Plant of the Month, December 2018: Toyon

Heteromeles arbutifolia

Toyon is a common plant you'll see in our Children's Woodland and our Butterfly Loop.  It's a perennial shrub native to western California and the Sierra foothills.  It's a prominent member of the coastal sage scrub plant community.  It's known by the common names Christmas berry and California Holly because of the bright red berries it produces.  The city of Hollywood was named for this plant.

  • Very easy to grow; moderately drought-tolerant
  • Common plant in chaparral and is found alongside creeksides, bottoms of slopes, north facing slopes, and canyons
  • It's flower is white and can be seen flowering in the summer
  • If properly situated it can grow up to 30 ft.
  • The fruit is small, bright red and berry-like, produced in large quantities, maturing in the fall and persisting well into the winter. The flowers are visited by butterflies and other insects, and have a mild, hawthorn-like scent. The berries are consumed by birds, including mockingbirds, American robins, and cedar waxwings

Bird of the Month, December 2018: Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing
Bombycilla cedrorum

With thin, lisping cries, flocks of Cedar Waxwings descend on berry-laden trees and hedges, to flutter among the branches as they feast. These birds are sociable at all seasons, and it is rare to see just one waxwing. Occasionally a line of waxwings perched on a branch will pass a berry back and forth, from bill to bill, until one of them swallows it. This species has a more southerly range than the Bohemian Waxwing, and is a familiar visitor to most parts of this continent south of the Arctic.

Open woodlands, fruiting trees, orchards; in winter, widespread, including towns. Breeding habitat is influenced by availability of fruiting trees and shrubs, often most common in "edge" situations, as along forest edges, streamsides, overgrown fields, edges of swamps, suburban yards. In winter, may be in any wooded or semi-open area where berries are abundant.

Feeding Behavior
Except when nesting, almost always forages in flocks. May hover briefly while plucking berries or taking insects from foliage. Often flies out to catch insects in mid-air.

3-5, rarely 2-6. Pale gray to bluish gray, finely spotted with brown and black. Incubation is probably by female only, averaging about 12-13 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 14-18 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 14-18 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.

Mostly berries and insects. Majority of annual diet is berries and small fruits; feeds on very wide variety of berries, with some important sources including juniper, dogwood, and wild cherries. Also eats some flowers and will drink oozing sap. Eats many insects in summer, including beetles, caterpillars, ants. Young nestlings are fed mostly insects at first, then more berries after a few days.

In many areas, nesting is late, not beginning until mid-summer. Only a small area is defended as territory, so birds may nest near others in small colonies. In courtship, two birds may perch close together, posturing, touching bills, and passing food items back and forth. Nest: Placed in tree, on horizontal limb or in fork, usually 6-20' above the ground but can be lower or much higher (up to 50'). Nest (built by both sexes) is a rather loosely built open cup of grass, weeds, twigs, plant fibers, lined with finer materials such as moss, rootlets, fine grass, hair.

Community Honoring at the Audubon Center at Debs Park

On December 1st, the Audubon Center at Debs Park was honored to host a Community Honoring event.  This event was put together by Tongva Elder and community activist, Gloria Arellanes.  Ms. Arellanes has long been known for her focus on local community issues and Chicana feminism.  She created this community honoring and selects the honorees based on their community service and stewarship.  The honorees chosen this year all do work to empower youth and benefit the communities they live in. This is the second year that the Audubon Center at Debs Park has been chosen to host this event which presents work that community members feel deserve acknowledgement.  This Community Honoring celebrated notable individuals who have performed work that positively impacted the communities they live in.  

This event recognized 6 honorees who have worked within their communities for positive change.  Marcos and Minnie Aguilar, co-directors of Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory; Michelle Castillo; Anna Christensen, Co Founder and Board Member of the Protect the Long Beach/Los Cerritos Wetlands; Irene Montantes, Mother to two sons, Community Organizer and News Reporter; RobertJohn Knapp, respected community member and Elder; and our very own Center Director, Marcos Trinidad.  Each honoree was introduced by a loved one.  It was touching to see the honorees commitment to their communities through the eyes of those closest to them.  Honorees were given the podium to speak on the importance of community and issues that are important to them.  They honorees were presented with a gift basket made up of items donated by community members.

