By Margaret Magnus
During their annual migration, more than 300 species of birds are estimated to use the Pacific Flyway as their connection between the Arctic and South America, according to NASA Science. The flyway stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and includes all of California.
Every year, millions of migratory birds head south, then north, using the 4,000-mile-long and, in places, the 1,000-mile-wide route known in search of places to breed, feed, and spend the winter.
THE FOUR BIRD FLYWAYS established by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are based largely on routes the birds follow as they migrate between nesting and wintering areas. The purpose is to facilitate management of migratory birds and their habitats (Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and its partners have identified four administrative Flyways (Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific) based largely on routes the birds follow as they migrate between nesting and wintering areas. The purpose is to facilitate management of migratory birds and their habitats.
“Some scientists believe migratory birds take they navigational cues from the sun, moon and stars. Others think they simply follow geographic landmarks like rivers and mountains,” writes Matt Dolkas for the Peninsula Open Space Trust. Regardless, these migratory birds consistently follow the same flight paths.
THE PACIFIC FLYWAY is about 4,000 miles long and 1,000 miles wide in places and i use by more than 300 species of birds. (Source: Perky-Pet®)
Not all of the migrating birds travel the entire Flyway. Most travel the leg of the journey that brings them into warmer temperatures that are closer to the equator.
When do birds migrate? In North America, the birds that migrate do so in the late summer though the fall and in the late winter through the spring. Migrations generally follow a north-south pathway, although a few bird species — namely oceanic birds — may migrate in a circular pattern.
Because it’s hard to provide exact dates when birds migrate, Perky-Pet® has developed a Bird Migration Timeline for fall and spring migrations.
According to Perky-Pet® some of the migrating birds in the Pacific Flyway include: American Crow, American Goldfinch, American Robin, American Tree Sparrow, Anna’s Hummingbird, Band-tailed Pigeon, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Bohemian Waxwing, Brewer’s Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Cassin’s Finch, Cedar Waxwing, Chipping Sparrow, Common Redpoll, Dark-eyed Junco, Evening Grosbeak, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, Hoary Redpoll, Lesser Goldfinch, Northern Flicker, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-winged Blackbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Rufous Hummingbird, Song Sparrow, Varied Thrush, Western Meadowlark, White-crowned Sparrow, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Adele Fergusson from the Ventura Audubon Society had a recent bird-watching scouting trip to Meher Mount meeting with Robert Turnage and Kristina Somma. She reported the following in the March 2019 issue of "The California Condor": 
"We had a great morning birding and looking at the views. Because it was a clear day, we were able to see 5 islands, Santa Barbara, San Nicholas, Anacapa, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa. There were many juncos, spotted towhees and other sparrows, oak titmouse, hawks and the highlight of the day was the white-throated swift."
The Ojai Valley, including Meher Mount is a bird enthusiast's delight. Pause a moment, and even the casual bird watcher can view the different species that find Meher Mount a welcome home or a good place to visit during migration on the Pacific Flyway.
 “Bidding for the Benefits of Birds,” NASA Science: Share the Science, accessed online March 20, 2019.
 Erin Blakemore, “The amazing story of the Great Pacific Flyway and its migrating birds,” The Washington Post, November 5, 2017, accessed online March 20, 2019.
 “Flyways,” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Program, accessed online March 20, 2019.
 Matt Dolkas, Content Marketing Manager, “What You Should Know About the Pacific Flyway,” December 11, 2017, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Palo Alto, CA, accessed online March 20, 2019.
 “When Do Birds Migrate?” Perky-Pet®, Woodstream Corporation, accessed online March 20, 2019. Article also gives guidelines on the the timing of bird migrations in North America.
 “Bird Migration: Birds of the Pacific Flyway,” Perky-Pet®, Woodstream Corporation, accessed online March 20, 2019. Article also gives tips on managing backyard bird feeders for various types of birds.
 “Notes from the Field…Adele Fergusson Meher Mount,” The California Condor, March 2019, Ventura Audubon Society, accessed online March 20, 2019.
“I am never born, I never die. Yet, every moment, I take birth and undergo death. The countless illusory births and deaths are necessary landmarks in the progression of man's consciousness to Truth — a prelude to the Real Death and Real Birth. Real Death is when one dies to self, and Real Birth is, when dying to self, one is born in God, to live forever His eternal life consciously.
Although I am present everywhere eternally, in my formless, infinite state, from time to time I take form, and the taking of the form and leaving it is termed my physical birth and death. In this sense, I was born 60 years ago and I will die when my Universal work is finished.”
Your celebrating my 60th birthday today with all your love, enthusiasm and zeal has deeply touched me and makes me give you my blessings for the ultimate understanding that we all are one, that God alone is real and that all else is false.” - Avatar Meher Baba
The measures taken over the past year to protect and nourish Baba’s Tree seem to have contributed to its survival and new growth so far.
Baba’s Tree continues to show signs that point to survival and at the same time, caution. Most of the sprouts that have come out since the fire, on the shattered trunk and two of the largest limbs, are still green and look healthy.
There has been some significant die-back of sprouts along two other large limbs. Inaba counsels cautious optimism, suggesting that another summer will tell much more about the longer term probabilities. Fire recovery is not over and continues for Baba’s Tree at least for another year or two.
The forecast was for rain. Still, the volunteers came. It was the day of The Great Dhuni Stick Harvest. Saturday, January 12, 2019, turned out to be a glorious day with a very special dhuni at Meher Mount.
The rain stopped, and the sun came out around 10:30 a.m. The cloud-filled skies were deep blue, and the views were picture-perfect. It was time to harvest dhuni-sized sticks from the fallen branches of Baba’s Tree.
