Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Certified Wildlife Habitat

The Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat site with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

In September the park will be receiving its signage from NWF!!

Search for us on

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cooper's Hawk

Photo by John Mellin

In our Backyard...

In late February a pair of Cooper's Hawks made their home at the north end of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) campus. Staff had found that the Hawks produced 2 eggs in their nest. Around early May staff had noted that the two young hawks started peaking over the nest. Since the nest was in close proximity to the Agency’s parking lot a warning needed to be sent to staff to be aware of the aggressive female hawk protecting her young.
Photo by John Mellin

Cooper's Hawks

Among the bird world’s most skillful fliers, Cooper’s Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. You’re most likely to see one prowling above a forest edge or field using just a few stiff wingbeats followed by a glide. With their smaller lookalike, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawks make for famously tricky identifications. Both species are sometimes unwanted guests at bird feeders, looking for an easy meal (but not one of sunflower seeds).

Cool Facts

  • Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a dangerous lifestyle. In a study of more than 300 Cooper’s Hawk skeletons, 23 percent showed old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula, or wishbone.
  • A Cooper's Hawk captures a bird with its feet and kills it by repeated squeezing. Falcons tend to kill their prey by biting it, but Cooper’s Hawks hold their catch away from the body until it dies. They’ve even been known to drown their prey, holding a bird underwater until it stopped moving.
  • Once thought averse to towns and cities, Cooper’s Hawks are now fairly common urban and suburban birds. Some studies show their numbers are actually higher in towns than in their natural habitat, forests. Cities provide plenty of Rock Pigeon and Mourning Dove prey. Though one study in Arizona found a downside to the high-dove diet: Cooper’s Hawk nestlings suffered from a parasitic disease they acquired from eating dove meat.
  • Life is tricky for male Cooper’s Hawks. As in most hawks, males are significantly smaller than their mates. The danger is that female Cooper’s Hawks specialize in eating medium-sized birds. Males tend to be submissive to females and to listen out for reassuring call notes the females make when they’re willing to be approached. Males build the nest, then provide nearly all the food to females and young over the next 90 days before the young fledge.
  • The oldest known Cooper's Hawk was 20 years, 4 months old. (allaboutbirds.org)http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Coopers_Hawk/lifehistory
Phot by John Mellin

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grapes and Pomegranates: Saving water while growing fruit.

In our demonstration garden at our headquarters we have a variety of grapes, and some pomegranate trees. Both of these fruits require very little to no water in our mediterranean climate. After all these fruits originiated from the mediterranean area.

Pomegranates and Grapes in our demonstration garden.
Grapes were first cultivated in central Asia, the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans were known to grow them domestically. There are a few species of grapes that are native to many different parts of the world. Quite a few are even from the U.S. such as the muscadine grapes and concord grapes. There is even a grape that is native to California the California Wilde Grape, (Vitis californica). The California Wild Grape can become a huge beautiful vine but the grapes themselves are tiny and very sour, not fun to eat. They are great for shading windows in the summer and letting sun in during the winter as they are deciduous. A lot of culinary grapes use the wild grape as a rootstock because it is so vigouros. All the grapes that we have in our demonstration garden are mediterranean type grapes because some of the others will require more water. We have quite a variety so that we can see which ones do the best in our park, we have a lot of critters and heavy clay soils.
Our grapes. Most grapes are water wise and climate appropriate to our region.
Pomegranates are also from central Asia. They are commonly grown in the middle east and southern europe along the mediterranean sea. Thomas Jefferson was one of the earliest Americans known to grow pomegranates, he planted some at Monticello in 1771. It's such a delicious fruit that Spain even renamed one of its cities to Granada which is an old term for pomegranate.
One of our youg pomegranates. These are also water wise and climate appropriate for our region.
If you want to grow these out here in Southern California, you'll only need to water them in their first year while they establish. After that, grapes and pomegranates should do just fine with little to no water.

By Andrew Kanzler, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator

Cambridge Educational Institute Visits the Chino Creek Park

Fourteen students from Cambridge Educational Institute visited the wetlands on Monday as part of the Water Discovery Program.   Santa Ana Watershed Association's Education staff took the students on a walk around the park to observe wildlife and learn about the local plants.    The students also made water cycle bracelets and got to meet a live snake- Miss Rosy Stripes, the rosy boa.   

Miss Rosy Stripes, the rosy boa.

By Carrie Raleigh, Education and Public Outreach Manager for SAWA