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Grab Your Binoculars — San Diego Bird Fest Starts Thursday

Acorn Woodpecker photographed at Oak Hill Memorial Park in Escondido.
Acorn Woodpecker photographed at Oak Hill Memorial Park in Escondido.
Grab Your Binoculars — San Diego Bird Fest Starts Thursday
Grab Your Binoculars — San Diego Bird Fest Starts Thursday GUESTS:Chris Redfern, executive director, San Diego Audubon SocietyJennifer Hajj, coordinator, San Diego Audubon's annual Bird Festival

This is KPBS midday edition, I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It is a birders delight. The 19th annual bird festival begins this Thursday. There are events planned all over the county for first-time birdwatchers, where b irdwatchers, people listen for birds, Roberts, take pictures of birds, who specialize in coastal birds, you get the idea. There's a flock of different entities for Bird devotees. The San Diego Audubon Society is sponsoring the Bird Fest and emphasizing the environmental and conservation benefits of maintaining bird habitats. The lower of rising up with the sun and tracking down a yellow billed cuckoo still remains a mystery for many people who are not birders. Joining me to share their enthusiasm about birding are Chris Redfern, executive director of the San Diego Audubon Society, Chris welcome back. Jennifer Hodge is coordinator of the San Diego Audubon annual Bird Festival. Why do you describe San Diego as a birders paradise? ________________________________________ Here in San Diego, we have more species of birds that have been reported here, over 500, then just about any other place than the lower 48. This is a birders paradise and people come from all over the country and all over the world to see the birds they will be seeing. ________________________________________ How do you explain that? Why do we have so many birds? ________________________________________ It has to do with the habitat types we have in San Diego. If you think about our habitats from the West going east we have pelagic birds in the ocean. We have shorebirds along the shoreline. We have a very specialized coastal sage scrub habitat along the coastline and up into the mountains we have the mountainous habitats with coniferous forest in the desert beyond there. It is a patchwork of habitats that attract all sorts of different species and on top of that we're sitting underneath the Pacific lie awake which is a virtual highway of migration for birds. Put those things together and you get the perfect storm of great birding. ________________________________________ Jennifer, what would you say how popular birding is? ________________________________________ There are some people say that birding is more popular than golf. There are more people participate in birding at some level whether they are just backyard birders looking at hummingbirds at the feeders or spending money to go on trips to see that one species they have it checked off there list it. 'S. ________________________________________ How did you get into birding, Jennifer? ________________________________________ I was with friends doing some travel and they happen to be birders and they had their binoculars and there will always looking at something. And every time they were looking I was kind of feeling left out. ________________________________________ I've heard this from more than one person that this is the kind of thing that sort of like grabs you. You go may maybe saying I have to go with my boyfriend or my mother-in-law and all of a sudden you get interested in it. What is interesting about it, Jennifer? ________________________________________ Birds have such personality. There behaviors are interesting. They are always there active up to foraging or mating behaviors or anything they are doing is really interesting. I think the fact that they fly can be fear inspiring to a lot of people. ________________________________________ Yeah. Birders keep lists of the birds they have seen? ________________________________________ Yes they do. ________________________________________ Is that essential to bird watching? ________________________________________ No, not everybody does it. I would say the people who list and check off birds and make a big deal out of that are certainly the most serious of birders. ________________________________________ Okay but if you just want to go for a stroll in see nice bird you don't necessarily have to keep a list. Chris, in addition to keeping these lists, many birders develop the ability to recognize birdsongs and I'd like to play a few from birds found in San Diego County and you can tell us what we are listening to. ________________________________________ Maureen, that is the endangered California -- and we look forward to hearing that sound every spring. The -- come from the South off the coast of Mexico and the golf down there up to San Diego and point northward to nest and raise there young in the summertime. That is a very happy some for us in San Diego. They are back and we are ready to take care of them in see them through their breeding season. ________________________________________ Let's listen to another one. ________________________________________ That when is the rent had and the rent it is the fastening bird, it has been called the voice of the chaparral. It is the focal species of our chaparral species. It is much more often heard than seen because it inhabits this dense visitation. It's a wonderful thing to hear the echoing in our can you and other coastal habitats throughout Stijn Diego. ________________________________________ Let's go for the last one. ________________________________________ ________________________________________ That beautiful sound is a mountain chickadee and that is one of our more common mountain species we see in the pine forests. ________________________________________ The first two sound pretty much alike to me. The mountain chickadee, that was lovely. I like that one. ________________________________________ The typical chickadee sort of sound. They are beautiful little bird, a tiny bird with the big white and black head and you can see them flipped upside down on tree branches pecking away at the insects and seeds they can find in the upper canopy of the pine. ________________________________________ Chris, I asked Jennifer what drew her and what she thinks draws people to this topic, what would you say draws people to this hobby? ________________________________________ Maureen, the San Diego Audubon is thought of as a birding organization. We are that but we are much more than that. For us, birds are kind of an entry point for people to engage with wider conservation issues. Because it is wildlife we see every day. You wake up in your those birds, you walk at your back door in see those birds. This morning my daughter and I were having breakfast and we spotted a spotted totally scratching around for his breakfast. ________________________________________ I've never heard of that. ________________________________________ It is beautiful black and rusty color bird with white spots. It is a gorgeous bird and fairly common here in San Diego. What we hope is a conservation organization is by drawing people into this fascination with birds we can engage them into wider issues related to land use