Guardians Lost to Pesticides

The Tragic Tale of Sweet Spring Nature Preserve’s Owl

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In the heart of Sweet Spring Nature Preserve, where the beauty of California’s wilderness harmonizes with the rhythm of the urban world, there unfolds a poignant story of resilience, loss, and hope—a story of a male Great Horned Owl named Orion and his tenacious owlet.

Orion, with his majestic plumage and watchful eyes, was the undisputed sovereign of Sweet Spring’s moonlit nights. His deep hoots resonated through the tranquil preserve, a soothing lullaby to all who ventured into his domain. Orion embodied the untamed spirit thriving within the heart of the urban landscape.

Yet, in the ill-fated year of 2020, tragedy darkened Orion’s skies. Unbeknownst to him, a local neighborhood had become a battleground against an army of rats. Desperate residents resorted to baiting rats around their houses, unwittingly introducing rat poison into Orion’s realm. As Orion pursued his nightly hunt, he fell victim to this insidious threat, ingesting the toxic substance as he captured his prey.

As days turned to weeks, Orion’s once-proud wings grew heavy, and his hooting calls weakened. His feathers lost their luster, and the life force that had once coursed through his regal form began to wane. Sweet Spring mourned the loss of its nocturnal sentinel, and the preserve’s night was forever changed.

Yet, amidst the heartache, a tale of hope emerged—an owlet, miraculously surviving the same perils that had claimed Orion’s life. Fragile and vulnerable, the owlet clung to the thread of life, a testament to the enduring resilience of nature even in the face of human-induced adversity. This owlet, a symbol of tenacity and rebirth, embodied the enduring spirit of Sweet Spring.

Today, whispers carry news of another Great Horned Owl sighting, a potential heir to Orion’s legacy. This newcomer, like Orion before, faces the looming danger of rat poisoning.

All who hold Sweet Spring close to their hearts, have the power to make a difference. Support AB 1322, a crucial piece of legislation that seeks to restrict the use of dangerous rodenticides, the very substances that silenced Orion’s hoots and continues to endanger his kin.

Write to your local California Senator and let your words become a beacon of change. Share Orion’s story, the tale of the owlet’s miraculous survival, and the fragile hope carried by the new Great Horned Owl sighting. Explain the urgency of adopting regulations that prioritize the safety of our urban wildlife and the preservation of natural sanctuaries like Sweet Spring.

Urge your Senator to be a champion for AB 1322, a measure that not only safeguards Orion’s memory but ensures that his descendants can soar through the moonlit skies of Sweet Spring for generations to come.

Together, we can transform the heartache of loss into a powerful force for change—a force that protects the guardians of our night, preserves the beauty of our urban wilderness, and honors their legacy by ensuring that the skies of Sweet Spring remain illuminated by the majesty of Great Horned Owls. Act before September 14th, and be the voice that echoes in the night, the voice that stands up for our precious wildlife. Be the voice they don’t have.

Sweet Springs Nature Preserve is a beautiful coastal conservation area located in Los Osos, California. It’s known for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Morro Bay. This nature preserve offers a peaceful escape with walking trails that wind through native plant habitats and wetlands. If you enjoy hiking and nature, I’d highly recommend visiting Sweet Springs for a serene outdoor experience. It’s an excellent place for birdwatching and photography. It’s a true gem for nature enthusiasts. Sweet Spring Nature Reserve is owned and managed by the Morro Coast Audubon Society since 1989. If you’d like to volunteer with the Morro Coast Audubon Society follow this link.

I was informed about this bill from Judy Neuhauser, an inspiring leader in activism and the President of the Morro Coast Audubon Society. Spreading the message for activism and taking action makes a significant difference.

AB 1322 now moves to a vote on the Senate floor—and our wildlife need your help!


Please call or email your state senator as soon as you can and ask them to support AB 1322 – the legislative session ends on September 14! 

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*All Photos taken of animals in their natural habitat undisturbed.