CSUMB’s Return of the Natives’ annual event set for Jan. 14

CSU Monterey Bay's Return of the Natives project is observing the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by offering people the chance to make a difference in the community.

Volunteers will be out at 7 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, looking for hawks, geese, ducks, wrens and a variety of other species at the Watershed Institute’s annual winter bird count at Upper Carr Lake in Salinas. Everyone – experienced birders and newcomers – is welcome to help during the three-hour count.

Insert a description of the image here.The lake, on East Laurel Drive between Constitution Boulevard and Sanborn Road, is a resting stop for migratory birds. In 2011, volunteers from Return of the Natives counted more than 70 species, including American coots, yellow-rumped warblers, a few egrets and several varieties of hawks.

Participants will be provided with a data sheet on the birds of Monterey County, published by the Monterey Peninsula Audubon Society, and a pair of binoculars.

After the bird count, volunteers are invited to help clean up the lake from 10 a.m. to noon. Tools, water and snacks will be provided.

“The diversity of bird species indicates the health of the ecosystem and its importance to migratory birds. Conducting annual counts helps us to evaluate the effectiveness of our restoration efforts,” said Jim Laske, an AmeriCorps VIP Fellow with Return of the Natives.

“And that emphasizes the purpose of the second half of the morning – to keep Upper Carr Lake clean and healthy to keep the birds coming back.”

According to the National Audubon Society’s website, the local bird survey is one of 2,000-plus similar counts over the last month. As many as 60,000 Audubon Society volunteers from Guam to Labrador and from Alaska to Chile slog through the woods, find their way up mountains or look out their kitchen windows for the squawking, quacking and tweeting flocks.

Return of the Natives will submit the information it gathers to California eBird, the Audubon Society’s online database.

For more information, contact Laske at jlaske@csumb.edu or 582-3686.