Brood Patch


cedar waxwing.jpeg1

In the flood plain of Prairie Creek, a few miles north of a small town called Orick, there’s a meadow I often walk through to spy on birds or escape the dark-closed canopy of fog-scraping redwoods. In the winter it’s a flooded swamp; during the summer it’s a field of sun-loving plants that cannot otherwise grow under the shade of the giant trees that surround this openness. Hwy 101 was constructed right through the middle of this prairie, polluting the natural melody with monstrous roars of metal demons whisking humans off to work, school, church, or a lover’s house.

When winter had ended and the water receded, spring’s vitality was reborn in this seasonally emerged marsh. I navigated through waist-high sedges hoping to witness the courtship of the many birds I heard singing. Every newly unfolded alder and willow bud became a vibrant green, sun-reflecting leaf. Dragonflies caught the morning light in their membranous wings and glowed like fairies from a mythical world. Freed from their submerged larval stages, sunlit caddis, stone, and mayflies floated over the meadow like fireflies of the day.

Suddenly, an acrobatic dance caught my attention. Two cedar waxwings, tan-colored, sparrow-sized birds with pointed crests and blackface masks, chased each other from alder to willow and from spruce to redwood. Following their bouncing flight with my eyes, I watched them engage in what looked like lovers tag. The pursuit temporarily ended in a redwood close to where I stood. Then, from a low branch, one of them dove off like a hawk-without flapping its wings-snatched an unsuspecting insect from the air. It slowed its diving momentum, hovering for an instant with the legs of its victim sticking out from the sides of its beak, and then turned to fly higher up in the same tree. It landed among some branches that held a clump of weaved twigs. A nest! I decided to make myself comfortable on a damp-decomposing log, watching the hunt to feed their young.

Both birds began chasing each other around the meadow again. They whizzed by only a few feet above my head and then across the road where a speeding car came roaring through and caught the leading bird on its windshield. The little body was thrown straight up into the air and then came tumbling back down to earth. I watched it drop with an unheard thud on the pavement; a small cloud of sunlit feathers drifted off in a breeze created by the fleeing vehicle. The bird’s mate landed next to it, hopping around the body making high-pitched cooing sounds, waiting for its companion to rise again. After a few minutes, it seemed to come to the tragic realization of its mate’s death. The survivor flew off, disappearing into a silhouette of trees.

My heart was breaking as I walked onto the black road to retrieve the small-feathered corpse. Holding the beautifully crested bird in my hand, I noticed an area of feathers was missing from her underside. This was the mother. She had plucked a section of her belly clean so that her warm, pink skin would have direct contact with her eggs and featherless young-a brood patch. I wondered if the father would return to feed his young or if the few hatchlings would starve to death in their nest, 50 feet up a redwood tree. I walked a mile along the highway before I realized the bird was still in my hand. When I kneeled down to bury her in the creek’s waters, I saw the stream-dwelling larvae of the insects that once fed this mother’s young and knew that they would not starve.


Photo by © 2006 Tom Greer

Griff’s Wild Tips: Report Poachers! They Suck!


Have you ever gone to a nature preserve or park and received a talk from an interpretive ranger about respecting the park and its resources and then a hour later you see someone else who got the same exact talk harass, injure, capture, collect, or kill an animal or plant that you came to see?!

Sadly there are many different reasons why people poach. As the human population continues to sky rocket, so do the incidences of poaching from the pet trade, ivory trade, sell of skins, horns, and teeth as trinkets/souvenirs, real and perceived medicines, bush meat, and ignorance and fear.

In this episode of Griff’s Wild Tips, I address one aspect of poaching: reporting it.  Poachers need to be reported every time they’re spotted. Your safety is the most important though, so I advise extreme caution. Do not attempt to stop the crime yourself. In this episode of Griff’s Wild Tips titled, “Report Poachers! They Suck!” I will give you some tips on where to report poachers and how to do it safely. Check out this episode so that you are ready the next time you see a crime against native plants and wildlife in progress.

There are lots of different agencies to report poachers too. Below are some links to help you find the most appropriate conservation officers in your area.

A group called The Quality Deer Management Association has provided some information about reporting poachers as well as a list of numbers for reporting poaching activity in most of the US states. Here.

To report a poacher on federal or state land, you can contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service at 1-844-FWS-TIPS or email them at FWS_Tips@FWS.GOV  Check out their poaching page here.

To report a poacher or polluter in my state: California, call  1 (888) 334-2258 or 1 (888) 334-CalTIP. To learn more about California Fish and Wildlife’s anonymous poacher reporting program click here.

