Page updated: November 11, 2014



A California Chapter of the National Audubon Society Serving the communities of Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Manteca, Escalon, Ripon, and Lathrop--All of San Joaquin County.



Places to Visit on our Website

Chapter Officers & Board Members 

Program and Field Trip Information 

Field Checklist of the Birds of San Joaquin County

Bird Sightings in San Joaquin County

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Other Web Pages to Visit


All About Birds-Cornell Online Guide to Identifying Birds

· Help with Identifying Birds

What to do with an injured or orphaned bird

Wildlife Rehab Information

Central Valley Birds Listserve

San Joaquin Birds Listserve

National Audubon Society 

Central Valley Bird Club 

California County Geographic Birding Guide 

Kern River Preserve

Artist Keith Hansen

Artist Rene C. Reyes

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Steve Stocking passed away on Sunday, November 9, 2014.

Steve at Kings Canyon

Steve Stocking teaching a wildflower class at King's Canyon

Steve planting Oaks

Steve Stocking planting oak seedlings at Oak Grove Park

Steve was the Hoot Owl Newsletter Editor, past President, Board member and Education Chair of the San Joaquin Audubon Society.  Steve was also the compiler of the Wallace-Bellota Christmas Bird Count data for the past 7 years. Additionally, he was a Board member and Conservation Chair for many years of the local Sierra Club Chapter, Delta-Sierra Group.

Steve was an environmentalist and conservationist who worked tirelessly with Waldo Holt on the Habitat Conservation Plan used in Stockton and San Joaquin County which provides for the future protection of threatened and endangered plants, fish, and other wildlife. 

Steve taught Biology, Botany, and Microbiology at San Joaquin Delta College for many years, led hundreds of field trips and hikes to many places in the Sierra and locally and also taught summer classes at Kings Canyon National Park.  He published two books for the Sequoia Natural History Association, "The Giant Sequoia of Sequoia and Kings Canyon" and "Wildflowers of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks" which was recently updated and in its fourth edition.  Steve worked at Sequoia and Kings Canyon as a Park Ranger in his early years.  Steve's contributions to the environment and as a friend can not be overstated.

Kasey Foley, San Joaquin Audubon Society


borrowed from Audubon At Home

Plants for Birds and Wildlife

Planting for birds
Spicebush, photo courtesy USDA-NRCS Plants Database

Birds and wildlife have adapted to utilize native plants that provide food, cover, nesting sites or a combination of resources. Native plants provide food at different times of the year to birds in the form of seeds, fruit or as invertebrate host sites. The growth habits of native plants present recognizable, safe nesting sites and cover that protect birds from inclement weather and predation. The importance of these plants to birds, insects and other wildlife cannot be overstated.

Using native plants in your backyard landscape will offer the most resources to birds and wildlife and serve as rewarding attractants. On these pages you will find some examples of plants that are particularly valuable to specific birds and other beneficial organisms. A more comprehensive database with regional references is in the works at Audubon At Home and will be available online in the near future.

Plantings for birds in our area:

Nuttall's Woodpecker, Oak Titmouse, Yellow-rumped Warbler- California Live Oak

Wrentit, California Towhee, Spotted Towhee - California Wax Myrle

For more information about native plants please visit:

California Native Plant Society

Master Gardener's Program in San Joaquin County

Plants for Beneficial Insects

Predators. Parasitoids. Pollinators.

Welcome them into your Healthy Yard.

These are the insects, bugs and other organisms on the front line of pest control in your yard, guarding against destructive bugs and helping plants reproduce. Nature supplies these beneficial bugs of course, but you can encourage them to remain in your yard by providing them with some essential elements.

Nearly every plant in a natural environment will sustain at least some damage by pests…it is part of the natural balance. But pests don’t overpopulate a natural ecosystem due to the presence of natural enemies. In a healthy yard with its native plants and pesticide-free environment, pests will appear—and so will natural enemies.

THE INSECTS – Wild Friends, Natural Enemies

lady bug
Ladybug feeding on cottonwood leaf beetle eggs, photo by James Solomon, USDA Forest Service

Move Over, Lady - It has long been known that ladybugs (or lady beetles), especially in their larval stage, are "good bugs" with voracious appetites for aphids. Without dismissing the value of ladybugs as garden friends, there are other natural pest enemies that are much less conspicuous but even more valuable. The lowly "gnat" that flies by your ear may in fact be the tiny eulophid wasp – a full-grown one is just one-eighth inch – on her way to lay up to one hundred eggs in the pupae of tree-destroying beetles.

Predatory and parasitoid flies and wasps are key players in the biological control of insect pests. Many, in fact, are reared in laboratories and dispersed into crops, forests and neighborhoods to control exotic insect pests (i.e. elm leaf beetle). Click on the link below to learn more about the tiny denizens of your yard and other beneficial organisms.

