaparral and oak woodlands graced by jays, kinglets, and chickadees. Hills and canyons covered with cypress, pines, and redwoods lead up into the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains and out to the fertile grasslands of the Salinas River Valley.
Amanda Preece leads a field trip for the Monterey Audubon Society. Photo courtesy of Dan Marks.
IBCP is pleased to have collaborated with Amanda Preece, Environmental Advocate for the Monterey Audubon Society (MAS), and talented photographer Dan Marks to produce a 2023 calendar featuring birds of Monterey Bay! MAS works almost entirely through volunteers to conserve and celebrate the birds and nature of the greater Monterey Bay region through education, citizen science, and environmental advocacy. The new MAS calendars are intended to further these efforts by showcasing some of the area’s stunning birds, including Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna; February), White-tailed Kite (Eleanus leucurus; July), and Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata; November), and raising awareness about them.
A White-tailed Kite hovers above Asilomar Beach, Monterey, California. Photo by Dan Marks.
The calendar highlights both the extraordinary beauty and spectacular diversity of Monterey area birds as well as opportunities for residents and visitors to be involved in monitoring and conservation efforts. These include the Snowy Plover Guardian Program and Black Oystercatcher Monitoring Project to help study and protect nesting shorebirds from being inadvertently trampled or killed by people and dogs visiting coastal areas where they nest and raise their chicks, as well as MAS Seawatch at Point Pinos in Pacific Grove, where seabirds are monitored and counted each year in November and December.
Local photographer Dan Marks, who grew up in Pacific Grove, produced all 14 striking photographs featured in the calendar. Photo courtesy of Dan Marks.
Engaging with birds is a great way to get outside, spend time with friends, and be inspired by some of the world’s loveliest and most fascinating creatures, many of which need our help to continue to survive and thrive! Opportunities to get involved through MAS include spring and summer bird banding in riparian woodland in Fort Ord, working to create nesting habitat for the rare Heermann’s Gull, and participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count. Anyone interested in learning more about birds, participating in field trips, or contributing to citizen science efforts is encouraged to contact Amanda at MAS. Happy birding!
Townsend’s Warbler (Dendroica townsendi), a winter visitor to Monterey, probes a bottle brush flower for insects. Photo by Dan Marks.