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The Plight of Burrowing Owls at Shoreline Park
Burrowing Owl by Keith Wandry
In the past decade, Burrowing Owl populations in the South Bay plummeted. Despite efforts to reverse the trend, surveys show that fewer than 25 pairs still breed in Santa Clara County, and that number continues to fall. If immediate action is not taken, it is likely that these charismatic critters will be extirpated from our landscape. SCVAS is working diligently with biologists, Burrowing Owl experts, government agencies, and local jurisdictions to implement emergency actions to save our last Burrowing Owls.
Our environmental advocates met with the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Charlton Bonham, in May 2018, and presented him with survey results showing a rapid decline in Santa Clara County’s population of breeding Burrowing Owls. We requested CDFW’s help in facilitating emergency measures to save the owls. Mr. Bonham requested that the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency, local Burrowing Owl experts, and CDFW collaborate to identify the priority actions necessary to save the breeding population. Since then, we have been working with the Habitat Agency to help present their top priorities, including overwinter rearing, followed by the release of Burrowing Owls.
In late May, the New York Times released an article focused on the conflict between feral cats and Burrowing Owls at Shoreline Park. We are now advocating with Google to stop the cat-feeding program and to find a solution for the cats. At the same time, we are also advocating with the City of Mountain View to install cat-proof fencing to protect owls at Shoreline Park. The conversations we are engaged in are challenging, and finding short- and long-term solutions that are suitable for all stakeholders involved may take time. We appreciate all of your support and understanding.
Protecting the Ecosystems of Mountain View’s North Bayshore
The Egret Rookery in North Bayshore attracts hundreds of Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, and Black-crowned Night Herons each year during the breeding season. Photo by Mackenzie Mossing.
Stretching between the Bay and Highway 101, Mountain View’s North Bayshore is an area of significant ecological importance, and a focus of SCVAS’ advocacy for many years. The area is a birding hotspot, attracting migratory and resident birds seeking food and water in the Stevens Creek and Permanente Creek corridors, Charleston Road Marsh, and Shoreline Park. Hundreds of egrets congregate here each spring and summer to nest and raise their young along Shorebird Way. As Mountain View looks to transform the area with 9,000+ additional housing units, we engaged with our partners at the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter to advocate for the birds and wildlife that rely on the North Bayshore. Due to our efforts, the new North Bayshore Precise Plan mandates birdsafe design for all new construction, as well as setbacks from the retention basin and egret rookery. The new plan’s implementation document also includes district sustainability measures that aim to monitor biological indicators and sensitive habitats within the area.
LinkedIn Campus Will Be Bird Friendly
LinkedIn’s new redevelopment project (on Middlefield Road and Highway 237) would infill a sparse office campus with three additional six-story office buildings, two parking structures, and a four- to five-acre open area. Our concerns arose after reviewing architectural renderings that showed large walls of glass incorporated into the design. We asked the Mountain View City Council to require bird-safe design for the project and several Councilmembers expressed concern. LinkedIn representatives have since promised to incorporate bird-safe design in the new buildings. This campus will join North Bayshore campuses where Intuit, Google, and Microsoft are all building with birds in mind.