The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is our bird of choice for this month’s “Dunes in Flight.” This heron’s range is extensive across North America, and several individuals may be spotted throughout the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex on any given day, particularly near bodies of water. They appear blue-gray with a wide black stripe over the eye. Primary flight feathers are a deep blue, while the forewing is pale or gray. Its wingspan is about 6 feet, and despite being up to 4 feet tall, it is a relatively lightweight bird at around 5 lbs.
Kiersten Demmond is an exceptional member of the Dunes Center’s educational team. Kiersten is a Liberal Studies and Studio Art student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and has been working specifically on the Dunes Center’s Creative Writing program, teaching students about natural science, different mediums of art, and integrating the two disciplines in her lessons. In her spare time, Kiersten enjoys hiking, spending time with friends, and exploring new mediums of art. Kiersten has been able to pursue subjects she is passionate about through the Dunes Center’s environmental education internship.
For the month of January, our chosen plant of the month is Marsh Sandwort, known scientifically as Arenaria paludicola. Marsh Sandwort has a very limited range, and has been federally listed as an endangered species since 1993.
The California Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus pacificus) is our bird of choice for this month’s “Dunes in Flight.” The great horned owl’s range is extensive across North and South America, and can be observed in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex by birders lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this majestic hunter. The bird’s plumage is rich brown with dark stripes on its underside. Its average wing span is roughly 2 feet. The average weight of male great horned owls is about 2.2lbs. Females, on average, are 2.9lbs. (more…)
For the month of December, our chosen plant of the month is Monterey pine. The Monterey Pine’s (Pinus radiata) leaves are evergreen needles; 4 to 6 inches long and grouped in bundles of 3. They’re slender and shiny green. The bark is thick and grey or dark reddish brown color. It grows pine-cones which are usually 3-5 inches long. Its sapwood color is a pale yellow.
The Dunes Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are teaming up to improve habitat conditions for the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii). Several man-made ponds are located throughout the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. These ponds host not only the federally listed species of amphibian,but multitudes of birds, reptiles, mammals, and other threatened and endangered species of plants as well.