FRIDAY, AUGUST 1
Owls of the Redwood Forest
7:15 pm to 10 pm
Join Jan Hintermeister on a two-mile hike to learn about the rarely seen but sometimes heard owls at Big Basin. Experience the nocturnal world of owls while listening for our local species. Whooooo knows, maybe we'll get lucky and hear one! Be prepared to stand quietly and patiently in cold weather. Dress in layers of quiet clothing, wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring a flashlight and binoculars (if you have them). Meet at Park Headquarters.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 2
Birds of the Redwood Forest
9:30 am to 11 am
On this 1-1/2 mile walk you will learn about common birds of the redwood forest. Beginning birders welcome. Bring binoculars (if you have them). Meet at Park Headquarters.
Hermit Thrush Migration
12 pm to 1:15 pm
Learn how researcher Allison Nelson is using geolocator technology to discover the migratory patterns of the Hermit Thrush, a songbird that breeds in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Meet at Park HQ at noon; we’ll walk to nearby Old Lodge for the presentation.
Once Upon a Nest
2:30 pm to 4 pm
Listen to tales of the history and lore of the endangered Marbled Murrelet as you follow the path of its discovery right here in the center of Big Basin with special guests Steve and Stephanie Singer and docent Karen DeMello. You’ll also meet typical birds of the redwood forest along the way on this 1-1/2 mile walk. Meet at Park Headquarters. Binoculars recommended (not required).
Potluck Dinner for Birders and Butterfliers
5 pm to 6:15 pm
This food-fest is an eagerly awaited tradition! Bring a dish to share. Meet at the Old Lodge across from the parking lot from the store and museum.
Music and Marshmallows!
6:30 pm to 7 pm
Listen and sing-along with special musical guests “Mostly Mediocre Musical Monarch Mariposas” (a.k.a. the 5Ms) while roasting marshmallows before the campfire presentation. The 5Ms will also provide post-campfire presentation entertainment. Meet at the Campfire Center near Park Headquarters.
"A Tale of Two Birds: Jays and Murrelets" Campfire Program
7 pm to 8 pm
Why are there so many jays in California state parks? What do they eat and where do they go? Join scientist Elena West and her research team to learn about the results of her five year study on the behavior of Steller's Jays in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They will discuss the dynamic relationship between Steller's Jays and humans, and what this means for the conservation of Marbled Murrelets. Meet at the Campfire Center near Park Headquarters. Afterwards, enjoy music by the 5Ms!
SUNDAY, AUGUST 3
Dawn Marbled Murrelet Survey
5:15 am to 6:30 am
It’s a bit late in the season to hear and see Marbled Murrelets flying over, but docent Karen DeMello will be up just in case this remarkable bird happens to be circling over the old growth forest nesting area before heading out to sea. Feel free to bring a folding chair or blankets to be comfy. Meet at Park Headquarters at 5:15 am sharp.
Jays and Murrelets Walk
8:30 am to 9:30 am
Birds with bracelets? Come watch our Jay researchers as they set up their nets to study the Steller’s Jays. Meet at Park Headquarters.
Butterflies and Other Wings
10 am to 3 pm
National Park Service Biologist Paul Johnson returns to search for butterflies, beetles, dragonflies and other fascinating insects. We'll hike 1-1/2 miles to explore a sunnier section of Big Basin (4 miles total). Meet at Park Headquarters. Bring lunch/snacks, water and binoculars (if you have them).
Walk Leaders / Presenters
Jan Hintermeister has been an avid birder for over 20 years. He has banded hawks with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, has monitored Great Blue Heron colonies and served on the board of directors of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, and is currently a docent for Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District.
Allison Nelson is currently a graduate student at San Francisco State University. She has been a field biologist for organizations such as San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, Point Blue Conservation Science, and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
Steve Singer has been watching marbled murrelets at Big Basin since 1973 when he helped to identify an adult murrelet found on the ground by campers. He has been intrigued by this difficult-to-study bird ever since. In 1974, he helped document the discovery in Big Basin of the world's first murrelet tree nest. A tree trimmer found that nest accidentally. He and his wife Stephanie and their research group began a murrelet nest-finding effort, which resulted in several nest finds in the park. One of these nests allowed them to make the first observations of how a young bird fledges from the nest. Some of their early research efforts are mentioned in Maria Ruth's book, Rare Bird. In subsequent research he used modified marine radar to track inland movements of the birds and to identify flyways that the birds use from the ocean to their breeding areas. He continues to monitor murrelets through dawn surveys at forest breeding locations.
Elena West has been studying the ecology of Steller’s Jay in central California for her PhD dissertation research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2010. As part of this research she is studying how human food subsidies impact the habitat use, foraging ecology, and population ecology of Steller’s jays. Ms. West has captured and banded hundreds of Steller’s Jays over the last four years to assess breeding and non-breeding season habitat use, characterize juvenile dispersal, and study the demography of this species.
5M’s Band The Mostly Mediocre Music Monarch Mariposas took flight at Natural Bridges State Park, providing fun nature-themed music in the Santa Cruz area.
Paul Johnson has been interested in butterflies since birth, and is an avid butterflier and insect watcher. He is a Wildlife Biologist at Pinnacles National Park. In 1999-2003 he conducted a butterfly and moth inventory of Pinnacles and subsequently published a butterfly checklist for the Monument. He runs the annual Pinnacles Butterfly Count, and participates in about a dozen butterfly counts in California.
Karen DeMello is the docent at Big Basin Redwoods State Park who suggested having a bird weekend in 2002 as part of Big Basin's Centennial Celebration. Never did she imagine this bird weekend would become such an eagerly awaited periodic event! She thanks the hardworking organizers, presenters, participants and state parks (especially Susan Blake at Big Basin Redwoods SP) for making this weekend happen.