Latest Updates

🦉🌱🦋  Volunteer Session this Month and Next!

Thursday  - April 4th, 2024

Howdy, folks! 🙋🏽‍♀️


I'm lovin' this creative group photo Tracy captured of the volunteer crew at our last event!

They're looking at our burrowing owls, in case you couldn't tell. 


Here's Gail planting about 10 Hooker's Evening Primrose she grew at home. Join us in growing milkweed (or other natives) from seed for transplanting at Burrowing Owl Billows by signing up for Milkweeds for Monarchs (site).

Looks like Ryan is dumping some wood chips to be used to smother invasive nonnative weeds.

Here the volunteers are pulling weeds!

Linda captured these next photos of our volunteers and plants.

Here are some close ups of our drip irrigation system watering some of our plants.


March had a total of 25 burrowing owls in Shoreline Park!


PSA⚠️ If you're sharing this project on social media/with others, be sure to also inform them how the issue with everyone knowing the location of the owls is that there are then photographers, birders, and listers (people who play some kind of "bird bingo" by seeing how many bird species they can find) who swarm them, which can stress them out and disrupt their mating patterns. It may not seem like a big deal if it's just you and your camera, but you don't see how many of you there are. The birds do. It's one photographer after the next and it's not like any of these people are donating or volunteering on this project to help save them. Phil and Ryan have already caught 2 people climbing over the first fence since the last volunteer event. This is exactly the kind of behavior that hurts our owls' ability to survive and we must change our culture to be less selfish and more respectful if we hope to save them.


What do you do if you see this behavior in person? Approach them to educate them, but also take your camera phone out and record them. Even better, upload it to social media to spread the word. It's not just about dissuading bad players through community pressure, but also showing them what it feels like. You can also call the Shoreline Park ranger: 650-930-6655


I am by no means the best at it yet, but here's the most recent time I stopped tourist from harassing Hawaii's endangered sea turtles. There's a war happening in the comments, but this is a good thing, because it means more people are becoming more aware of why it's no ok to harass our endangered species. The biggest issue I see right now is that people don't even know our sea turtles are endangered or protected by law.


Now are you stoked to sign up or what? 🤪

THIS MONTH!


Volunteer events are:


Tuesday, April 16th, from 9-11am


and


Tuesday, April 30th, from 9-11am


We currently have 4/15 volunteers signed up for both events: Gail, Tracy, Gordon, and Tim.


If you'd like to join them, below are the requirements:

 ⛏️ The rest of the tools, such as shovels, pick axes, wheelbarrows, etc. will be provided. 

 🧤 Gloves will be provided as well but it's highly recommended you bring your own.

I'll be coming back to Mountain View to visit my family and join you in a 4-hour volunteer session on a weekend! YAY! For those of you who haven't been able to make the weekday events, this event is for you! I'll be cooking up a vegan meal as a snack midway through our volunteer session to treat you as well.


NEXT MONTH!


The volunteer event is:


SATURDAY, May 11th, from 8am-Noon


If you'd like to sign up, email me back so I can CC you into the instructions email that I send the day before, where Phil, our city's biologist, and the other volunteers signed up are. 


The plan for this month is that Phil has ordered ~140 native plants, about 50% of them milkweeds, to be planted at the new site Lake View Land, but that is TBD depending on when his team can get irrigation set up. The funding for these plants comes from Google. 


I'll be buying more plants for us to plant at Burrowing Owl Billows in May using my nonprofit's funds, which come from donations, my Shopify, and my Etsy.



Aisha with an 👁️

🦉🌱🦋  Volunteer next week Tuesday!

Monday  - March 18th, 2024

Happy birthday to me (yesterday)! 🥳🍀🐉


Dan sent these lovely pictures of y'all and our owls yesterday! Best. Gift. Everrrrrrr. 🤩

Look how tall the invasive nonnative grass has gotten (on our right) and what it looks like where our volunteers have cleared it (on our left)!

Perfectly camouflaged and cute. 🦉

Which is the rock and which is the owl? I bet you can't tell from a distance!


We're rocking this 2x/month schedule with another volunteer event next week, but I've only got 3 volunteers signed up so far (Gail, Tracy, and Gordon)! 


We need more volunteers to help weed at Burrowing Owl Billows! Here's when:


NEXT WEEK!

Tuesday, March 26th, from 9-11am


If you'd like to join them, below are the requirements:

 ⛏️ The rest of the tools, such as shovels, pick axes, wheelbarrows, etc. will be provided. 

 🧤 Gloves will be provided as well but it's highly recommended you bring your own.


If you'd like to sign up, email me back so I can CC you into the instructions email that I send the day before, where Phil, our city's biologist, and the other volunteers signed up are.


