Friday, October 5, 2007

Restoration monitoring preview

One of the goals of all the scrub, woodland and grassland restoration in the Puente Hills is to provide habitat for declining wildlife species. Yesterday, I stopped briefly at the Harbor Blvd. undercrossing to look for scarce lizards in the afternoon heat. While I didn't find these, I did flush a Rufous-crowned Sparrow (pictured) foraging in the native bunchgrasses that were planted as landscaping around the undercrossing (west side of Harbor Blvd.). A large population of this sparrow is found in the scrubby grassland just east of Harbor Blvd. on the Aera property and adjacent to the Shea Homes development.

This is an inconspicuous species typically detected by voice, and is told from other local sparrows (incl. imm. White-crowned and adult Chipping) by its unmarked wings (i.e., no white wingbars), black "mustache" stripe and white eyering. It has two calls, one a high thin "sseeet", and the other a rough "deer-deer-deer", in addition to its song which resembles a weak House Wren.

In the next year, we hope to initiate biomonitoring all the restoration areas in the hills (there are over a dozen) and find other sensitive species like this sparrow using them.

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