Here is a link to an article/interview with a conservation officer from South Africa who works in very dangerous conditions to try to save rhinos from groups of terrorists and opportunists. The interview/article was conducted by one of my favorite conservation thinkers/writers and friend Jason Goldman. Check out this very interesting and alarming piece titled,

“A Q&A with a Ranger on the Front Line of the War with Rhino Poachers”


Happy Action and Forgiveness Earth Day

Robert Hanna

I spent John Muir’s Birthday (yesterday), indoors, breaking my ritual of hiking on it. I was sick as heck with a merciless cold. I’m still sick, but in recovery mode. I’m bummed that I missed honoring one of the fathers of conservation’s b-day with a climb into the hills to see the beauty of California. John Muir inspires me the way he does many conservationists. I appreciate what he was able to accomplish within the era that he lived. It’s beyond profound. Just ask Yosemite. I’m not sure one person could replicate those successes today. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

(The pic above is of me and my friend Robert Hanna who is John Muir’s great, great grandson.)

Yet, we often put people like him on pedestals, imbuing them with imagined magic powers, and then get angry and disenfranchised when we learn something was not perfect about them. When we learn that they were just like us, they no longer seem like heroes. Stop that. You’re setting yourself up. Look for perfection and you will discover disappointment, especially in yourself. Everyone is or was works in progress: even Rachel Carson, John Muir, and Jane Goodall. Everyone has a skeleton, or even a whole cemetery, in their closet. I see you. I see me. Any of us can be “heroes” for the Earth. We will be imperfect heroes, for sure. Some us will be heroes with piles of bones in our closets. We should work on dislodging the logs from our eyes before concerning ourselves with the logs in others’ eyes. (Yes, I meant to say “logs” twice).

I think Earth Day is a good time to “see” and reflect on our collective mistakes. And then try to forgive. Our mistreatment of the Earth, and its inhabitants, gets more intense and impactful the larger and more industrialized our population gets. There were one billion of us in 1900. There are almost 8 billion of us just 118 years later. Our “footprint” on this planet has become alarmingly big and heavy. And that’s why we need an Earth Day. That’s why we need an Earth Day consciousness 24/7. We need the forgiveness that action in behalf of our natural systems can bring us. Not just on April 22nd, but on as many days as possible.

Earth Day is a good reminder that we are all complicit in the poisoning of air, soil, and water and the wanton endangerment of so many species that once thrived on this planet alongside us. And that we are all in this together in regards to the Earth’s preservation and restoration.

Earth Day is about acknowledging that there is work being done to make the world a better place and that there’s still a lot more work to do.

I’m going to continue to keep working for a biodiverse Earth. Working for me means being empathetic and taking compassionate action. That’s why I started my YouTube series “Griff’s Wild Tips: to help you to help wildlife and their habitats. I also have a blog at where I provide information to help you to help wildlife. And next month, a network will release their videos of me celebrating wildlife-and animal-solutionaries on their digital platform!!! (Stay tuned! I can’t say more about that now).

Today, I am announcing a new effort! I just “launched” a Facebook group called “Griff’s Wild Tips: Ways That You Can Help Wildlife.” The goal of this group is to equip members to help wildlife and their habitats. We will share simple solutions like teaching you how to tell if the wildlife you encounter needs help or not, or how to attract birds to your yard, to larger things like how to organize a cleanup or restoration event. Again, this is a solution-oriented group for sharing of information about actions we can take to help wildlife and their habitats (homes). It is not a political group. Everyone who has interest in topics related to wildlife conservation from the greenest novice to the career professional is welcome to join. Hunters to vegans are welcome. Conservatives and liberals are welcome. People from all points of the political spectrum are welcome as this will be moderated as a contempt-free zone. Please read the “announcement” pinned on the group page before posting (should be some “ground rules” pinned to the top of the group page).  Click here to join Griff’s Wild Tips: Way to Help Wildlife Facebook group.


Happy Earth Day.

Griff’s Wild Tips: Fawn Nappers!

Don’t be a fawn napper! I’m Griff and welcome to Griff’s Wild Tips. This blog post accompanies the video on my YouTube channel titled, Griff’s Wild Tips: Don’t be a Fawn Napper. I hope the video helps you, help others, help fawns.

Why do fawns need help?

The problem is that every Spring and Summer wildlife care centers receive a bunch of fawns from compassionate people who don’t realize that they’re actually fawn nappers.

Yeah, I said it: fawn nappers.

These kind-hearted and ignorant people believe that the fawn they see sitting quietly is helpless and orphaned. So they pick it up and take it home. Bless your compassionate hearts, but that’s rarely ever actually the case. Momma deer have been leaving their fawns unattended for hours at time for millions of years. By taking that fawn home, you are most likely dooming it to a short life of suffering. I know that’s not what you intend, but it’s probably what will happen.

