SF Rec and Park and Golden Gate Audubon Society Get Nests Ready for White-Crowned Sparrows

SAN FRANCISCO – For the fifth consecutive year, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department partnered up with the Golden Gate Audubon Society and volunteers to restore White-Crowned Sparrow habitats and other coastal scrub species at the edge of the Bison Paddock in Golden Gate Park. Today, volunteers removed invasive weeds and planted native species that would attract the White-Crowned Sparrows to nest. In addition, each fall, volunteers clean out the nest boxes — removing the previous season’s nesting material to prepare them for the next nesting season and documenting contents such as eggs that did not hatch. Currently, there are ten clutches (batches of eggs) in this area.


“Because of our partnership with the Golden Gate Audubon Society and our passionate volunteers, San Franciscans can enjoy watching birds and bison thrive in Golden Gate Park,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “We welcome the public to join us in our efforts to restore parks and natural areas, and encourage the return of wildlife in our City.”


The goal of the restoration project was to create habitat and nesting opportunities for White-Crowned Sparrows, a species that is diminishing in San Francisco. The Nuttall’s subspecies of White-Crowned Sparrows live along the California coast year round, while other subspecies spend only the winter here. White-Crowned Sparrows nest in a clump of vegetation on the ground or at the base of a bush or short tree. The nests are made of grass, leaves, twigs, pine, moss, bark, hair and feathers. The sparrows lay between two and five eggs in each clutch.


“We’ve been delighted to work with Rec & Parks to enhance the habitat by the paddock for wildlife and people,” said Cindy Margulis, Executive Director of Golden Gate Audubon Society. “Our members have cherished this remarkable park since our founding a century ago.  Restoration is one of the ways we can sustain the marvels of nature in urban parklands.”


Volunteer opportunities for SF Rec and Park exist in every corner of the city and volunteers can choose from a variety of projects-from individual to group-based, from one-time to long-term, from indoor to outdoor, from locally-focused to city-minded. Please visit https://sfrecpark.org/support-your-parks/volunteer-program/ to become a SF Rec and Park volunteer.


“It’s so rewarding to work with volunteers to restore wildlife habitat and witness the fruits of our labor – it’s also nice to get outside and improve the parks that we love,” said Kimberly Kiefer, Director of Volunteer Services at SF Rec and Park. “Volunteers contribute 187,000 hours of service annually – which is an invaluable contribution to our city.”


Golden Gate Audubon member Susan Mullaney has volunteered at the Bison Paddock for over three years. Her work typically involves weeding along the edge of the path in the dry months of summer. In the winter, she plants native seedlings that provides food and shelter for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. She also helps clean out the nest boxes each fall, after breeding season is over. The nest boxes are used by Tree Swallows and Western Bluebirds. Mullaney said she has seen an increase in bird activity at the paddock over her three years working there. 


“I see and hear more birds,” said Susan Mullaney. “It’s a little denser with vegetation, and the vegetation is more well-established. We’ve had American Goldfinches, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Tree Swallows, and juncos. And all summer the area is filled with hummingbirds.”


The Golden Gate Audubon Society was founded in 1917 with the mission to engage the public to experience the wonder of birds and protect native bird populations and their habitats. For more about the Golden Gate Audubon Society, please visit www.goldengateaudubon.org.



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