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California Quail

Conservation Concerns
(Ongoing Commitments By Our Chapter)

Click here for Current MDAS Take Action Campaigns

Eagles at Risk  |   Anticoagulant Pesticides  |   Cats Indoors  |   Burrowing Owls
American Kestrels   |   California Bluebird Recovery  |   Conservation Stamp Project

30 YEAR PERMITS for Wind Farms that "Accidentally" Kill Eagles?

Even though the 2017 UN Climate Convention has expressed great concern about "green energy" hazards for birds, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service claimed a 30-year permit policy would help protect eagles and encourage renewable energy. A Federal Court disagreed, and the Interior Department appeal was dropped.

Since the inception of wide-spread wind farm energy production, the threat to raptors generally - and eagles in particular - has been apparent. The new, larger, high-speed turbines, with tips that rotate at a speed near 200 mph have prompted protests about siting and monitoring concerns. National Audubon advocates "strong enforcement of the laws protecting birds" in its position statement on wind power.

MDAS was one of five local Audubon chapters which joined a suit along with the California Attorney General's office, seeking a way to avoid eagle deaths at Altamont Pass which resulted in a settlement aimed at measurable reductions. Unfortunately, the proposed USFWS "take" rule would not require that a mortality count of Golden Eagles be maintained by generator operators if they were taking measures to avoid killing them.

The importance of precise regional monitoring is underscored by the discovery of a dead male Golden Eagle in Walker Canyon, the last available breeding partner for the Shell Ridge female. A single death can affect the survivability for the species in an entire region. Although this mortality was caused by West Nile virus (see the Bat Boxes section of our Connecting People With Nature page), what is not counted cannot be monitored. Ongoing EBRPD radio-collar studies should reveal the true scope of the problem, because "Golden Eagle" sightings too often turn out to be misidentified dark-morph Red-tailed Hawks.

Radio Collared EagletBASQUE EAGLES
(The image on the left, courtesy Brian Murphy, Connecting People With Nature, is of an eaglet with a radio collar, later found dead below a wind generator in California when it was an adult. The image on the right is from GURELUR, an association of ecologists from Navarre, Spain, who shared this disturbing photo via Save The Eagles International.)
Amazingly, there is a better way which has not been adopted or even tested in the Altamont wind generation region! A "Bird Safe" Wind Turbine, as described in an EcoReport article by eagle expert Jim Weigand.

DON'T TAKE THE BAIT! AntiCoagulant Rat Poisons KillMDAS brochure Requires Acrobat Reader

Barn Owl

Barn Owls - innocent victims of rat poison

Anticoagulant rat poisons currently on the market (such as d-CON) contain highly toxic chemicals which interfere with the blood's ability to clot, resulting in uncontrollable internal bleeding and death. In addition to rodents, other animals that feed on poisoned rodents are also poisoned!

Victims include baby raptors which consume food their parents bring them and baby mammals nursing on their mothers' poisoned milk. Native wildlife suffering from secondary poisoning include hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes and mountain lions. These animals suffer miserable deaths because of anticoagulant poisons.

Children and pets are also poisoned.  According to the EPA, more than 10,000 children are accidentally exposed to rodenticides each year, and an estimated 7,000 pets are accidentally poisoned.   

NEW! - National Park Service flyer explains how park and open-space use of compounds like Diphacinone in gopher and ground squirrel baits take days to kill the rodetns, leaving them easy prey for rodent-feeding predators. Once a predator feeds on enough posioned rodents, it dies from poisoning. Secondary poisoning works exactly as the Environmental Hazard labels on the products say it will:
(also now available directly from MDAS here.


Successful rodent control consists of three elements: good sanitation practices, rodent-proofing structures and rodent killing.

  1. Practice good housekeeping in your environment.
    • Pick up bird seed waste.
    • Don’t leave pet food out, and store seed and pet food in pest-proof containers with tight-fitting lids.
    • Make sure garbage bags are tied tightly and secured, and close and lock dumpsters.
    • Remove excessive vegetation, piles of debris and English ivy; replace with native California plants which offer wildlife habitat.
    • Consider installing a barn owl nest box, but only if everyone in the neighborhood agrees not to use poison.
  2. Exclude rodents from your home by covering all gaps larger than ¼” with small-gauge wire mesh screening.
  3. Don’t use d-CON or other anticoagulant rodenticide.
    • Use snap traps for rodents remaining inside the structure.  Hire contractors who will not use poison but revisit to check snap traps. 
    • Consider alternatives such as electronic traps (the “Raticator”) or a new third generation rodenticide TERAD3.  Glue strips are not recommend, as they are inhumane and often trap other creatures.
  4. NEW! - Talk to Local Agencies responsible for parks and open spaces.
    • Make sure they are aware of the issues and the facts.
    • Require them to explain their decisions, particularly if they claim to be a "Certified Green Business".
    • Remind them that poisoning raptors is a felony enforced by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Download Mount Diablo Audubon Society's conservation flyer and share it with your friends!