THE PLANTS – Nectar for Natural Pest Enemies

hover fly
Syrphid (hover) Fly, photo by Carl Dennis, Auburn University

Nectar is an important dietary supplement for beneficial wasps and flies. Asters and their cousins (such as daisies and goldenrod) offer excellent resources and there are native varieties in every part of the country. Flowers that are composites - where many small symmetrical flowers occur in a central disk - are perfect for small wasps and flies such as the common predaceous hover fly (pictured left). Many of the beneficial insects are small and require a short flower structure in order to access the nectar.

These same flowering plants will attract a wide range of important pollinators such as native bees, butterflies and honeybees. When they produce seed, these plants will provide a valuable food source for birds and other wildlife in the fall and winter.

Plant a variety of plant types such as groundcover, trees, and shrubs, mimicking natural growth patterns to form complex habitat that will be home to a greater variety of beneficial insects.

THE INSECTS – Information and pictures of the lesser-known but effective natural enemies that occupy your backyard.

PLANTS TO ATTRACT BENEFICIAL INSECTS – Your guide to some stellar examples of the useful plants that will attract a variety of beneficial insects. Look for examples of similar native flowers occurring in your region.






Joe-pye Weed


For more information about beneficial insects please visit:

Xerxes Society

Beneficial Insects in Your Garden


     The National Audubon Society has released an extensive new study on the potential impact of global warming on North American birds.  After a nearly eight year study Audubon scientists have concluded that climate change is the No. 1 threat to North American birds!  Audubon’s science models predict that 314 species of birds in the U.S. are under direct threat of extinction by 2050 if we don’t take action to prevent their decline by protecting strongholds, passing stronger climate policy, and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
      The September-October issue of Audubon magazine has extensive coverage on this issue and gives suggestions on what individuals and groups can do to help reduce the negative impacts on birds in their local area.  (Refer to for more information).

Dave Wagner, Conservation

18TH Annual Central Valley Birding Symposium

The Central Valley Bird Club will be hosting the 18th Annual Central Valley Birding Symposium Nov. 20-23, 2014 at the Stockton Hilton Hotel in Stockton, CA.  Please come and help us kick off this year’s CVBS!  Come meet the CVBS board & staff members! Reconnect with old friends!  Meet new ones!  Take advantage of the scrumptious Hors D’oeuvres buffet & No Host Bar on Thursday night.
     Thursday Night's Keynote speaker is Ed Harper presenting a program on "Appreciating the Birds of the Central Valley”.  The CVBS gets off to a supercharged start with this lively and informative presentation. Ed is a widely known, popular and highly sought after speaker.
     Friday Night's keynote program is presented by Nat Seavey on “From Flood to Drought: A Bird’s-Eye View of Water Management in the Central Valley.“  Nat Seavey, is the Research Director of the Pacific Coast and Central Valley Group at Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO).  His research is focused on the ecology and conservation of riparian ecosystems, bird migration, the ecological effects of climate change, and applying science to conservation decision making and public policy.
     Saturday Night's keynote program is presented by Joel Greenberg on “The Echoes of their Wings: The Life and Legacy of the Passenger Pigeon."  For the past four years he has been a leader in Project  Passenger Pigeon which aims to mark the anniversary of the species' extinction. He is co-producing with director David  Mrazek the documentary, From Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction. It will be available in spring of 2014. 
     Workshops include: "Subspecies for Birders"  by Joe Morlan, "What Birders should know about Taxonomy in Flux" by Jon Dunn & Kimball Garrett, and a photo workshop by Bob Steele, plus, informative talks by Monica Iglesia, Sara Kross, and Bob Meese.  Andy Engilis and his UCD Museum crew will present the very popular Specimen Workshop. 
     Our field trips always turn up exciting birds. Add in the always entertaining and educational Bird ID Panel, the wonderful display of art and gifts for yourself or others at the Birder’s Market and the camaraderie of hundreds of like-minded folks, and you know you’ll have a good time! There's something for everyone interested in birds. Come and join us to bird, learn, and just have fun!
     To look over the line-up of speakers, workshops, and field trips or register, check out our website at:  Registration at:


Rare and Unusual Occurrences

at Stockton, Cal.

(from The Condor, Mar., 1901)


   This year seems an unusual one in the way of bird migration in San Joaquin County, having added to the list thus far several new visitants and also causing an influx of a single species heretofore unknown in this locality, though common in the eastern foothills.  I refer to the Blue-Fronted Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri frontalis.) (Steller’s Jay)

   This species has become so numerous in San Joaquin County, and especially within the city of Stockton, that it has for the time being, taken the place of the noisy California Jay (Aphelocoma californica.) (Western Scrub Jay)  My record of its first appearance is dated November 11, 1900, at which time I saw two of this species in the vicinity of Stockton.  Two days later I saw several of the birds within the limits of the city and from that time on they became quite numerous, showing very little fear in their new haunts and being seemingly at home in the white oaks (Valley Oaks) with which the city abounds.  Mr. Belding (Lyman Belding) informs me that he has found them in the heart of the Sacramento Valley, but has no record of their occurrence in this locality previous to this year.

