San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[San Diego County Bird Atlas Project]
Birds & Mammals

Bird Atlas Introduction
Project Overview
Volunteer Work
Handbook Contents
Breeding Bird Species Accounts
Grid System
Who's Who?
Atlas Support

Focus On...
Wrenderings Archives
Birds of San Diego County Checklist

Model Species Account

Reporting Forms
Incidental (Breeding Season)
Incidental (Winter)
Daily (Breeding Season)
Daily (Winter)
Atlas Support

Partnership and Grant News

Hutton's Vireo, painted by Allan Brooks, from The Birds of San Diego County

A project as ambitious as the San Diego County Bird Atlas is not inexpensive. Costs include salaries for the project manager and administrative assistant, forms, maps, and instruction handbooks for the field observers, recognition of the efforts of the volunteers, printing and mailing of the newsletter to keep participants informed, keeping up with information technology, office needs, museum costs, and publication expenses for the atlas itself. These costs total more than $500,000 over six years. Grant proposals to a number of foundations and agencies have yielded generous support for the first four years of the project. Financial support is now being sought to fund the final year of field research, as well as publication of the atlas.

We gratefully acknowledge the enormous support of Cleveland National Forest, through its Partners in Flight program, facilitated by forest biologist Kirsten Winter. This challenge-cost share agreement contributes to the operation of the project through September 2002 and ensures that our coverage extends to some of the most remote and difficult areas of the county. The atlas data will help the national forest in its management by identifying areas of high diversity, species of conservation concern and their locations, and increase its knowledge of its resources immensely. The growth of this partnership between the Forest Service and our many volunteers has been one of the great by-products of our atlas effort. Furthermore, Cleveland National Forest has lent the expertise of computer-mapping expert Corey Ferguson to the bird atlas.

Likewise, the support of California State Parks through resource ecologist Paul Jorgensen has been crucial in ensuring that the project's coverage extends through even the most remote wildernesses of the Anza-Borrego Desert. The time in the field that state park personnel spend on the project is a major in-kind contribution as well. The bird atlas data are being integrated into the state parks' massive database on the parks' biological resources.

We are delighted that a grant to support the San Diego County Bird Atlas from the California Department of Transportation (fondly known as CalTrans) through San Diego State University Foundation has been renewed for a fourth year. This significant support (now over $55,000 for the coming year) provides salary for Ann Klovstad to serve as our full-time administrative assistant. Ann has become indispensable for a wide variety of tasks, including data entry and management, budget management, and managing volunteer-recognition events. Funds also enable us to engage field assistants to cover squares that haven't attracted volunteers and to target some problematic species. We are enormously grateful to Pam Beare of CalTrans and Dr. Barbara Kus of the US Geological Survey's Biological Resources Division for facilitating this grant.

Another important source of financial participation has been the Zoological Society of San Diego. Their two-year award of $33,500 from the Conservation and Research fund has enabled us to purchase computer equipment, sponsor recognition events and gifts for our volunteers, and support staff salaries. Many thanks to Bill Toone of the Zoological Society for his leadership in this award.

Similarly, a two-year award of $40,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which we had to match 2 to 1, has supported salaries, volunteer support, mailing costs, and office supplies.

A partnership with the U.S. Navy over five years involves our providing data to the Navy in exchange for their facilitating access to Navy property and to their data and annual contract support. Thanks to Tim Burr for his part in facilitating this agreement, and to Navy biologists John Lovio and Tammy Conkle for their ongoing efforts. Thanks to Slader Buck, Deborah Bieber, and Barbara Bell for facilitating our observers' access to Camp Pendleton.

In-kind gifts are extremely important to this project. We would be remiss if we didn't thank Pat Atchison and AMEC Earth and Environmental Services (formerly Ogden Environmental and Energy Services) for their continued support in generating the color habitat maps--and now orthophotos on the same scale--for use by atlas participants. These tools help immeasurably in focusing our effort on the full diversity of habitats in each square, and we much appreciate the willingness of Pat and his staff to produce them for us.

We gratefully acknowledge the advice and expertise of Michael R. Smith of St. George Consulting (formerly of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad) and Richard Wright of San Diego State University, and training by John Kaiser of SDSU, in enabling the project to take full advantage of the latest developments in geographic-information systems and computer-mapping technology.