FERAL AND FREE-RANGING FELINES: A Wildlife "Cat-astrophe" MDAS brochure Requires Acrobat Reader

Conservation Brochure Photo

The domestic cat is a non-native and invasive species. An estimated 600 million cats live worldwide, with approximately 160 million in the US. The domestic cat reaches sexual maturity at six months. Reproduction can occur throughout the year, and one female can produce up to 12 offspring annually.

Cats are highly efficient, instinctive predators; even well-fed, they continue to hunt and kill wildlife. Worldwide they are responsible for the extinction of numerous mammals, reptiles and at least 33 bird species.

A January 2013 study conducted for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that in the US each year outdoor cats kill 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Studies show that as cat abundance increases, native bird diversity plummets.


  1. Keep your cat indoors and encourage others to do the same.
  2. If you are unwilling to keep your cat indoors, do not attract birds.
  3. Do not rely on bells or declawing to prevent successful hunting; these measures are not effective.
  4. Spay or neuter your cat and don't feed other outdoor cats.
  5. Never abandon unwanted cats.
  6. Download Mount Diablo Audubon Society's conservation flyer and share it with your friends!

Burrowing Owls need YOUR help!

The habitat needs of the Western Burrowing Owl are unfortunately the same as those of sprawling shopping malls and housing tracts. The Owl's declining population has led to its status as a California Species of Special Concern.

Mount Diablo Audubon Society is proud to support the Urban Bird Foundation and its work to improve habitat for Burrowing Owls. We urge everyone to learn about this fine organization and to offer your support as well.

It's easy to do. Just click on this link:

Burrowing Owl

Breeding Kestrel Populations are Declining in North America


The American Kestrel is North America's smallest and most colorful falcon. Unfortunately, researchers believe the kestrel's population status is changing from "common" to "of concern". The Peregrine Fund's new American Kestrel Partnership is a research and conservation initiative supported by Audubon chapters, researchers, families, and anyone else interested in kestrels. Mount Diablo Audubon Society has supported the Kestrel Partnership by erecting and monitoring nestboxes. Learn how you can get involved at:

NEW! - Through Connecting People With Nature, MDAS sponsored an Eagle Scout project to install 2 Kestrel nest boxes to help recover Kestrel populations in Walnut Creek parks. The project was to be included in the nation-wide American Kestrel Recovery Program.

Unfortunately, this project could not be done as City of Walnut Creek refused to stop using rodent poison that was responsible for the demise of Kestrels in Parks and Open Space to begin with. American kestrels are very sensitive to the rodent poison Difacinone, found in gopher bait and ground squirrel bait used in Parks and Open space for rodent control.

The National Parks Service has provided an "infographic" (available here) explaining in easy-to-understand language and pictures just why this posion-predator relationship is so critical.

See our Rodenticide section on this page and check out Raptors Are The Solution for more details.

California Bluebird Recovery Program

Bluebird with Young

Bluebirds! They carry the blue of the sky on their backs but have lost much of their natural nesting habitat. The Bluebirds and many other cavity nesting birds need our help by restoring spaces for their nesting and conservation. With such a goal in mind, the California Bluebird Recovery Program (CBRP) has undertaken to increase the help being given to the cavity nesting birds. Since 1994, CBRP has placed and monitored hundreds of nestboxes with successful results. If you are interested in being a nestbox monitor, CBRP will provide you with;

  • Nestbox plans designed for several varieties of occupants
  • Suggestions for placement of boxes
  • Convenient forms for recording activity in each box
  • Assistance for monitors

To volunteer as a monitor and/or subscribe to the quarterly newsletter, Bluebirds Fly, send your name, address, phone number, and your $10 tax-deductible check payable to MDAS-Bluebirds to:

Young Bluebird


CBRP Program Director
Dick Blaine
22284 N De Anza Cir
Cupertino, CA

In return, you will receive the quarterly newsletter and a copy of Monitoring Your Bluebird Trail in California.

To learn more, email Dick Blaine, the program director, at

More information is available at the CBRP Website.

Wildlife Conservation Stamp Project Needs Your Support

Wildlife Conservation Stamp Wildlife Conservation Stamp

Mount Diablo Audubon Society is proud to endorse the Federal Wildlife Conservation Stamp project. This worthwhile project is a collaborative effort to promote a new wildlife stamp and funding stream for our National Wildlife Refuges. This effort is supported by birders, photographers, conservationists, wildlife rehabilitators, scientists, teachers and artists … joined by a common passion and concern for our nation's wildlife and wild habitats.

They propose the Wildlife Conservation Stamp to provide a consistent source of income for our Refuges, separate but parallel to the current Federal Duck Stamp program. The Wildlife Conservation Stamp would raise fees from the millions of non-consumptive users, wildlife viewers and conservationists — to help ensure a thriving future for our National Wildlife Refuge System and all of its inhabitants.

Learn more about this proposal at and how you can help at

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