We've already scheduled next month's events as well, so you can RSVP to these too. They are all on Tuesdays, from 9-11am:


April 16th, April 30th


So far, only Tracy and Gordon have RSVP'd to these!


Aisha with an 👁️

🦉🌱🦋  Urgently need more volunteers for Monday next week!

Thursday  - March 7th, 2024

Howdy, folks! 🤠


We've got our next volunteer event coming up QUICK and we've only got 2 volunteers signed up so far (Gail and Lutz)! 


We need more volunteers to help weed at Burrowing Owl Billows! Here's when:


NEXT WEEK!

Monday, March 11th, from 9-11am


If you'd like to join them, below are the requirements:

 ⛏️ The rest of the tools, such as shovels, pick axes, wheelbarrows, etc. will be provided. 

 🧤 Gloves will be provided as well but it's highly recommended you bring your own.


If you'd like to sign up, email me back so I can CC you into the instructions email I send the day before, where. Phil, our city's biologist, and the other volunteers signed up are.


We've already scheduled the next few events as well, so you can RSVP to these too. They are all on Tuesdays, from 9-11am:


March 26th, April 16th, April 30th


Here are the photos Dan took of our volunteer crew at our last event as well as one of our precious owls, watching! 👀

Palo Alto Online just came out with an article about our babies.  They're in big trouble and we're all on the frontlines of saving them!


Thanks, Susan, for sharing this article with me so I can share it with everyone else too!

A California burrowing owl. Courtesy Scott and Heather Artis/Center for Biological Diversity via Bay City News.

Environmental advocates on Tuesday, March 5, urged the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the ‘imperiled’ populations of the western burrowing owl under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

Under a petition sent to the FGC, conservation groups sought endangered status for burrowing owls in southwestern California, central-western California and the San Francisco Bay Area, and threatened status for burrowing owls in the Central Valley and southern desert range.

“These fascinating ground-dwelling owls need relief from being bulldozed or evicted to make way for urban sprawl,” said Jeff Miller, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’ve witnessed the disappearance of burrowing owls from much of California over the past two decades, and it pains me to watch their extinction trajectory. They need immediate protections if we want to keep these owls around to grace our grasslands and open spaces.”

The burrowing owl — the only owl species that nests and roosts underground — was widespread before in California and commonly nested in grasslands but they have suffered significant habitat loss due to urban development, conversion of grasslands to agricultural lands, and large-scale wind and solar energy infrastructure. They get also killed by rodenticides and collisions with wind turbines and cars, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

“When a formerly common species disappears from our landscape, what does it say about the health of our ecosystems? Abundant burrowing owls once brought so much joy to residents of our valley, but development has pushed them to the brink of extinction,” said Shani Kleinhaus of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.

‘When a formerly common species disappears from our landscape, what does it say about the health of our ecosystems? Abundant burrowing owls once brought so much joy to residents of our valley, but development has pushed them to the brink of extinction.’

Shani Kleinhaus, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society

Under the California Endangered Species Act, state and local agencies would be mandated to address threats including the end the state policy that allows owls to be evicted from lands slated for development and requiring adequate mitigation for habitat loss, conservation groups said.

To prevent the total disappearance of burrowing owls from California, advocates emphasize the need for state planning efforts and direct intervention to boost the population of the species.

Burrowing owls at Shoreline Park in Mountain View. Courtesy Tom Grey.

“State protections are urgently needed since the environmental review process hasn’t meaningfully protected or conserved burrowing owls,” said Catherine Portman with the Burrowing Owl Preservation Society. “We’ve tried to get mitigation for owl habitat destroyed by scores of development projects in Yolo County, but owl colonies are routinely evicted without requiring habitat protections. For example, 103 acres of prime burrowing owl breeding habitat in Yolo County were developed in 2015 in exchange for only 19.5 acres at a mitigation bank that has never hosted nesting owls.”

According to conservation groups, the current state policy allows burrowing owls to be “passively excluded from breeding sites during the non-breeding season to accommodate urban development. They stressed that many evicted owls do not survive and rarely do they successfully breed elsewhere.

“In mere decades, California has seen the decimation of formerly thriving populations of burrowing owls, once one of the more common birds in California,” said Scott Artis with Urban Bird Foundation. “These unique underground owls, with a life history fine-tuned over millions of years, are now in a fight for survival and need increased state protections without delay.”

Large solar and wind projects are also killing and displacing lots of burrowing owls in California each year, advocates said.

“Increased renewable energy development to mitigate climate change impacts should not exacerbate the biodiversity crisis or come at the expense of thriving burrowing owl populations,” said Pamela Flick, California program director with Defenders of Wildlife. “Unfortunately, the existing policy framework has not proven adequate to protect these charismatic owls, so legal protections under the California Endangered Species Act are now urgently needed.”

