Friday, October 23, 2009

Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary

The Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary is administered and maintained by the non-profit California State University, Fullerton, Foundation. The bird refuge serves as a labratory and center for ecological education for the university's science classes.

The place has an interesting history. It was the retirement home for Ben and Dorothy May Tucker, who loved the local wildlife and designed and made hummingbird feeders which they hung around their cabin. Their feeder design became the standard for modern hummingbird stations. The Tuckers willed their property to the California Audubon Society, which took over the care of the sanctuary and opened it to the public in 1939. During World War II, when sugar was rationed, the sanctuary had special permission to continue obtaining and using sugar in the hummingbird feeders. In 1968, the Audubon Society gave the property to Cal State Fullerton on the condition that it be maintained as a wildlife sanctuary for the benefit of the public and the animals.

The sanctuary runs alongside the canyon's natural creek which has water during the winter months. The grounds are in part landscaped with native plant species, including a scented garden and a cactus garden, and in part natural vegetation.

The Bird Porch is a verandah on an old house. Covered with wisteria and with flowering plants in the garden outside, it has a variety of different feeders strung along the edge and is a wonderful place to watch hummingbirds, finches, quail, scrub jays, titmouses and more. The feeders were in deep shade with intensely bright light beyond, so it was not a great place to photography, but the sheltering wisteria, bench seats and constant visitors made it a wonderful spot to relax in the cool.

There is a small natural history musuem with interesting displays and a limited range of drinks and snacks. Behind the musuem, a trail that leads up over the hill and down into another canyon through native vegetation. This area was burnt out earlier this year and signs warn of the danger of landslips and mud slides. The threat of rain last week has resulted in walls of hay bales running along the canyon walls, and cement barriers along the road.

I could hear quail chirping in the grass, but none strayed out onto the path. Hummingbirds buzzed around the last of the fall flowers. Titmouses (titmice?) collected a seed and perched with it between their feet and pecked to open the outer casing. Woodpeckers stored literally hundreds of acorns in the powerpoles.

Adding to the pleasure of the trip were the tree-lined winding roads and the eclectic and historical homes in Modjeska Canyon including that of Madame Modjeska.

Bird List

White-breasted Nuthatch (Pictured above)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Acorn Woodpecker
Anna’s Hummingbird
Mourning Dove
Hermit Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
California Towhee
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
Western Scrub-Jay
Oak Titmouse

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