and climate change in things we need to think about to keep our communities and earth healthy. ________________________________________ Chris, bird birdwatchers are actually playing that kind of a role in conservation and habitat protection right here in San Diego? ________________________________________ The most famous citizen science project in the world is the Christmas Bird Count and that is meant going on since 1900 so they did there 114th count throughout the country and tens of thousands of birders go out in the wintertime to count birds, not just the species but how many. That has provided a long-term data set for scientists to look at and trends in bird populations. Other citizen science products include E bird which is a way to go online or on your phone and putting bird observations and there've been over 100 million observations put into this E bird system which has been established by the corner lab of ornithology which provided the nice clips for us. And the national Audubon. That system is showing have birds are responding to climate change and how their migration patterns are shifting northward, usually 30 or 40 miles n orthward. ________________________________________ So the people counting the birds and people tracking the birds are actually monitoring in a sense climate change and how it's affecting bird populations and the earth in general. ________________________________________ Even your locally we have a program for the in danger California -- and that program engages dungeons of avid birders that love to watch birds. They come out and oversee -- when a predator arrives to take the eggs or killed the chicks or the adults they can contact the folks that can relocate those birds. We had a couple of summers ago a falcon, that species had been endangered and now is not and is killing -- it was trapped in took and took a long ride up to the Oregon border. It is important for us to help protect those birds so birders are helping us do that. ________________________________________ Jennifer, would you say are some of the highlights of this year's Bird Festival? What are you looking forward to? ________________________________________ We have expanded the activities we are making available free of charge. We have a number of activities on Saturday and Sunday of the festival and you can come on down and see it live bird programs or go to a program where you can learn how to choose the best binoculars for the way you like to look at birds or programs on travel, all whole lot of different things available no matter what your interest is. If you like books we had huge book sales at our Expo. So many opportunities for people to engage in birds and learn more about birds in the way they are interested. ________________________________________ Jennifer, does the bird festival attract people from outside San Diego County? ________________________________________ It sure does. We have people from 25 other states that come just firmer bird festival. I think her furthest traveler is coming from Sweden. ________________________________________ That is a long way to come. Chris, what are some birds in San Diego that out-of-towners are particularly interested in seeing? ________________________________________ One story I love to relate is we host folks from Great Britain at times. In Great Britain there are no hummingbirds. When people come from Great Britain, they call them butchers over there. They fall head over heels for our hummingbirds so they will pull out there lenses and take a hundred snapshots of what we consider to be a common garden bird. ________________________________________ Even I know what a hummingbird is. ________________________________________ It is fun to share those birds with people with other parts of the country and the world. When you get among a group of bird watching enthusiasts, is there a sense of comraderie? Is there a lot of shoptalk from a Chris? ________________________________________ Certainly, yes. Is even a list that help people find that were particular rare birds are at a particular time so you will find birders descending on a neighborhood with their binoculars and their scopes and their cameras to be able to share in that special moment of seeing a bird they have not been able to see yet. ________________________________________ I want to ask you both, wrist Jennifer, there are a number of beginning birding events at this festival, what should people know before they start setting out to watch birds? ________________________________________ That's an interesting question. I don't think they need to know a lot. I think that is really the best thing about birding. It is accessible to anybody wherever they are right now. If you know one or two species of birds, you can use that as a jumping off point for learning more and you can continually add to what you know as you gain skill and you can add new habitats and keep track of what you were seeing, then all of a sudden you are noticing you're getting really good at it. ________________________________________ Chris, should people go out with someone who knows what they're doing? Should they make sure they where certain types of close? ________________________________________ No. I think you can learn this by yourself easily. It does help to come with someone who can help you identify the birds. That makes it a richer experience I think, but it's not necessary to go with someone who is experienced. ________________________________________ You can just go out with your binoculars and watch them. ________________________________________ Sure. There are very easy to use guides. You don't have to buy the 500 page Bible of all the bird you could possibly see. You can get the cards that show the top 50 or 100 birds in you can get started on your own. Many are easy to recognize. ________________________________________ One way to get a head start on this is to attend the 19th annual San Diego bird festival. It begins tomorrow and continues through the weekend. You can check out the activities at the San Diego Audubon Society .org. Chris Redfern is the executive director of the San Diego Audubon Society -- thank you very much.

Bird Songs

Click the links below to hear songs from birds of the San Diego County coast, chaparral and mountains.

California Least Tern


Mountain Chickadee

It's a birder's delight. The 19th annual San Diego Bird Festival begins Thursday.

There's a flock of different activities for bird devotees throughout San Diego County during the four-day event hosted by the San Diego Audubon Society.

Events range from seeing birds at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla to a birding trip through Escondido that ends at Stone Brewery.

Chris Redfern, executive director of the San Diego Audubon Society, said hundreds of different birds live in the county.

"Here in San Diego, we have more species of birds than just about any other place," Redfern told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. "This is a birder's paradise."

Jennifer Hajj, coordinator of the festival, said some would say birding is more popular than golf. She said the interests in birds vary.

"Their behaviors are really interesting — anything that they do is really interesting," Hajj said. "I think the fact that they can fly be very inspiring to people."