Table of Contents
by Barbara Banthien
Dining for Wildlife
Dine Out, Do Good!
WildCare’s 23rd Annual Dining for Wildlife will take place Tuesday May 20 and Wednesday May 21, 2008, and you are invited!
Reservations open Monday April 14, and run through Wednesday May 14. Starting then, we will be taking reservations for dinner at one of 29 fabulous Bay Area restaurants.
How it works:
Choose one of the restaurants below, get out your credit or debit
card and call WildCare at 415-453-1000 x11 to make pre-paid reservations at the restaurant you choose. We’ll do the rest, and you just show up. A portion of every meal is tax deductible because the restaurants have generously agreed to donate everything but the cost of the food back to WildCare!
Hooded Warbler by Barbara Banthien
Prices include a three-course meal, a glass of wine or beer, and coffee or tea. Prices (listed after each restaurant) vary and do not include a gratuity.
San Francisco Restaurants:
California Culinary Academy -- Careme Room $55
Southern Marin Restaurants:
The Caprice $85
FISH Restaurant, Sausalito (Tues. only) $55
Frantoio Ristorante, Mill Valley $75
Ora, Mill Valley $75
Paradise Bay Restaurant & Bar $75
Piazza D’Angelo Ristorante, Mill Valley $55
Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar, Sausalito $45
Toast, Mill Valley $55
West Marin Restaurants:
Station House Café. Pt. Reyes Station (Tues. only) $45
Olema Inn & Restaurant, Olema (Wed. only) $75
North Central Marin:
AVA, San Anselmo $75
Cafe Arrivederci, San Rafael $55
Il Davide, San Rafael $55
Insalata’s Restaurant, San Anselmo $75
Jason’s Restaurant, San Rafael (Wed. only) $75
Las Camelias Mexican Restaurant, San Rafael $45
Marche aux Fleurs, Ross (Tues. only) $75
Maria Manso’s World Cuisine, San Rafael $55
The Melting Pot, Larkspur (Tues. only) $55
Pacific Cafe, Kentfield $55
Panama Hotel & Restaurant, San Rafael (Wed. only) $75
Rickey’s Restaurant and Bar, Novato $55
Ristorante Mezzo Mezzo, San Rafael $55
Sabor of Spain, San Rafael $55
Wild Fox, Novato $55
East Bay Restaurants:
la rose bistro, Berkeley $75
Mezze Restaurant & Bar, Oakland (Tues. only) $75
WildCare gratefully acknowledges the sponsors who help make this event a success -- thank you!
|Marin Independent Journal
La Dolce V Fine Chocolates, Sebastopol
Farallone Pacific Insurance Services
Woodworking West, Inc.
Zenith Instant Printing
"Bee on a Mission" by Christine Hansen
A domestic (introduced) European Honeybee
Native Bees Can Save the Day
by Lucy Burlingham
No, WildCare is not rehabilitating insects, although people who want help have brought us everything from sphinx moths to potato bugs. But WildCare does advocate for all kinds of wildlife including native bees. While apiarists are fighting colony collapse disorder in domestic honeybees, more than 1,500 different species (just in California!) of native bees are busily doing their jobs. If we can just keep our pesticides out of the food chain…
As if we don’t have enough to worry about, evidence suggests that pollinating insects -- including our star pollinators, bees -- are declining in numbers on a global scale. The primary cause of this decline is that, like many other creatures in the natural world, bees are being pushed out of their natural habitat by human development.
When most people think of bees, the first bee that comes to mind is the European honey bee. But this bee is only one of about 25,000 species known worldwide.
Native bees were here pollinating our continent long before the European colonists brought their domestic honey bees. Most people are somewhat familiar with the social lifestyle of honeybees and bumblebees, which includes a caste system of an egg-laying queen, male drone bees, and female worker bees (the ones we mostly see at flowers). With the exception of bumblebees, native wild bees lack this caste system and are largely solitary in their lifestyle. They do not live in hives and do not produce honey, but they have equally important roles in gardens and natural ecosystems.
