Tag Archives: drought

Let’s Keep the Bluebird of Happiness

Cavity-nesting birds in East Portal Park

The drought has killed several trees in East Portal Park and I now see that many of them have been marked with an orange ring, presumably so that they can be taken down. While I recognize the need to remove any which pose a safety risk, it is also important for the city to consider the wildlife value of these very trees.

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Our city is home to a wide variety of bird species, many of which breed right in town. Among those birds, some nest only in cavities in trees. For the most part the trees, which provide the best cavities for these birds, are ones which are dead or dying. I walk East Portal Park nearly every morning and have noted that at least three bird species have nested each year in cavities in trees in this park: Nuttall’s Woodpecker (a woodpecker found only along the west coast in California and Oregon), Western Bluebird, and Oak Titmouse. In particular, all three species are using cavities in some of the marked trees. (Zelkova species, I believe.) I am hopeful that the city will consider saving at least one or two of these trees.

I also understand that, besides safety issues, there is an aesthetic reason for taking down dead or dying trees. Few people actually understand that, from a wildlife perspective, these are often the most valuable trees in a forests (urban OR native forests). Many other communities have recognized this and have implemented programs to try to save some of these trees, marking them with “Wildlife Tree” signage so that the public understands why they have been saved. One example is a program in place in Orange County (http://cavityconservation.com/). An example of the type of signage used is shown below.

I have included a few photos showing cavities which have been used by nesting birds in recent years in East Portal Park. One tree in particular has been very productive and I am hopeful that this tree, at least, can be retained. It is along M Street, just where 51st intersects.

Contributed by Ed Pandolfino, Ph.D. (former president of Western Field Ornithologists, co-author of Birds of the Sierra Nevada)


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Watering Rules Are Back

Coming soon: Spring-Summer watering rules effective March 8


When you reset your clocks this Sunday don’t forget to reset your sprinkler timers to comply with the City’s Spring Watering Rules. Effective March 8, Sacramento water users can water two days per week this spring and summer.

City residents did an outstanding job conserving water in 2014 during this severe drought.  A huge reason is the willingness to reduce landscape watering, which can make a big dent in overall household water use.

“It’s important to know your watering days.  Most water use comes from landscape irrigation.  There are many ways to save water at home, including shorter showers and water efficient fixtures and appliances,” said Bill Busath, Interim Director of the Department of Utilities. “However, reducing landscape irrigation can make the biggest difference of all.”

Watering days:

Before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

Addresses ending with an ODD number (1, 3, 5, 7, or 9) may water on Tuesday AND Saturday

Addresses ending with an EVEN number (0,2, 4, 6, or 8) may water on Wednesday AND Sunday

Other tips to help customers save water include:

  • Turn off sprinklers when the rain returns to the area or if there is rain in the forecast.
  • Use a broom or rake to move leaves off of sidewalks, driveways, and streets.
  • Call 311 to report water misuse or for more information about free water wise services and rebates.

More information about ways to save water can be found at www.SpareSacWater.org.


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