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  • February 14, 2020

Collage of burrowing owl, sandhill cranes, black-crowned night heron, red wing and tricolored blackbirds, horned lark, American bittern, and northern harrier
CDFW Photos by Annie Chang, Tammy Dong, Rachel Powell

February 14-17, 2020 marks the 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count! Take 15 minutes out of your day to appreciate your avian neighbors this weekend, and report your count through link opens in new windoweBird. In 2019, link opens in new windowover 6,600 species of birds were counted worldwide and Californians submitted over 10,000 checklists, but you can help make those numbers even higher this year! As always, if you happen to spot one of the 157 bird species tracked by CNDDB, fill out an Online Field Survey Form. Happy birding!

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  • February 6, 2020

2020 is here, and we continue our monthly spotlight of talented photographers and their wonderful photos of rare plants and animals submitted through the Online Field Survey Form. Here are a couple of our favorites to start off the year with:

Closeup of Navarretia ojaiensis which has spiky leaf clusters and small white flowers

Navarretia ojaiensis – Ojai navarretia

Submitted by Ryan Myers, SWCA Environmental Consultants

This extremely rare, endemic plant was found by Ryan Myers in Ventura County. It is listed as a 1B.1 (rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere, seriously threatened in California) in the California Rare Plant Ranking system. Navarretia ojaiensis can be found in openings in chaparral and coastal scrub as well as valley and foothill grasslands. It blooms from May to July, bringing a little color to those summer hikes. A big thank you to Ryan for this amazing photo and all the hard work you do!

Top-down photo of northern red-legged frog on the forest floor that's covered in fallen leaves and pine needles

Rana aurora – northern red-legged frog

Submitted by Risa Okuyama, Mother Earth Engineering

Risa came across this camouflaged northern red-legged frog near Big Lagoon in Humboldt county. The northern red-legged frog inhabits the northwest portion of the state in Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties and is one of nine true frog species the database tracks. Their relatively long rear legs allow them to leap far distances making this their main mode of defense from escaping predators. They can be found in grasslands, woodlands, humid forests, and plant covered stream sides. Populations of Rana aurora face threats such as predation by the introduced American bullfrog and poor water quality. The northern red-legged frog was previously known as a subspecies of Rana aurora along with the California red-legged frog before being split into two separate species. Currently, CNDDB has 292 mapped occurrences of the northern red-legged frog all along the northern coast. Thank you, Risa, for catching a picture of this steadily posed amphibian!

Do you have some great photos of rare plants or wildlife detections? Submit them along with your findings through our Online Field Survey Form and see if your photos get showcased!

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  • February 3, 2020

Happy New Year, folks! 2019 whizzed by, but we stayed busy throughout. Here are some of our proud achievements from 2019, as well as what we’re striving toward in 2020.

Color map indicating number of occurrences added or updated by county2019 By the Numbers:

  • 97,000 total occurrences in CNDDB
    • 2,900 new occurrences mapped
    • 2,100 occurrences updated
  • 240,000 total source records in CNDDB
    • 12,700 sources added (7,800 records added through the Online Field Survey Form)
    • 9,300 sources processed
  • 182,000 total spotted owl records
    • 9,000 spotted owl records (5,000+ CSO and 4,000+ NSO) added
    • 1,200 spotted owl sites updated
    • 200 activity centers updated
  • 1,300 barred owl records added to the Barred Owl Observations Database
  • S-ranks for 2,400+ CNDDB-tracked non-vascular plants, bryophytes, and lichens have now been updated within the past 5 years
  • Provided 8 training classes for 96 students across the state
  • Continued expanding our CNDDB iNaturalist Project (link opens in new windowJoin us!)
    • 12,800 observations
    • 1,600 species
    • 1,500 people

Other Accomplishments:

  • Released the link opens in new windowSpotted Owl Observations Management Framework (PDF)
  • Modified the QuickView Tool to incorporate spotted owl data
  • Posted updated peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and golden eagle datasets to BIOS, in conjunction with the Wildlife Branch; the datasets are now available to Government CNDDB Subscribers
  • Launched a new user management system
    • Allows subscriber organizations to have control over their own accounts
    • Provides CNDDB an avenue to engage directly with our users
  • Collaborated with Calflora to update their Observer Pro plant observation app to include a new rare species observation form where you can fill out the detailed fields that CNDDB needs to make high quality occurrences
  • Reviewed habitat models for 600 at-risk plant species for inclusion in NatureServe’s link opens in new windowMap of Biodiversity Importance project
  • Celebrated CNDDB’s 40th birthday
  • Developed an internal Strategic Action Planning Framework to work on improvements to our program, processes, and products. Focus areas include:
    • Data processing/methodology
      • Developed and transitioned into a paperless workflow
      • Exploring options for developing an observation-based data management system
    • Technology/tools
    • External communication/coordination
    • Internal development
      • Staff training and continued education (lunch & learn)

