Birds make nests in all kinds of places. Some carefully arrange sticks and twigs up high in the branches of tall trees. Others make nests out of mud or nest right on the ground. The coastal cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus sandiegensis) makes its home in patches of old-growth prickly pear cactus, which protects it from predators and the elements. Recent fires and past land uses have diminished the number of mature cactus stands in the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, so local organizations are working to bring back coastal cactus wren habitat – and you can help.
The Mule Deer Restoration Project in the City of Irvine Open Space Preserve, led by Irvine Ranch Conservancy, seeks to improve coastal cactus wren habitat. Building on successful restoration projects nearby, the Conservancy is working to restore more than two acres of habitat, including a number of cactus patch plantings. This ongoing restoration project is part of an overall plan for “habitat linkages,” which will eventually connect patches of existing cactus wren habitats within line-of-sight of each other. The coastal cactus wren is not a strong flyer, so fledglings looking for their own place to live don’t often fly very far from where they were reared. Stands of cactus have to be relatively close to each other for the wrens to move among them.
Members of the public are welcome to participate in volunteer projects in this habitat restoration project. On the morning of Friday, April 17, the Conservancy will host “Be a Friend to a Cactus Wren.” During this habitat restoration event, volunteers will help by removing invasive, non-native plants, and by watering native plants. Join Conservancy staff and Land Stewards on the of slopes Shady Canyon in the Irvine Open Space Preserve to help bolster the prickly pear cactus habitat.
All training, tools and gloves will be provided. This activity is held on the 3rd Friday of each month. Click here to register for this month’s restoration activity, and you can see all upcoming Mule Deer Restoration volunteer events here. These programs are free and require pre-registration for all participants (children must attend with their parent or guardian). Wear long pants, comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. To find out more information about other offered programs, please visit www.LetsGoOutside.org/activities.