While many of the raptors spotted throughout Orange County are likely born and raised on the Landmarks, the Red-Tailed Hawk is the most abundant raptor species, mainly found in willows, oaks, eucalyptus, sycamores, cliffs and power towers. Other raptor species and nesters on the Landmarks include the Cooper’s Hawk, Golden Eagle, Barn Owl, Red-Shouldered Hawk and more.
With the help of biologist Peter H. Bloom and Bloom Biological Inc., Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff have worked to locate and identify nests on the lands. Raptor monitoring volunteers are trained to learn professional monitoring practices to avoid flushing birds from their nests or disturbing them in any way. Volunteers also learn other important factors such as maintaining a safe distance of at least 75 feet from the nest, while minimizing attention towards the nest and informing the Conservancy program coordinator about the discovery.
Once training is complete, volunteers are assigned a nest and begin monitoring visits to conduct surveys and document the raptor species.
However, this raptor experience is not limited to volunteers. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a walk through Bommer Canyon trails at Better Birding Basics: Birds of Bommer Canyon from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday, April 26. While passing through sycamore groves and grassland habitats of Bommer Canyon, you can expect to encounter a variety of birds such as hawks, owls, kites, woodpeckers, quail, meadowlarks and many others.
Take a moderate 2-mile hike through one of the most diverse plant communities in the United States to spot local native and seasonal resident birds on the Bird Walk in Nix/Little Sycamore on Sunday, April 28 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Be sure to wear hiking shoes and bring binoculars for the experience.
Join thousands of other outdoor enthusiasts at the annual Global Big Day Bird Walk at Newport Bay Nature Preserve to learn about local and migratory birds with other Orange County bird lovers. The Bird Walk will take place on Saturday, May 4 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Space is limited and registration is recommended.
Enjoy a spectacular experience at International Migratory Bird Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. The free festival will feature a variety of displays and exhibits from partner organizations along with games, crafts and other guest appearances. All ages are welcome to join.
Citizen Science programs like raptor monitoring provide an extraordinary opportunity to connect with and serve the land while also gaining a distinct experience with the wildlife on the Landmarks. For more information about Irvine Ranch Conservancy programs, hikes, and other activities visit LetsGoOutside.org. All activities offered are free with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event. Some programs are suitable for children 12 and over, and children must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.