Create a Welcome for Baby Bees
A European Honeybee and a native Bumblebee
pollinating a sunflower.
Native bees build two main types of nests: ground nests and cavity nests. The most common is the ground nest, used by about 85% of the bee species. Ground-nesting bees dig out a subterranean nest in loose, sandy substrate. In most species there is only a single generation. Spring bees, for example, make their nests in March or April; their offspring will develop slowly over the next 12 months and emerge a year later in March or April. Mulching, that highly-promoted “eco-friendly” method for suppressing weeds and conserving water, actually discourages ground-nesting bees. Equally bad for ground nesters is our habit of laying down plastic over bare soil. If a nest-searching female encounters 1-2 inches of mulch or plastic where there should be bare dirt, she can’t excavate, and will leave in search of an accessible area. When a high number of gardeners in an area mulch or "plasticate" their soil, it can have a detrimental impact on bee populations. If you do use mulch and plastic, leave about half of your garden in bare dirt.
Do-it-yourself bee houses (directions below)
Cavity-nesting bee species -- such as leaf-cutter bees and orchard bees -- search for suitable preexisting cavities in old trees or in human structures of wood, metal or even mason blocks for making nest cells. Carpenter bees chew holes into wood in order to build their nests. Sometimes they use door and window frames. Understandably, humans regard this habit as undesirable, but it mimics a pattern in nature where these bees would normally be nesting in dead tree branches. Dead trees (known as snags) are some of the most valuable real estate available for many species of wildlife. When we remove them, we leave wildlife no options but to use our structures as substitutes. Some people employ bee-boxes to invite these species to chew on something more appropriate.
Buy or Build a Bee Box
It is a great idea to have bee boxes in our gardens because solitary bees, such as mason bees, will lay eggs in preexisting holes. Some solitary bees are not capable of making nesting holes, and will potentially lay fewer eggs if they can’t find adequate housing. Bee boxes are easy to make, and having solitary bees around will help your garden grow. To make your own bee box, follow these simple steps:
- Find an old or new 4"x4" block of wood that has not been treated with chemicals.
- Cut the top to form a slope, angle it so the lower end is at the front.
- Using a 5/16" (6mm) drill bit, drill deep holes into the wood, being careful not to drill through the end.
- Ensure that the holes are clean, as these critters tend to be very finicky about their nesting areas.
So what can we do to encourage native bees? First of all, throw out your pesticides and synthetic chemicals. They are part of the problem. Avoid the use of mulch or plastic. Plant lots of attractive native plants, and do your weeding and watering by hand. There are several great resources available to help you choose the best plants for your garden, including a free tour of native plant gardens in the East Bay given on May 4, 2008 by Bringing Back the Natives. http://www.bringingbackthenatives.net/.
Native Bee Resources
San Francisco State biology Associate Professor Gretchen LeBuhn is undertaking a national survey on bee pollination, and is offering seeds and information to people willing to help with her survey. She is looking for people to plant sunflowers and record the numbers of bees in time for National Pollinators Week, June 23-28. Find out more at http://www.greatsunflower.org/.
Note from an eNewsletter reader:
"I just purchased my first bees! Orchard Mason Bees. They are the great pollinator. Tend to travel to more plants and flowers unlike honey bees which find one tree they like and stay there. They are early pollinators, so they tend to be very good for fruit trees; are very docile; males do not even have a stinger, and by June had laid all their eggs and have passed on. Then you keep them in the refrigerator to hibernate until next Feb-Mar, when the weather warms to 55 degrees during the day. Cool, huh?
I bought a book on the bees and Knox Cellars has a good website for purchasing kits for the beginners.