   The abundance of the birds is shown by the result of a “blue-jay” shoot which five sportsmen from Stockton took part in on December 2, 1900.  They confined themselves to a small area northeast of the city and as a result of their shoot brought home 220 birds, 100 of which were California Jays (Western Scrub Jays) while the remaining 120 were of the Blue-fronted (Steller’s) species.  The birds are still here in large numbers and show no signs of decreasing.

W. B. Sampson

Stockton, Cal., Feb. 14, 1901



Verna Johnston, 95, a founding member of the Calaveras Big Trees Association and resident of Camp Connell, died in Carmel Valley March 1st.  Verna was a science educator, photographer and writer as well as a self-described lover of nature.

Born and educated in Illinois, she came to California, where she taught biology and environmental science at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton for 37 years. A well-known naturalist, Mrs. Johnston lived to educate and reveal the beauty and wonder in nature.

She published more than 100 articles in professional journals and popular magazines ranging from Audubon to The New York Times. Her first book, “Sierra Nevada,” was published in 1970 as part of the series “A Naturalist’s America,” edited by Roger Tory Peterson. Life Magazine featured her in an article in November 1998.

In 1982, she retired to Camp Connell to “hibernate, hike and write.” It was there that she wrote two more books, “California Forests & Woodlands: A Natural History” in 1994 and “Sierra Nevada: The Naturalist’s Companion” in 1999, both published by The University of California Press.  Her photos illustrate these books and the most recent is still available at the new Calaveras Big Trees State Park bookstore.

Ms. Johnston was an active member of the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society and other groups.  She was one of the first presidents of the (then) Stockton Audubon Society and was a respected environmental leader in Stockton for many years. She worked to protect native plants and animals in the Sierra and in California’s Central Valley, and was also active in helping to set aside Point Reyes National Seashore. She served on the San Joaquin County Parks and Recreation Commission during the time when Oak Grove Regional Park was developed and was a leader in having part of that park preserved as a natural area. She was also a founding member of the Calaveras Big Trees Association, where her photos will be on view at the new visitors’ center.

Verna donated books and photos to the Calaveras Big Trees Association and supported the Park in other ways as well.  Her love of books and the out-of-doors also led her to establish the Verna Johnson Nature Collection at the Arnold branch of the Calaveras County Public Library.

Following her wishes, Verna's ashes will be mixed with the earth of the Sierra Nevada, the place she called "home.”
Steve Stocking, Education Chair
San Joaquin Delta College, Retired
Board Member, Calaveras Big Trees Association


August 5, 2014 – October 14, 2014

(All sightings pertain to San Joaquin County)

Submitted by Liz West


Jim Rowoth found a Baird’s Sandpiper in a flooded field on Woodbridge Rd. on August 21st. It was seen August 23rd in the company of Least and Western Sandpipers. On August 24th, Terry Ronneberg saw one at Tracy Sewage Ponds, after not seeing the one at Woodbridge Rd. Terry also had a female Blue-winged Teal, most likely the one present in July. On September 23rd there were at least three Blue-winged Teals and on October 6th, David Yee estimated there were up to thirteen.

On an August 23rd San Joaquin Audubon trip to Oak Grove Regional park in Ripon, Mark Elness saw an early Varied Thrush among the Cedar Waxwings and Robins.

Cliff Hawley and Jim Rowoth found two Solitary Sandpipers, and Cliff observed a Bank Swallow and a Semipalmated Sandpiper, August 29th at the Ripon Sewage ponds.

David Yee and Jim Rowoth picked out a Chimney Swift flying with some White-throated Swifts and Barn Swallows over the Ripon Sewage Ponds on September 6th.

On September 11th, Dan Williams saw six Pectoral Sandpipers all together at the Lodi Sewage ponds.

David Yee found a Philadelphia Vireo at Lodi Lake, September19th, in a large mixed flock of warblers. It was seen by a few people the next day then disappeared.

At Tracy Sewage Ponds David Yee, saw a juvenile Sabine’s Gull on September 23rd. It was still present the next day.

Jim Rowoth and others observed a Band-Tailed Pigeon during a September 28th field trip to Ripon Oak Grove Park.  The bird was seen perched in a tree on the Stanislaus County side of the river.

David Yee found a Thick-billed Fox Sparrow at Heritage Oaks Winery on September 30th. There was also one seen at the winery last year.

There was an immature Harris’s Sparrow in David Yee’s Lodi backyard on October 6th and 7th.

San Joaquin Audubon Society
PO Box 7755, Stockton, California 95267

For more information contact:
San Joaquin Audubon Society President: Alan England

Send website comments or questions to:

Kasey Foley:




For San Joaquin Audubon Field Trips visit our Field Trips Page.




 Membership in the National Audubon Society includes:


San Joaquin Audubon's Hoot Owl newsletter 6 times per year.

AUDUBON magazine.

Monthly field trips led by San Joaquin Audubon members.

General Membership meetings from September-December and February-April.  We often have local experts presenting topics such as Beginning Birding, Gardening for birds and butterflies, Raptor Rehabilitation, Sandhill Cranes-our local winter wonders, Swainson's Hawk conservation, Slide presentations on trips to Mexico, Galapagos, Honduras, Florida,and much, much more.

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