Become a Lake Merritt Docent

Introduce Oakland residents to the birds of Lake Merritt! We’re currently seeking volunteers to serve as Lake Merritt docents from November through February, when the lake has its more abundant bird life.  A training session will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, October 19 at 7 p.m.

Lake Merritt docentsLake Merritt docents

What’s involved? Together with another volunteer, you’ll spend two hours on some Saturday mornings (10 a.m. to noon) along the lake with a spotting scope and brochures about the ducks and other birds of Lake Merritt. You’ll chat with passersby who are interested, help them spot birds in the scope, and tell them a little bit about these birds and what they’re doing here on the lake.

Choose which Saturdays between November and February work for your schedule. We’re aiming to have docents present on about two Saturdays each month. You do NOT need to be an expert birder, just someone who is enthusiastic about birds and willing to share your interest! We’ll provide you with information about the lake and its bird life during the training.

If you’re interested or have questions, please contact our Adult Education Chair Maureen Lahiff at

Did you know… Lake Merritt was the first officially-designated wildlife refuge in the U.S.? In 1870, at the request of local residents including Oakland’s mayor, the State of California created the Lake Merritt Wild Duck Refuge and prohibited waterfowl hunting there. 

Volunteer with Eco-Education

Introduce young people to the wonder of birds and nature as a volunteer with our Eco-Education program!

We’re holding a training session on Wednesday, August 25 in preparation for the 2021-22 school year. Under the leadership of our Youth Education Manager Clay Anderson, accompany elementary school classes on field trips in San Francisco, Oakland, or Richmond.

Eco-Ed volunteer and studentsEco-Ed volunteer and students from 2019, before the Covid pandemic. Photo by Katherine briccetti.

This is a great volunteer opportunity if you need a flexible schedule because of travel or work. What’s needed: Commit to accompany at least one field trip each month between October-December and March-May. Choose days and locations that work for your schedule; trips last from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You do NOT need to be an expert birder. You DO need a love of nature, a willingness to get down in the dirt helping kids plant native plants, and an ability to talk with them on a very basic level about pollution in our natural environment.

For details, email Clay at If you’re unable to attend the training on August 25, we can arrange for you to get trained by shadowing an experienced volunteer on a field trip during the year.

Marissa Ortega-Welch with Eco-Ed students / Photo by Pipi Ray Diamond Eco-Ed students at Point Pinole / Photo by Eva Guralnick…

Job Opportunities

Help us make the Bay Area a better place for birds and people! Golden Gate Audubon Society is currently hiring for two positions: Special Assistant for Communications, and Membership Coordinator.

You do NOT need to be an experienced birder for either of these jobs. But they are great opportunities to learn about birds and Bay Area conservation issues and to become part of a friendly community of people who love birds and are working hard to protect our shared Bay Area environment. Both positions are based in our Berkeley office.

Click here for the job description for Special Assistant for Communications.

Click here for the job description for Membership Coordinator.

Founded in 1917, Golden Gate Audubon engages people to experience the wonder of birds and to translate that wonder into actions that protect native bird populations and their habitats.

Golden Gate Audubon is an equal opportunity employer. People of color, women, people of all sexual orientations, and those with diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Our staff and board value diversity and are committed to respect and inclusiveness.

To apply, send a resume and cover letter to

Birdathon 2021: A Soaring Success

If Birdathon 2021 were a film, we’d say “it’s a wrap!”

Instead we’ll say, “it’s a rap-tor!”

Golden Gate Audubon Society’s annual fundraiser came to a high-flying conclusion over the weekend, capping two months of innovative new events designed to carry on despite Covid.

Unable to hold our usual in-person Birdathon programs, our creative volunteers came up with three alternatives: a series of ten Virtual Field Trips via Zoom, a socially distanced Christmas-in-May Bird Count, and an online Birdathon Adventure Auction. They culminated with a Birdathon Virtual Celebration on Sunday night.

These new events were highly successful in all respects—number of participants, quality of the experiences, and funds raised. Here’s a flyover raptor’s-eye view of them all.