Visit Knox Cellars online at http://www.knoxcellars.com/index.html"
Black Phoebe eating an insect
Songbird Bio: Black Phoebe
By Veronica Bowers
The Black Phoebe who lives at our house is queen of her domain. She rules a large pond in an open field, and has a variety of favorite perches. I can count on seeing her at one of the selected locations at any given time of the day. Sitting alert and patiently, flipping her long black tail, she quickly swoops out to snap up a meal with her wide flat bill. During the summer, a thin willow branch in the middle of the pond is her favorite spot for hunting dragon flies. She always looks a little surprised at first as she sits contemplating what to do with this very large insect. She then begins to beat her prey on a rock or branch until the wings falls off ,and the body is sufficiently tenderized. I have seen her hold the body down with a foot and pull the hapless insect apart into more manageable pieces.
The Black Phoebe is a solitary bird. The swallow nest box in the middle of the field and the top of the barn next door is where our little queen surveys her land and watches for interlopers and predators. Not very often are two phoebes seen in close proximity to each other except during the breeding season, when they take a mate and select a nesting site. The mated pair will typically have two broods of three to four young each during a season. After the last brood of youngsters has fledged the nest and are self-sufficient, the adult birds will retreat to their original territories for the winter.
Black Phoebe puffed up photo by
Mud Nests Don’t Have to Make a Mess
Phoebes commonly construct a half-cup shaped nest using mud pellets, plant fibers and animal hair. The mud adheres the nest to a vertical surface, often under the eves of buildings, bridges, cliffs and culverts. Phoebes, like Barn Swallows, have a tendency to nest over doorways. If you are fortunate enough to have a phoebe nest, but find the droppings a nuisance, you can attach a small shelf a few feet below the nest to catch the droppings so that they don’t make a mess on the ground. The shelf can easily be removed at the end of the breeding season.
Black Phoebe looking right at you
Our resident Phoebe spends most of her day between our field and the neighbors’. If she’s alarmed or agitated, she calls out “fee BEE! fee BLEE!”. I’m not sure what the typical territory size of the Black Phoebe is, but I estimate that between our field and the neighbors our Black Phoebe defends and maintains about 8 acres of territory. At night, she roosts under the eve of our house above the bedroom window. Just before she is ready to settle in for the night and in the morning as the sun begins to rise, she exclaims “fee bee! fee beer!”
Veronica Bowers specializes in rehabilitating insectivorous songbirds when she is not making specialty chocolates for La Dolce V, her shop in Sebastopol.
Wildlife Classes at WildCare
Want to know more about Black Phoebes and other songbirds? Take Veronica's amazing class "Birds of a Feather" at WildCare on April 16, 2008. This is one of a series of classes held at WildCare through the Tamalpais Adult and Community Education program.
Click here to view the whole series and sign up!
Elizabeth Terwilliger in action
The Annual Mrs.T Mill Valley
You are invited to participate in the The Annual Mrs.T Mill Valley Beautification Day on Saturday, April 19th, 2008, from 9am to noon. Everyone is welcome to join us at the Terwilliger Marsh in Mill Valley (Camino Alto entrance in front of the Mill Valley Community Center). We will do some clean up, weeding, pruning and planting. At 9:00 am Dede Sabbag will speak briefly about the restoration project, point out the native plants, and discuss their wildlife habitat value. Tools and garbage bags will be provided, but you should bring your own gloves.
Then at 12:00 we will meet at the Mill Valley Plaza for a "Beautification Celebration". Bring a Waste-Free Lunch. Prizes will be given for the best waste-free lunch, and the most intriguing sculpture in the found-object art contest.
RSVP to Carrie Sherriff at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you may also just show up.
Love your trees?
Great Horned Owl babies Photo by Alex Godbe
So do the birds and the bees!
WildCare's Hungry Owl Project has developed a new program to educate arborists and other people who need to know when and how to safely trim trees and shrubs without causing harm to wildlife.
The first Tree Life Project presentation will be given on Thursday, April 24 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Marin Art and Garden Center.
Speakers will include the Small World Tree Company, naturalists, visits from live animals, and refreshments of wine and cheese.
