..........."We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."            .........................biologist & philosopher - Aldo Leopold

california coastal gnatcatcher.....

Calfornia Coastal GnatcatherThe California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californicas), is a Federally threatened and State listed species of special concern. Gnatcatchers have been observed on the Banning Ranch property. The California Gnatcatcher can be found in rather limited habitats along the southern California coast that are now being taken over by housing tracts and other developments. California Gnatcatchers live in coastal sage scrub,a low shrubby habitat that is also home to other specialized animals and plants. This is a habitat of low shrubs (mostly 3-6' tall), generally dominated by California sagebrush, buckwheat, salvia, and prickly-pear cactus.
Focused surveys for the Coastal California Gnatcatcher were conducted in spring–summer 2009; this species was observed nesting on the Project site. A total of 17 coastal California Gnatcatcher territories, consisting of 16 breeding pairs and 1 solitary male, were present on the Project site during the 2009 surveys. During previous focused surveys on the site, 15 pairs and 6 “single” individual Gnatcatchers were observed in 2006, and 12 pairs and 6 “unpaired” male Gnatcatchers were observed in 2007.
Gnatcatchers feed on a wide variety of small insects, including true bugs, beetles, caterpillars, scale insects, wasps, ants, flies, moths, small grasshoppers, and many others; also some spiders. They may also eat small berries at times.
Adults often remain together in pairs throughout the year on permanent territories. In California, the nesting season is from late February to mid-July. Brown-headed Cowbirds often lay eggs in nests of this bird, and the Gnatcatchers may wind up raising only young cowbirds. Nest sites are generally in dense low shrub, usually less than 4' above the ground. Nests (built by both sexes) are a compact cup of grass, bark strips, leaves, spiderwebs, plant down, and other items lined with fine plant fibers, feathers, and animal hair.