We thank the San Diego County of Planning and Land Use, through Robert Asher, Thomas A. Oberbauer, Dan Henderson, and Melanie Casey, for its cooperation in digitizing the point locations for rare and sensitive species.

We thank the city of San Diego Water Utilities Department, through Jim Brown and Joe Weber, for access to the city's several reservoirs. We thank the Vista Irrigation District, through Paul Dorey, for access to this agency's unique habitat around Lake Henshaw and in Warner Valley during our "blockbuster weekend" field trips. We thank the California Department of Fish and Game, through Dave Lawhead and Terry Stewart, for similar access to the department's land in Rancho Jamul. And we thank the dozens of private landowners who kindly granted access to our observers on an individual basis.

The contributions of time in the field from our over 300 volunteers could be estimated to be worth over $700,000. The San Diego, Buena Vista, and Palomar Audubon Societies and the San Diego Field Ornithologists have been most helpful in providing volunteers and publicizing our efforts.

Individual donations have come from a host of friends, and we would like to acknowledge and thank Susan and Richard Breisch, James Coatsworth, Anne Ewing, Michael G. Mathos, Jane McNeil, Joanne Moore, Mary Mosher, Christine Nyhan, Jim and Barbara Peugh, Ruth Stalnaker, Norma Sullivan, Carol Winter, Joseph Worley, and Herb Young for their generous gifts.

We are most grateful for the leadership and expertise provided by our advisory committee, which meets several times a year. Our committee includes Kirsten Winter, Ken Weaver, Mike Evans, Paul Jorgensen, Karen Messer, Conrad Sankpill, and Bill Toone.

Fundraising for this project is an ongoing enterprise. If you have suggestions for funding possibilities, please contact Philip Unitt at 232-3821 ext. 235 or


Thanks to Our Supporters: Winter 2000

Once again we are delighted to acknowledge the continuing support of the agencies whose funding makes operation of the San Diego County Bird Atlas possible. Our grant from the California Department of Transportation, through San Diego State University Foundation, was renewed, thanks to the support of Pam Beare, CalTrans biologist, and Barbara Kus, head of the San Diego office of the USGS Biological Resources Division. Our funding through the U.S. Forest Service's Partners in Flight program was also renewed, thanks to the support of Partners in Flight steering committee and forest biologist Kirsten Winter. And despite the parks' receiving less money than hoped for in this year's budget, California State Parks' resource ecologist Paul Jorgensen was able to find funds enabling us to continue to deploy field assistants to the remote and difficult parts of the Anza-Borrego Desert uncovered by our volunteers.

Renewal of support from these agencies is far from automatic. Rather, each year we must compete with other meritorious proposals. Each year we must demonstrate that we are making the best use possible of the funds and demonstrate that we are making progress toward worthwhile goals. Demonstrating partnerships with other agencies and the support of the community--our volunteers--is crucial. So our thanks to our financial supporters must extend as thanks to all our participants. -- from Winter 2000 Wrenderings

Partners in Flight: Cleveland National Forest and San Diego Natural History Museum

The Cleveland National Forest and the San Diego Natural History Museum are pleased to announce the formation of a new partnership. Through the Forest Service's Partners in Flight program, the Museum and Forest prepared a joint proposal that was awarded $20,500 for Bird Atlas support in 1999. Partners in Flight is a national coalition of federal and state agencies and private entities that focuses on the conservation and management of neotropical migratory birds. This funding is being provided as part of a challenge cost-share agreement. The Museum provides a "match" in the form of professional oversight, atlas administration, and volunteer support, while the Forest provides financial support and has committed to the completion of three atlas squares on Forest lands. The application process for this funding followed a long and complex path. In 1998 our proposal was not selected by the Forest Service Partners in Flight Committee. But this year, with additional campaigning by the Cleveland National Forest, the committee ended up with a tie vote on funding either the atlas or a bird-monitoring project in the Sierra Nevada. After two weeks of suspense, the tie-breaking decision was made by Regional Office staff in favor of the Bird Atlas. This is a good omen for future Partners in Flight support of the Atlas. Thanks to Phil Unitt and Kirsten Winter for developing and promoting this partnership. -- from Spring 1999 Wrenderings