This seminar is free to arborists, and offers certification to arborists who have taken the training. Members of the general public are welcome, and encouraged to attend with a suggested donation of $15. Please reserve in advance, as space is limited, by calling 415-454-4587 during business hours, or send email to email@example.com.
Learn more about the Tree Life Project at http://www.hungryowl.org/.
Nominations Still Open!
The 2008 Terwilliger Environmental Award
WildCare is now accepting nominations for the 2008 Terwilliger Environmental Award to recognize environmental educators who, like nationally renowned Elizabeth Terwilliger, are committed to conservation and sustainability, and who share their remarkable love for the natural world. More information and a nomination form is on our web page at www.wildcarebayarea.org/TEA
Department of Fish and Game Warns: Leave Wild Animals Alone
A coyote at the Marin Headlands shows its lack of fear of humans. This is a very bad situation for a coyote. Photo by Trish Carney
by Eric Loft, Chief, DFG Wildlife Branch and Terry Palmisano, DFG Senior Wildlife Biologist,
The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds everyone that feeding wildlife, whether directly or indirectly, is never a good idea. Wildlife encounters often increase with the availability of food, and feeding can result in an attack, injury, damaged property and often the death of the animal.
"When there are conflicts between humans and wild animals, the animals lose," said Eric Loft, Chief, DFG Wildlife Branch. "Don't feed wild animals. They don't need our handouts, they need our respect. We should all take responsibility for the wild animals whose habitat we share. When humans are careless, wild animals usually pay the price."
Wild animals have natural instincts about what, when and where they should eat. Those that become accustomed to being fed may become dependent on human generosity and expand their activities to get more food from people. These animals can damage fences and structures, become pests and threaten human safety in the process. People who feed wildlife mean well, but doing so upsets an animal's natural diet, puts the animal at unnecessary risk and often disrupts the natural survival instincts of the animal.
Signs in the Marin Headlands asking people to not
feed coyotes. Photo by Trish Carney
"It's never a good idea to feed wildlife; it's as simple as that," said DFG Senior Biologist Terry Palmisano. "When people feed wildlife, animals become habituated to that source of food, which can lead to unnaturally bold or aggressive behavior. That type of behavior results in conflicts between wildlife and humans and most often leads to the death of the animal."
Preventing human and wildlife conflicts is the goal of DFG's "Keep Me Wild" campaign, which encourages people to respect all wildlife by leaving them alone and allowing them to live as wild animals.
The most common problems begin with people who leave pet food outside at night, intentionally put food out for wildlife or allow animals access to crops.
On the road to nowhere... a coyote in commute.
Photo by Trish Carney
DFG urges pet owners to feed pets early in the day and to retrieve dishes at night, or feed pets indoors. If a pet door is used, owners should be aware that some animals - particularly raccoons and skunks - may use that door to enter the house in search of an easy meal. Lockable pet doors with manual locks are available as are doors that will open only when pets wearing magnetic collars attempt to enter.
Palmisano also warns that people who feed wildlife are at greater risk of being attacked when animals grow accustomed to being fed and then have that feeding disturbed in some way. People who feed animals are also at a greater risk from the spread of disease and parasites. Urban areas often have an array of turkeys, skunks, opossums and raccoons looking for food, with predators such as coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions following that prey down into residential neighborhoods. These animals can cause problems for pets and unsuspecting neighbors who may not want the visitors in their yards. For these reasons, it is illegal to feed big game, such as deer and bears.
Appropriate, strong fencing is the best way to protect both your property, wildlife and public resources. While DFG can issue depredation permits to remove certain animals that have already caused damage, wildlife biologists always recommend taking measures to prevent problems before they start. To learn more about the "Keep Me Wild" campaign visit www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild.
Adopt a Coyote
April is Coyote month at WildCare! Wild animal adoptions make great gifts. Those gifts spread the word that sharing the environment with our wild neighbors is the right thing to do. At the same time, your adoption donation will support all the wild animals that come to WildCare this year.
Click to adopt a coyote for yourself or someone special today!