Goals for 2020:

  • Continue and expand CNDDB News blog as an outreach tool
  • Utilize new user management system to improve outreach and provide additional feedback opportunities
  • Update our documentation and training materials
  • Continue planning and development of an observations data management system
  • Identify and evaluate mobile data submission options
  • Focus on updating S-ranks for CNDDB-tracked animals

And, of course, we will continue producing high-quality data for environmental planners and researchers to use in protecting California’s rarest natural resources. We can’t do it without your help, though, so please remember to submit your 2019 data. As always, you can contact us at any time with suggestions. Wishing everyone a wonderful 2020!

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  • January 28, 2020

Red diamond rattlesnake
Red diamond rattlesnake. Courtesy of LA Dawson (link opens in new windowCC BY-SA 2.5) link opens in new windowvia Wikimedia Commons

January 28 marks Rattlesnake Appreciation Day. This is a good time to appraise our instinctual fears and celebrate our rattlesnakes.

For many years rattlesnakes were considered dangerous vermin and killed indiscriminately. Today a more nuanced view is taking hold. Rattlesnakes have been part of the ecosystem for 10 million years and should be respected for being another of nature’s predators.

While over 3000 people die in auto accidents in California each year, the state averages less than one snakebite death annually. We should be more afraid of our cars than our snakes!

California is home to ten rattlesnake taxa. CNDDB tracks one of those, the red-diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) which is a state Species of Special Concern. The primary threats to this species are urbanization and fragmentation of habitat.

Crotalus ruber can be found in the far southwestern portion of California, with a range extending from Los Angeles County south throughout most of the Baja California Peninsula. While rodents make up most of its diet, the species is also known to take rabbits, skunks, lizards, and birds. Typical habitat includes rocky areas within chaparral or woodland below 3000 feet in elevation.

Fun fact: You may already know that rattlers can sense both the light and heat coming off their prey, but did you know their olfactory system provides them with a directional sense of smell?

Use today as an opportunity to spread a little rattlesnake appreciation. Maybe show a child an online video demonstrating the hunting prowess of a Crotalus. You’ll be sure to get that kid’s attention. Point out that rattlers fill a predatory niche similar to hawks and bobcats. Remember that people don’t work to protect what they don’t understand. Today’s children will become tomorrow’s leaders.

Of course, we would be remiss if we failed to mention that a rattlesnake bite may result in serious injury and should always be considered a medical emergency. Keep some distance, appreciate our rattlesnakes through your telephoto lens, and submit any detections of red-diamond rattlers through our Online Field Survey Form.

For more information on sharing the land with our rattlesnake neighbors visit the CDFW Keep Me Wild page.

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  • January 27, 2020

Screenshot of new CNDDB Subscription User Management web app.CNDDB and CDFW are implementing a new system for managing subscriber access to CNDDB-related data and tools, including RareFind 5, the CNDDB and Spotted Owl Data Viewer, CNDDB-related datasets in BIOS, and downloadable GIS files for both the CNDDB and Spotted Owl Observations Database. We will no longer be distributing the monthly cnddb_gov and cnddb_com login and password information to our subscribers. Instead, starting February 4, 2020, any user wishing to access CNDDB data and tools will be required to register for an individual CDFW account and be listed as an authorized user under a current CNDDB subscription.

We have developed a link opens in new windowcustom web application to allow subscription account-holders to independently maintain their authorized user lists. The process is straightforward: subscription administrators create a list of authorized users for their organization, and those users create individual login accounts. Once an individual account has been verified as an authorized user, that individual will be able to log in using their personal credentials as long as the subscription remains active.

This new system has many benefits for subscribers and CNDDB alike:

  • Provides a mechanism for subscribers to easily control who has access through their subscription
  • Allows subscribers to add, edit, or remove authorized users at any time
  • No monthly password updates to keep track of
  • Addresses IT security concerns associated with multiple users accessing secure data via the same login account
  • Facilitates a better understanding of our CNDDB subscription client base
  • Improves customer service by enabling CNDDB staff to communicate more effectively and directly with our users

More information can be found in the link opens in new windowSubscription User Management Instructions and FAQs (PDF), and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

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  • January 23, 2020

Calflora Observer Pro mobile app logo

link opens in new windowCalflora has developed a new rare plant data collection form that enables users to more easily fill out the detailed fields CNDDB staff need to generate high quality occurrence records. Supported with funding from the link opens in new windowGolden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and designed in collaboration with Parks Conservancy staff, CNDDB experts, and rare plant botanists from throughout California, this new form allows users to collect rare plant observation information in the field via the Calflora Observer Pro mobile application, available for link opens in new windowiOS and link opens in new windowAndroid devices.