A burrowing owl at Shoreline Park in Mountain View. Courtesy Tom Grey.

According to environmental groups, burrowing owls are nearing “localized extinction” in the Bay Area, where fewer than 25 breeding pairs remain. About 225 breeding pairs are estimated in central-western and southwestern California, and fewer than 1,500 breeding pairs in the southern Central Valley.

🦉🌱🦋  Volunteer next week, Tuesday & Two more events in March!

Tuesday  - February 20th, 2024

Happy President's Day! 🇺🇸


The bar's been set real low, so I'm now thinking I have a shot at it. 🤪


️⭐️ If you're new: You can catch up on The Guardian Project on our website and learn more about burrowing owls from this music video!


The next event you can sign up for to help weed and prep our project sites within Shoreline Park for our Spring planting is:


NEXT WEEK!

Tuesday, February 27th, from 9-11am


We've got 5 volunteers signed up so far (Gail, Tim, Li, Eric, and Michael)! If you'd like to join them, below are the requirements:

 ⛏️ The rest of the tools, such as shovels, pick axes, wheelbarrows, etc. will be provided. 

 🧤 Gloves will be provided as well but it's highly recommended you bring your own.


If you'd like to sign up, email me back so I can CC you into the instructions email I send the day before, where Phil, our city's biologist, and the other volunteers signed up are.


We've already scheduled next month's volunteer sessions as well, so you can RSVP now to those too:


NEXT MONTH!

Monday, March 11th, from 9-11am


and


Tuesday, March 26th, from 9-11am


Now onto what happened at our last event!


Check out this MASSIVE pile of weeds our volunteer crew uprooted! WELL DONE, GUYS! 🤩

Thanks for making sure we got the group shot, Melissa!


Woooooow! Here you can see more piles of their weeds, shot by Tracy.

Here's a candid shot of our volunteer crew at work at Burrowing Owl Billows, also taken by Melissa.

Another candid shot by Tracy. Nice suspenders, Alan. 😎

Phil surveys the area still in need of weeding (📷: Melissa).

Those orange flags behind Phil are where Gail planted 11 native sunflowers she germinated from seeds she collected from Burrowing Owl Billows in October. 

They're tiny but they're there! (📷: Tracy!)


She sprinkled crushed eggshells around them, which should help keep those pesky snails away and provide additional nutrients to her plants as they break down. Please bring more eggshells if you've got them so we can try this with more of our plants!


Those trays are Gail's sunflowers before transplantation (📷: Melissa).

 If you're a gardener and thinking, "I want to grow native plants to transplant for the burrowing owls/monarchs at Shoreline Park!" head on over to our Milkweeds for Monarchs site and join the mailing list!


Daniel, Gail, Melissa, and Phil all brought to my attention that our milkweeds are germinating early! Phil says it's "unusual for this time of year." Daniel says, "Avoiding the spots with milkweed root systems is the toughest thing to deal with right now." We're hoping not to get a hard frost that could damage them while they're at their most sensitive state of growth. This weather is WHACK!

You can do it, little buddy!   (📷: Phil)


Melissa captured our deity, ur, I mean, owl, watching them work. Coo coo!

Another owl watching! They saw three owls, one solo and a pair. 

Tracy recorded this video of a queen bumblebee pollinating blue witch flowers with Gail and Phil weeding in the background.

Aisha's Update: I'm almost over the constant pain I've been enduring from the back injury I sustained in July at my mermaid job last year! Whoo hoo! As such, I started substitute teaching last week. After a kid was pulled out of my class by police for pretending to bring a gun to school, and another kid, named Patrick, just like my stalker, if you can recall, started stalking me after I called security on him for hurting other students, I am now looking into talking to the mayor to see what needs to happen for these schools to get the mental health services and positive socialization classes they need to prevent future criminals. Never a dull moment in Maui, that's for sure!

Aisha with an 👁️

🦉🌱🦋  We need volunteers to WEED at Burrowing Owl Billows this month!

Tuesday  - February 6th, 2024

Howdy!


We've scheduled 2 volunteer events this month because Burrowing Owl Billows needs some major weeding after this rain storm! What do we know about what happens after it rains? The invasive nonnative weeds EXPLOOOOODE and choke out our plants for resources, but it also gets easier to pull them out of the soaked soil!


Here are the dates/times:


Monday, February 12th, from 9-11am (next week!)


and


Tuesday, February 27th, from 9-11am


Here are the requirements:

 ⛏️ The rest of the tools, such as shovels, pick axes, wheelbarrows, etc. will be provided. 