After the honoring, attendees were invited to participate in a potluck lunch.  Atteendees and honorees were able to connect and discuss projects they've been working on.  After the delicious potluck lunch, attendees were treated to performances by MorningStar Foundation Hummingbird Women's Drum, singer Kelly Caballero, and a dance by Anahuacalmecac Student Dance Group.  It was exciting to see indigenous performers of all ages coming together to honor these 6 local community members and activists.  The Audubon Center at Debs Park is honored to be invited to host this event for the second year in a row.  "I think the energy and value that an event like this brings to the Center is really special.  Often, we continue to work and build and provide as many opportunities to the community as possible.  It's important that we pause sometimes and open up the Center to our community so they can hold an event like this and honor the important drivers of this work," said center director, Marcos Trinidad.

Debs Park hosts its 2nd annual Arroyo Seco Marketplace

On November 24th, the Audubon Center at Debs Park held its 2nd annual Arroyo Seco Marketplace, celebrating local artists and vendors on Small Business Saturday.  The event was marketted as a family holiday fair and market for local community members to enjoy the great small businesses Los Angeles has to offer.  The Audubon Center at Debs Park partnered with several organizations to put on the Arroyo Seco Marketplace including Self-Help Graphics, National Parks Service, Ponderosa Cactus, Patagonia, and 2 neighborhood councils to create a fun, activity-packed day.  The Arroyo Seco Marketplace hosted a total of 16 vendors and artists selling wares such as jewelry, tea, art prints, water drums, and cacti.  Around 350 community members attended and experienced the free family activities offered at the Marketplace including holiday card printing with Self-Help Graphics, succulent potting and holiday wreath-making with Audubon staff, and nature arts & crafts and native plant walks with NPS and Nature School LA.

During the Marketplace, we were also happy to present 2 fun, interactive performances.  These performances were a backed house! Our first performance was a live bird show by The Nature of Wild Works, featuring a red-shouldered hawk, a barn owl, and Harry the turkey vulture.  "It was so cool to see so many kids in one room just to see birds!," said Estefania Palacio, Communications & Development Associate at the Audubon Center at Debs Park.  Nature of Wild Works presenters were happy to educate community members on bird species, including information on how the hunted and ate.  They also took questions from the audience.  The second performance by Aztec Stories was another immersive experience.  In Aztec Stories, Michael Heralda told indigenous stories to the audience through music.  Mr. Heralda crafts his own traditional instruments from items he sources from nature.  His show invites audience members of all ages to participate through singing, chanting, and accompanying instruments.  Aztec Stories was a popular performance.  The music Mr. Heralda and his audience created added a beautiful backdrop to the Marketplace festivities.

The Audubon Center at Debs Park was so excited to host this event for the second year!  It's always great to support our community members and celebrate the talent in this community.  When asked what his favorite thing about the Arroyo Seco Marketplace was, Center Director Marcos Trinidad said "I like how this event is able to create a healthy balance in supporting the community and the local economy.  It's great to see how we are continuing our old traditions, such as native plant wreath-making while building some new traditions with our partners - such as holiday cards with Self Help Graphics or succulent potting with Ponderosa Cactus".

We hope you'll join us next year for the Arroyo Seco Marketplace.  Be part of creating our newest holiday tradition!  Do you have any great stories or pictures from this years Arroyo Seco Marketplace?  Send them to us!  Email  

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Now Hiring Volunteer & Engagement Coordinator!

We are currently looking for a Volunteer & Engagement Coordinator with the following qualifications:


Coordinate volunteer resources to assist in the delivery of the Center's programs, events and services. This includes directly managing volunteers, and/or providing guidance, support, resources and tools to staff who supervise volunteers.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement goals and objectives for the new volunteer program which reflect the mission of the Audubon Center
  • Assess the need for volunteers to enhance program/service delivery
  • Conduct ongoing evaluation of the programs and services delivered by volunteers and implement improvements as necessary
  • Organize the volunteer program/service
  • Develop, administer, and review policies and procedures which guide the volunteer programs and services, and reflect the overall values of the organization
  • Develop and administer forms and records to document the volunteer activities
  • Identify volunteer assignments that provide meaningful work for volunteers and write the volunteer position descriptions, develop trainings in consultation with staff as appropriate

