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In 2010, the Creative Work Fund awarded a grant to Matthew Passmore and Nathan of Lynch of Rebar to collaborate with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge on improving the nesting environment for seabirds on islands off the Northern California coast. The challenge the birds faced was that storms and wind were causing erosion on island beaches, where they had long built burrowing nests. Passmore, Lynch, and students at California College of the Arts developed environmentally friendly clay nest modules suited for Rhinoceros Auklets and, with scientists and Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge staff, installed them on Año Nuevo Island. Scientists anticipated that several years might pass before the birds adopted the modules, but they took to them right away.

The team’s work has continued and to date they have deployed clay modules on four California islands, providing safe homes for more than 100 seabird fledglings of four species. Featured here is a Cassin’s Auklet chick that successfully fledged from a new clay nest this year. This new nest design builds off of what was learned with the Rhinoceros Auklet nests supported by the Creative Work Fund.

The Oikonos team now is holding an Año Nuevo campaign to share island results with volunteers and raise much needed donations to continue this work.