White-tailed Kite during the Oakland Christmas-in-May Bird Count, by Mark RauzonWhite-tailed Kite during the Oakland Christmas-in-May Bird Count, by Mark Rauzon

Virtual Field Trips

We sponsored ten Zoom “trips” that ranged from viewing Sage-Grouse in Lassen County to a pelagic journey to the Farallones. Over 400 people signed up and attended an average of two trips each. We raised $13,200, or more than $1,000 per trip.

Bonus: Video recordings of all the Virtual Field Trips are available, so you can watch any that you missed! View descriptions of the trips here. Then call our office at (510) 843-2222 to provide credit card payment of $15 per trip and get the link to the recording. The best time to call is on Mondays through Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Christmas-in-May Bird Count

Over 140 people signed up for counts in Oakland and San Francisco that coincided with eBird’s Global Big Day on Saturday, May 8th. We managed to cover most of our regular Christmas Bird Count areas, and enjoyed sightings of breeding birds as well as balmy temperatures that aren’t available in December. Oakland count participants got to try out some new features—paperless reporting, using only eBird, plus new digital maps—that will prove useful in future Christmas Bird Counts.

Bird counting at Oakland ZooChristmas-in-May Count at the Oakland Zoo / Photo courtesy of Mark Rauzon Barn Owl during Christmas-in-May Bird Count by David Assmann

Registration fees generated a total of $3,260; one generous member covered fees for people who found them a challenge. Special thanks to count compilers Dawn Lemoine and Viviana Wolinsky (Oakland) and David Assmann and Siobhan Ruck (San Francisco) for creating this successful new event from scratch.

Birdathon Adventure Auction

The online auction, which closed Sunday night, brought in more than $15,000 for Golden Gate Audubon’s conservation and education programs!…

Osprey chicks are here!

Rosie and Richmond, the pair of Ospreys featured in our live nest cam along the Richmond shoreline, hatched two chicks over the May 1st weekend and the third is likely to hatch any day now.

Watch the nest live, via our two hi-def video cameras, at Or view daily highlights on our SF Bay Ospreys Facebook page or YouTube channel. Or if you just want a quick (adorable!) peek, click here for a video of the first chick shortly after hatching.

First chickFirst chick, at about 12 hours old.


“The emergence of these chicks inspires hope on so many levels,” said Glenn Phillips, Executive Director of Golden Gate Audubon. “It was just a couple of decades ago that Osprey numbers were dwindling because of the pesticide DDT. Now, thanks to environmental protections, Ospreys are raising families along the Bay shoreline. Nature can be so resilient—but it’s up to us to give it a chance.”

The number of Osprey nests alongside San Francisco Bay is growing. While Ospreys weren’t known to nest alongside the Bay before the early 2000s, by 2016 volunteers documented 37 active nests that produced 51 fledglings. Last year, they found 51 active nests with 99 fledglings.

Golden Gate Audubon launched its live video stream in 2017, bringing over 70,000 viewers to a nest 75 feet above the ground on a decommissioned World War 2 maritime crane in Richmond, next to the Red Oak Victory Museum ship and near the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Each year since then, the adult Osprey pair have returned to raise chicks together.

Rosie and pipping eggRosie tends nest while first egg starts to hatch Rose and Richmond on the nestRosie and Richmond on the nest Hatch graphicGraphic by nest cam volunteer Craig Griffeath showing expected hatch date of third egg, based omn observations of the past four years

This year the pair has taken turns sitting on the nest since March 24, when the first egg was laid. Once the chicks have hatched, Rosie will spend nearly all her time at the nest and Richmond will bring fish to feed her and the young.

Ospreys are fierce fish eaters with adult wing spans of up to six feet. Newly hatched chicks weigh less than two ounces and have a wingspan of about three inches.

Over the past four years, nest cam followers created descriptive (though not scientific) names for the life stages of Osprey chicks—starting out as “bobbleheads,” then “dinosaur phase,” “feathers growing in,” “wingercizing,” “hovering above the nest,” and finally, fledging. …