While color-changing trees and native plants beginning to leaf might catch the eye of Orange County residents desperate for signs of autumn, there are more clues high in the sky that fall is upon us: birds! October was peak season for fall migration, and luckily the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks’ balmy Mediterranean climate provides a perfect escape from colder temperatures for the large variety of migratory birds making their way south.
Along this trail in Limestone Canyon, Conservancy staff and volunteers are restoring native habitat over 17 acres, enabling more wildlife to settle here. The additional habitat also makes it a welcoming place for migratory birds and a great location for birding. The yellow-rumped warblers and white-crowned sparrows have returned to the Landmarks, and other birds commonly seen in this area include the red-tailed hawk, acorn woodpecker and barn owl. Birds migrate primarily for nutrition, seeking out more ample resources for food and nesting locations. Those nesting in the northern hemisphere migrate to where insects are in abundance and leafy spring growth affords them better nesting opportunities. Once those resources subside, the birds then head back south – a pattern true for the majority of the more than 650 species that nest in North America.
Migratory species can offer memorable seasonal bird-watching opportunities for visitors to the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. In addition to Beginning Birding: Why Birds Matter, those interested in strengthening their bird-identification skills during this special time of the year can also attend Better Birding Basics: Birding by Ear on Thursday, Nov. 19. These programs are free with required registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to the event. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more details on these activities or to register, click the titles above or visit www.letsgooutside.org/activities.