To use the new Calflora form, you must have a registered Calflora account and join the link opens in new windowSpecialty Group when logged in to the Calflora webpage. You will see the new form when you refresh Observer Pro and when you enter data using the Specialty Group in Plant Observation Entry.

Calflora also has an option to obscure your rare plant observations. If you choose to obscure your observations, we recommend that you allow CNDDB to have access to your unobscured location information by indicating your preference in My Calflora / Preferences under Observation Sharing.

Keep in mind that observations entered into the Calflora database are not automatically submitted to the CNDDB. To ensure we receive your data, you can notify us of your Calflora upload or submit your data directly to CNDDB.

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  • January 21, 2020

Golden mantle squirrel on a rock

Today we celebrate rodents of the Sciuridae family which includes squirrels and chipmunks. With their bushy tail, small ears, and large eyes, it’s easy to see how these creatures with such cute features has captured the hearts of many humans throughout history.

The CNDDB tracks 10 members of the Sciuridae family:

Nelson's antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni)
San Bernardino golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis bernardinus)
San Bernardino flying squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis californicus)
Alpine chipmunk (Neotamias alpinus)
Kingston Mountain chipmunk (Neotamias panamintinus acrus)
Mount Pinos chipmunk (Neotamias speciosus callipeplus)
Lodgepole chipmunk (Neotamias speciosus speciosus)
Piute ground squirrel (Urocitellus mollis)
Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis)
Palm Springs round-tailed ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus chlorus)

If you happen to see any of them please let us know via our Online Field Survey Form.

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  • January 15, 2020

The quarterly update of the Barred Owl Observations Database is available in the BIOS Viewer for CNDDB subscribers. The barred owl database includes barred owl (Strix varia), Strix hybrid, and unknown Strix detections.

Many of the records represent incidental detections made during spotted owl surveys; therefore, this dataset may not accurately represent the current distribution of barred owls in California. Furthermore, this dataset is only available to CNDDB subscribers because it contains references to sensitive spotted owl locations. A public version will be available in the future.

For a copy of the geodatabase or for site-specific inquiries, contact the database manager at

Screenshot of BIOS mapping application displaying the barred owl dataset

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  • January 10, 2020

In December 2019, the Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP) updated the “map of vegetation maps” in BIOS that shows footprints of fine-scaled vegetation maps: Vegetation (MCV/NVCS) Mapping Projects – California [ds515]. This dataset can help you discover what vegetation types are in your area of interest. California’s Natural Communities are based in the National Vegetation Classification System (NVCS), which is a hierarchical system; and VegCAMP works together with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) to maintain California’s expression of the system. We publish a list of Natural Communities at the bottom two levels: alliance and association. We also work to rank these communities for rarity, using the same ranking concepts as are used for species in CNDDB. Our published Natural Community lists and other online information were also recently updated. For more information, please see VegCAMP's Natural Communities page (updated November 2019) and link opens in new windowCNPS' Online Manual of California Vegetation (updated October 2019).

Where does ds515 come in? If you are working in an area and want to know what vegetation types have been documented there, you can see if there is a mapping project overlapping or near your area of interest. If you click on one of the polygons of ds515 in BIOS, you will see who is responsible for the map, whether it is complete, and how old it is. There are links in ds515 to download the datasets and view the classification and mapping reports. The classification reports have keys that will help you determine vegetation types based on species cover. Since many of the maps are produced at the alliance level, which is coarser than the association level, it is important to know how to identify associations. This is particularly true for those interested in determining whether there are sensitive natural communities present, because there can be sensitive associations within alliances that are broadly distributed that are not considered sensitive. To see ds515, along with other published vegetation datasets, including a newly published, updated map of the Delta (ds2855) and part of the Modoc Plateau (ds2858), please see our BIOS bookmark.

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  • January 7, 2020

A special opportunity for our subscribers in the San Diego area: we are taking our CNDDB/BIOS training on the road and will be in San Diego on January 21st and 23rd. There are only a few spots available. Please contact Annie Chang if you are interested or have any questions.

If you are interested in taking the training course at a different time, we offer classes in Sacramento every other month. Please see our training website for more details about what the class covers, cost, and where it is located.

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