Engage Volunteers

  • Promote the volunteer program to gain community support of the volunteer program and the Audubon Center
  • Develop and implement effective strategies to recruit the right volunteers with the right skills
  • Develop and implement an intake and interview protocol for potential volunteers to ensure the best match between the skills, qualification, and interests of the volunteers and the needs of the Center
  • Implement a screening process for potential volunteers according to accepted screening standards and practices
  • Train staff to work effectively and cooperatively with volunteers
  • Orient volunteers to increase their understanding of the organization, its guests, its services and the role and responsibilities of volunteers
  • Ensure that volunteers are given appropriate training to be successful in their positions
  • Ensure that volunteer check-in procedures are followed and records of volunteer hours are maintained according to established procedures
  • Ensure that volunteers receive the appropriate level of supervision
  • Assist with conflict resolution among clients, staff and volunteers according to established procedures
  • Establish and implement a process for evaluating the contribution of individual volunteers
  • Plan and implement formal and informal volunteer recognition activities to recognize the contribution of volunteers to the organization
  • Evaluate the risks associated with each volunteer position and take appropriate action to control the risks associated with the program or service
  • Ensure that volunteers work in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment in accordance with all appropriate legislation and regulations
  • Evaluate the contribution of each volunteer on an annual basis
  • Prepare an annual report on the contribution of the volunteer program to the organization
  • Administer and monitor expenditures for the volunteer program against the approved budget


  • College certificate in Volunteer Management is an asset
  • Post secondary education in social sciences, human resources, community development, or adult education is an asset

Think you have what it takes? Check out the application here or call us at (323) 221-2255!

Plant of the Month, October 2018: California Coffeeberry

California Coffeeberry
Frangula californica

California Coffeeberry is a plant we grow in our Los Nogales Native Plant Nursery. The plant is prized more for its fruit, a berry 10-15 millimeters in diameter, which turn red, then purple and finally black over the summer. It is valued by birds. This plant is beautiful and easy to grow. It tolerates a wide variety of soil types, and likes either full sun or part shade. It is moderately garden tolerant, and is OK with light summer water up to 2x per month. Coffeeberry has a dense form and is easy to prune. It makes a great and fire resistant hedge.

  • Very easy to grow, moderately drought tolerant
  • Height: 6-15 ft 
  • Flowering season: Spring, Summer
  • Berries prized by birds.  Berries are 10-15 millimeters in diameter, turn red, then purple, then black over the summer
  • Makes a great and fire resistant hedge

Bird of the Month, October 2018: California Thrasher

California Thrasher
Toxostoma redivivum

Several kinds of dull gray-brown thrashers occur in the West, but this is the only one along the California coast. The bird's normal range is limited to California and a corner of Baja, but within that range it is quite common in the chaparral, even coming into brushy suburbs. It spends most of its time on the ground, walking and running with its tail often held high, stopping to dig in the dirt with its sickle-shaped bill.

Feeding Behavior
Forages mostly on the ground, using its heavy curved bill to flip leaf-litter aside and to dig in the soil.

3-4, sometimes 2. Pale blue, evenly spotted with pale brown. Incubation is by both parents, about 14 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest after about 12-14 days, are unable to fly well for several more days. Male may care for young from 1st brood while female begins laying 2nd clutch. 2 broods per year, perhaps sometimes 3.

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest after about 12-14 days, are unable to fly well for several more days. Male may care for young from 1st brood while female begins laying 2nd clutch. 2 broods per year, perhaps sometimes 3.

Mostly insects and berries. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including ants, wasps, bees, beetles, caterpillars, moths, and many others. Also eats some spiders and centipedes. Berries and small fruits are important in diet, and eats seeds, acorns, and other plant material. Will come to bird feeders for miscellaneous scraps.

Pairs may remain together on territory all year. Male sings to defend nesting territory, usually from top of shrub or tree; song often includes imitations of other birds. Nest: Placed in a dense shrub or extensive thickets, less than 10' above the ground, usually 2-4' up. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky open cup of sticks and twigs, lined with fine grass, weeds, rootlets, strips of bark, and other soft items.

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