“Mother deer know that their presence near their babies alerts predators to the fawns’ existence, which puts them at risk. In order to keep her young safe, a doe will leave her fawn in a secluded area, often for as long as 12 hours, distracting predators away from her baby while she forages for food.

Fawns’ camouflage, and their ability to stay still, keep them safe from predators while their mother is away. When approached by a perceived predator (humans, pets or wildlife) a fawn’s instinctual response is to lay very low and not move at all. People often mistake this defensive behavior for injury, weakness or illness, but in fact it is the behavior of survival.”

To learn how you can become more fawn savvy, check out these four relevant resources:

If you want to donate to, volunteer, or learn about fawn rescue, visit Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue. I have visited the facility and met and worked with the founder Diane Nicholas. She is an amazing person who I am happy to be on the planet with at the same time. I am beyond impressed and grateful for her efforts. Please check out her website and support her anyway you can.

Here is a short and helpful article titled, Found a Fawn: What to do written by National Wildlife Federation’s spokesperson David Misejewski.

And if you ever encounter a fawn and have a question, contact your local wildlife care center. You can find one near you here on this wildlife care center online directory.

You can always get excellent information about coexisting with wildlife from the wildlife care center called, WildCare. I am familiar with the staff and facility, and I am very grateful for their efforts to help wildlife 24/7.

Thanks for caring about wildlife and their habitats (aka homes). In each webisode and blog post, I will help you understand what you can do to create a better world for wildlife one Griff’s Wild Tip at a time.

(Photos by Teresa Baker and Suzi Eszterhas)




Baby Turtle Poops Plastic

sea turtle John White

I travel a lot, and I’m almost always in a hurry when doing so. Sometimes I forget my water bottle or coffee mug. I never bring a plate or a fork. But guess what? One-time-use plastics are to the rescue, and they are so convenient. And they’re everywhere. In fact, they’re practically pushed on me. But that’s not really a great thing. It actually sucks.  If I don’t catch clerks or wait-staff in time, I will have a whole dump’s worth of plastic bags, straws, and plastic lids in my hands or on my lap. I’m definitely not the worse offender, but I can do better. Our wildlife, our health, and our children’s’ prosperity are being compromised for our conveniences. Many of us feel like we are in too much of a hurry to worry about plastics and their hard-core impacts. We often feel like we’re too busy trying to pay the rent/mortgage, car payment, credit cards, and student loans to reflect on the impacts of our lifestyles. We most often don’t feel like we have time to maintain (remembering to bring and wash) reusable cups/forks/knives/straws, or to carry cloth bags with us, or to remember to ask for “no straws, please.” But we do. Look at what we are doing to wildlife. That’s not who we want to be. Right?! We have time. We can do better. We must. Shout out to you compassionate folks who are miles ahead of me on your reusables usage. You rock! And shout out to the innovators and law makers and voters who find low-impact options for us, or encourage us to find options for ourselves. Shout out to you very busy hustling folks that still have time to be compassionate. Shout out to you folks who vote with your dollar by purchasing the most environmentally friendly options. You inspire. Keep it up.

The photo of the adult loggerhead turtle (above) was taken by John White.

Check out this video of a baby turtle that was rescued after pooping plastic.

Eight Tips to Make a Fishing Line Cleanup Event Successful.


Hey, Im Griff. This is the accompanying blog to the the Griff’s Wild Tips video, titled Save Wildlife, Pick up Fishing Line. In each episode of Griff’s Wild Tips, I will show you something that you can do to help wildlife and their habitats (aka homes). In this episode, I explain the dangers posed to wildlife by littered fishing line and show you what you can do about it. It’s simple. Whenever you see discarded fishing line pick it up, cut it up, and pack it out. But one person cannot do it all alone, that’s why I encourage you to organize a fishing line cleanup event. It could be a with your family, a group of friends, or you could go big and organize a volunteer event and invite people from your community.

Several years ago, my California Conservation Corps (CCC) crew and I found a western grebe entangled in fishing line on the shore of Lake Mendocino. The line had already dug deeply into the bird’s flesh and caused life-threatening damage. We had to help it. The closest wildlife rehabilitation center was almost two-hours drive away, so we called a few local vets until we found one who would take it. Since then, I take CCC members to the same spot where we found the bird and we pick up discarded fishing line.

In this Griff’s Wild Tips episode, I’m going give you some 8 pointers to help you successfully implement a fishing line cleanup effort with a small group of friends, or a large group of volunteers.