 🧤 Gloves will be provided as well but it's highly recommended you bring your own.


If you'd like to sign up, email me back so I can add you to the roster. I'll create a separate thread just for volunteers signed up to connect you with the others who have and everyone additional directions!


Also, we're going to try sprinkling crushed eggshells around our plants to prevent snails from eating them! They'll also give our plants a calcium boost! Please save your eggshells and, if you have access to a corporate cafeteria where they may be using eggs in bulk, you'd be a hero if you grabbed their eggshells!

Thank you to our volunteers from January 30th's event at Lake View Land! Phil estimated there to be about 18 owls last month.

We've got some charades going on in this next photo: It looks like we're loving these new wheelbarrows! 🤪 I think Ryan may be fishing for something off frame...

Thanks, Daniel, for organizing the group photo and Gail for taking it!


Tracy snapped this photo of the crew laying down cardboard and mulch to suppress the invasive nonnative weeds to prep for our planting this upcoming spring.

Li got this photo of the entire area completely covered in mulch! Good job, everyone!

There were a couple curiosities at the site, including this "slime mold," identified by Heidi as a "Dog Sick Slime Mold," not to be confused with a "Dog Vomit Slime Mold," and praying mantis egg!

Additional information about slime molds from Heidi, because I did not know, either, that these are even a thing: I am a BIG slime mold fan! I love this organism. It feeds on bacteria, fungi and decaying organic matter (hence its presence on the chips pile). It is a soil-dwelling amoeba, a brainless, single-celled organism. Not dangerous. It belongs to the kingdom "Protista". Slime molds have been studied for their unusual behavior, including their ability to navigate mazes and solve complex problems despite lacking a nervous system. They love oatmeal and can be trained!


WHAT! So cool! 

And then there's this mantis egg both Gail and Tracy photographed! It has a hard shell, like insulation foam that has hardened. 


Daniel, our regular wildlife photographer, also captured these beauties from the new project site:

A pied-billed grebe!

A black-tailed jackrabbit!

A snowy egret!

A... CAT?! This feral cat has avoided all of Shoreline's trap for over a year! I've been working on figuring out the issue with feral cats here in Maui. Once I build out the project more in a presentable way I'll share it with y'all!


I had to reduce the file sizes of the photos and I couldn't include them all, so you can find the full-res versions and collection of all the lovely photos our volunteers took here.


We could use help getting more volunteers this month for weeding! I post to Nextdoor when I send these emails out to you guys, but if you also do this and bring it up with your other communities, I'm sure we'd get more sign ups! There's gonna be A LOT of weeds to pull!



Aisha with an 👁️

🦉🌱🦋  Next Volunteer Event: January 30th, 9-11am

Wednesday  - January 17th, 2024

Our January session is still on! 


Phil Higgins, Mountain View City's biologist, just wanted to give us a heads up about the new centralized, online volunteer-system that will be required for signing up for future events once his division migrates over. It hasn't yet, so we will continue onward as usual!


Here's a couple photos of our volunteers mulching the new project site, nicknamed "Lakeview Land." We need to apply a few more layers here in preparation for our spring planting.

I believe their sign says "Shoreline Community." Unofficially, y'all have been a part of "The Guardian Project," which is the part of the community I've been organizing.


Phil reported an estimated total of 25 burrowing owls residing at Shoreline Park at our last event! 


Our next volunteer session is:


Tuesday, January 30th, from 9-11am


I am intentionally scheduling the last Tuesday of each month at the same time so y'all can more predictably plan your schedules!


Here are the volunteer requirements:

 ⛏️ The rest of the tools, such as shovels, pick axes, wheelbarrows, etc. will be provided. 

 🧤 Gloves will be provided as well but it's highly recommended you bring your own.


 WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE AT BURROWING OWL BILLOWS


We will be at the new area, Lakeview Land, which is on the opposite side of Shoreline from Burrowing Owl Billows.


If you'd like to sign up, email me back so I can add you to the roster. I'll create a separate thread just for volunteers signed up to provide you with directions on where to meet.



Aisha with an 👁️

🦉🌱🦋  Next Volunteer Event... 

Wednesday  - January 17th, 2024

Happy New Year, Volunteers! 🥳


I'd mentioned previously that the next event at Shoreline Park, Mountain View is January 30th, but Phil just told me the city is doing an overhaul of their volunteer system, which will include online waivers and police station fingerprinting! Yay for community safety and future convenience, but boo for more process when we just wanna weed and plant!


A couple of you reached out wanting to sign up, so I wanted to let you know to wait until I get a greenlight from Phil with instructions about the new process to share with you.


In the meantime, enjoy this video I made of my burrowing owl rock:

Aisha with an 👁️