Responses of birds to large-scale wildfires in western Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Philip Unitt, Curator of Birds and Mammals, San Diego Natural History Museum will present a program entitled Responses of Birds to Large -Scale Wildfires in Western Anza-Borrego Desert State Park April 22-23. The program is underwritten by The Pratt Memorial Fund at Union Bank of California.

In his presentation, Unitt, who examined responses of 100 species of birds to the Pines, Coyote and Cedar wildfires of 2002-2003 in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and surrounding habitat, will conduct a field tour that includes a 4-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. The hike begins at the Lucky 5 trailhead and will include an exploration of the area burned in the Pines fire, if time allows.

According to a press release issued by the park, Unitt identified responses and trends in the species studied “which apply both to historic fire recovery and may speak to impacts to species distribution from projected climate change models.”

The area being explored was dense chaparral before the Pines fire of 2002, then was burned to black ground, the press release reports. “Now that the area is in some degree of recovery, Unitt will discuss the trajectory taken by the birds after the fire and compare what you see today with what was recorded during field work for the bird atlas about 15 years ago.”

The hike level is easy to moderate but if additional trail loops are included, some steeper terrain with a moderate rating will be traversed. Some hiking will be on a narrow trail hugging a steep slope in places so participants will need to be in single file most of the time. Participants should wear sturdy shoes.

The field class is limited to 12 participants so interested parties should sign up early. To sign up for the field tour or for more information, visit

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