Remember that if you organize any cleanup event, try to make it fun as possible. The more fun, the more likely that people will return to do it again. There are a lot of ways to make a fishing line cleanup fun. Before, after, or during the cleanup you can take a swim break, dance break, or fishing break. You can use your iNaturalist ap to document what organisms you discover in the area. You can have a rock skipping contest. You can play a game of ninja pose, or you can even teach everyone how to do the nature-celebrating BioBlitz Dance!

Just get out there and do it! Discarded fishing line kills and we need to pick it up! And the more we pick up, the less suffering wildlife will have to endure. Here’s some other things you should consider while conducting a fishing line cleanup event with a group of people.

  1. First off have a safety meeting. Below are some safety considerations and links to more information. Keep in mind that each site and group will have its own safety challenges, considerations, and strategies.
  • Identify anyone who cannot swim and assign them to a territory not directly near deep water.
  • Take ten minutes or so to teach the reach, wade, throw, row method of saving a drowning victim.
  • Remind folks to wear leather gloves due to rusty hooks. Recommend that they also have an updated tetanus shot before participating.
  • Bring at least one throw rope and demonstrate its proper use.


  • Make sure everyone practices the buddy system and stays in their team’s designated territory.
  • Identify the nearest hospital to the group. And take note of whether or not you have reception in the case that you have to call 911.
  • If you are at a public park, you may want to let the managing agency know what you’re doing. They may be able to provide trash bags and safety support.
  • Consider inviting a life guard to your event if necessary.
  1. Depending on your group, the cleanup may be more fun if you made it competitive by splitting up the volunteers into teams. This will also have the added benefit of motivating folks to stay on task and be more productive.
  2.  Before the teams start, share some grim pictures of wildlife entanglements. Remind them of how important this task is. Thank them for being compassionate enough to help. April Washington 2 (2)
  3. Identify each team’s territory, let them know the allotted time for the cleanup and say, “Go!”
  4. Get permission to photograph and video a few participants picking up the line, interview some of the volunteers, and post the pics and videos to social media with the hashtag #GriffsWildTips and #PickUpFishingLine
  5. At the end of the event, gather up the teams and thank them for their participation and remind them that what they did prevented a lot of suffering.
  6. Have them pile their line in front of their group and appoint a judge to decide who gathered the most.
  7. While they are waiting to hear who the winning team is, let them know where the closest wildlife care center in case they ever find an entangled or hooked animal. Remind them that the care centers rely on volunteers and donations, so anything they can contribute to their local wildlife care center would be greatly appreciated. For an online directory of wildlife care centers, click here.

If you pick up fishing line on your own, with friends, your family, or a group of volunteers, please take photos, upload them to social media and tag me by using the hashtag #GriffsWildTips

Subscribe to my channel to see more Griff’s Wild Tips and the occasional dance video. And please share Griff’s Wild Tips videos often. Did you see the last one titled, How to Make Seed Bombs? It’s going to take a lot more of us who care about our finned, furred, feathered, and scaled neighbors to take actions (big and small) to save their habitat (homes).

Katelyn Rose Garcia


I Get By With A Little Help from My Facebook Friends.

This week I wrote a post on Facebook asking you for some good news. At the time that I asked for your good news, I was suffering from what some folks call, “ecological depression.” I define it as the state of hopelessness that I feel when I witness wildlife and their habitats losing ground against humans’ continuously spreading impacts.

In my late teens and twenties, I felt this despair often enough that it radicalized me for a while. But thanks to some good mentors, I learned that those tactics that arose out of despair/anger weren’t as helpful as I wanted them to be. So, I switched it up. I followed in the steps of people who were using empathy, compassion, and peaceful community action to help wildlife and their habitats (environmental educators, wildlife rehabilitators, ecological restorationists, and natural resource interpreters).  That is how I became a practicing Solutionary.

Still… once in awhile I get sucked into the hopelessness and despair and anger. That’s when I need to identify things to be grateful for. I was having a problem going into that mode this week, so I asked y’all for help. You came through in a big way. Thank you! There were way more comments than I expected and all of them were celebrations of good news! It only took reading a few comments to notice that I was starting to feel better. And each one after brought me further out of the rut. They also helped to demystify some of you who I only know from social media, but now I see you beyond the profile pics. Being grateful with you made me feel like we were somehow connected. Thanks to all of you who participated.  And it’s not too late to add your celebrations/good news! See my post from March 28th or put them in the comment section under this blog entry.

Today (thanks you you), I feel like a Solutionary again. I’m making two Griff’s Wild Tips videos where I will explain how you can help wildlife from your home, work, and/or local area. One video will be about preventing bird strikes and the other will be about how to organize a fishing line clean up.  Both are coming to my YouTube Channel and blog soon (links to both in first comment box).