Thanks Again to Caltrans

Once again we owe a huge debt of thanks to the California Department of Transportation, Pam Beare, and Barbara Kus for extending Caltrans' grant toward the San Diego County Bird Atlas for a third year. This support provides for the publication and mailing of Wrenderings, for the reproduction of forms and maps, and for the assistance of Ann Klovstad, without which running the project efficiently would be impossible. Caltrans' support has been one of the cornerstones turning the dream of the atlas into reality. -- from Fall 1999 Wrenderings

New Partnership: The U.S. Navy and the San Diego Bird Atlas

The San Diego Bird Atlas has another important new partner in the U. S. Navy, thanks to the cooperation of Navy biologist Tim Burr. This agreement takes the form of a contract between the Museum and the Navy. The Museum agrees to furnish the Navy with electronic copies of subsets of the data for areas of interest to it, as needed, as well as electronic copies of the entire final database and printed copies of the atlas itself when completed. In return, the Navy agrees to facilitate our access to Navy property and data on birds, and to help fund the project over its remaining life. Again, thanks very much to Tim for making this agreement possible and to him and Navy biologists John Lovio and Tammy Conkle for their ongoing support of our effort. -- from Winter 1998 Wrenderings

New Partnership with Zoological Society

A major strength of our Bird Atlas project is its collaborative nature. Partnerships with agencies, organizations, and individuals are critical to our success. We are thrilled to announce that a new organization has joined us, and brings with it a financial commitment as well! The Zoological Society of San Diego (ZSSD), through its Conservation and Research Fund, has awarded the Bird Atlas Project $33,500 over the next two years to support staff salaries, recognition events and gifts for volunteers, and computer equipment. This year the Zoo funded only eight projects, with the Bird Atlas project receiving the highest award.

Having the Zoo as a major participant in the project is beneficial to all of us. It enhances the ZSSD as a supporter of local research and conservation efforts, as well as connecting it with a collaborative scientific research project. And we gain by having the credibility and stature of the ZSSD, and the knowledge and expertise of Bill Toone, Director of Conservation Programs, who now joins the atlas' advisory committee. Many thanks to Bill and Jeff Opdyck for shepherding the lengthy and complicated application process. We have already purchased a greatly needed new computer system, with GIS capabilities, for Phil and Ann to enter and manipulate data. And we are able to underwrite the costs of our participants' event and recognition gifts.-- from Spring 1998 Wrenderings


Feathering our Nest Egg

We are proud to report that the San Diego County Bird Atlas has been approved for a grant of $40,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The grant requires a two-to-one match, which we met with the CalTrans contribution, Ogden Environmental's donation of map production, California State Parks' contributed services of Paul and Mark Jorgensen's time, and individual donations.

The successful but lengthy process of application involved a preproposal, invitation to submit a full proposal, recruitment of five reviewers from specific arenas, resubmission of budget requests, and many telephone calls and faxes to Washington and San Francisco. We greatly appreciate the reviewers, whose comments demonstrate the widespread support among the community for this project. Thanks to Barbara Kus, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, SDSU; Jim Sulentich, NCCP Field Representative, The Nature Conservancy; Liam Davis, Associate Wildlife Biologist, California Department of Fish and Game; John Lovio, Natural Resources Specialist, Southwest Division, Naval Facilities Engineering Command; and Mike Smith, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The funds will help support our professional staff and volunteers in their efforts during the second and third years of this ambitious and timely project. -- from Winter 1997 Wrenderings


Thanks to Ogden Environmental and Energy Services
for the Color Habitat Maps

All participants in the San Diego Bird Atlas taking responsibility for coverage of one or more full squares have received a color habitat map on the same scale as a USGS 7.5-minute topo map, thanks to the cooperation of Ogden Environmental and Energy Services. The great majority of the county, excluding mainly parts of the Anza-Borrego Desert, is covered. Deep appreciation goes to Pat Atchison, Pat Mock, Bob Blackwelder, and Ogden's Geographic Information Systems team for making these useful and beautiful maps available to us. -- Fall 1997 Wrenderings


Hutton's Vireo (Vireo huttoni), watercolor by Allan Brooks, painted in the early part of the 20th century.
The original is from the Ellen Browning Scripps collection now in the San Diego Natural History Museum.