It was only fitting that after the dhuni sticks were harvested, there should be a dhuni at Meher Mount.
This Christmas greeting from Avatar Meher Baba was a sent to Elizabeth Patterson and Kitty Davy (Meher Baba's close Western disciples) at the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC, on December 10, 1958.
"Gratitude is a most lovable way of acknowledging My unconditional compassion. And it strengthens your relationship with Me. I have no expectation of it, for My own sake, but it is for your personal good.
"In a sense, gratitude is the art of accepting life, moment by moment, in whatever situation one finds oneself, as being My Will. You offer everything to Me, and receive everything from Me."
Just days before the December 4, 2017 Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount, well-known Meher Baba artist Charles Mills approached Meher Mount about doing a painting that would represent Meher Baba’s 1956 visit to Meher Mount.
“I didn’t know if a painting was needed,” Mills said later, “I just made myself available.”
In discussions with Board President Sam Ervin, they talked about a painting that would represent the energy of Meher Baba’s visit as captured in the 55-minute film Meher Baba, The Awakener made in 1994 by Tim Thelan. The footage of Meher Baba at Meher Mount starts at 43:22 minutes.
On December 4, 2017, the wildfire known as the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount. Initially, the Visitor Center/Caretaker Quarters seemed to have the least amount of damage. In the end, the majority of the expenses, time, and effort has been expended on the Visitor Center.
In hindsight, there was a “perfect storm” of events that led to the unintended – but needed – upgrade, repair and refurbishment of the building that doubles as a Visitor Center and Caretaker Quarters.
One day while working at Meher Mount during recovery and renewal from the 2017 Thomas Fire, I noticed that the window and door frames needed to be repainted and spruced up. Then I looked more closely. Some of the wooden frames and door sills needed actual replacement.
Then taking a walk through the building, it was clear that many of the 25-year-old wooden-frame doors and windows were damaged due to time, use and weather. Sam Ervin pointed out – particularly without any furniture “hiding” parts of the building – that there were gaps between and under the doors.
The gaps invited dust, rodents, snakes and other critters inside. One night in the kitchen, former Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky found a baby rattlesnake that had crawled in under the door.
One day while working at Meher Mount, I heard Sam Ervin call to me, “Margaret, come look at this.”
Feeling it wasn’t something I wanted to see, I said, “No.”
Sam replied, “Yes, you have to come look at this.”
Again, I said, “No.”
He insisted, “Come look at this it.”
After six months of repairs, clean-up, and small fix-it jobs turning into big fix-it jobs following the 2017 Thomas Fire, I just didn’t want to discover one item that needed attention. But, I knew I couldn’t escape. I went to take a look.
Meher Mount continually welcomes many first-time visitors who know nothing of Avatar Meher Baba and not very much about Meher Mount. They often ask: “What is this place?” and “Who is Meher Baba?”
Followers of Meher Baba often are curious about the history of Meher Mount and how it came to be. Some ask for more details about Meher Baba’s 1956 visit.
All of these questions are part of the Meher Mount story — Avatar Meher Baba, His 1956 visit to Meher Mount, Agnes Baron and the founding of Meher Mount, and the purpose and role of Meher Mount.
In planning discussions, the board has identified the need to tell the Meher Mount story for visitors. But, where to start? How to best use the limited wall space? How to naturally guide visitors through the information?
A recent article — “What’s a QCD? (And Why It’s Timely)” — in The Wall Street Journal suggests that older adults who are withdrawing money from their IRA and who want to make charitable donations, consider a “qualified charitable distribution.”
A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) is a withdrawal from an individual retirement account (IRA) that is sent directly to a charity. “In other words,” says the Journal, “the funds don’t pass through your hands. You instruct your IRA custodian to send the money straight to the [charitable] group or groups you specify.”
How might this save you money?
When Meher Mount’s fiscal year started on July 1, 2017, the year-long goal was to update the Master Plan. There was a community meeting in July along with an online survey to solicit comments for the next version of the plan.
Then, on December 4, 2017, the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount. It seemed initially that master planning would be set aside to focus on fire recovery. On the contrary.
The discussions from the previous months, which supplemented the existing Master Plan, served as guiding principles for fire recovery and renewal.
It was as if the recent planning process had been particularly designed to guide recovery projects. Specific actions outlined in the plan became part of the recovery and renewal effort.
My mind is like still water as I sit on the veranda of the Visitor Center. Next to me is a friend who has been helping me take care of Meher Mount for several weeks. It is evening, the sun is about to set, and even the busy hummingbirds are settling in to partake of the peace of this special place.
“This is all Meher Baba,” my companion remarks with deep emotion in his voice as he spreads his arms to indicate the whole of Meher Mount.
Baba’s Fireplace was part of the living room of the guesthouse at Meher Mount where Avatar Meher Baba met with His followers and gave darshan (blessing) on August 2, 1956.
Now, as Baba’s Tree’s remains in seclusion for several years while it recovers, Baba’s Fireplace and courtyard area are a more integral part of the visitor experience.
As a result, there is a greater sense of urgency to finalize and implement the plans to preserve Baba’s Fireplace and enhance the courtyard area.
If the Thomas Fire has taught me anything, it has taught me that one just never knows when something will “catch fire” at Meher Mount. Priorities are constantly shifting and even as the list of projects to be done continues to spark more lists of projects to be done, it is always Meher Baba who finds a way to ignite one’s passion at just the right moment.
What seems to be catching fire for visitors, volunteers, and caretakers alike these days is the remnant of a sandstone walkway that begins at the northeast edge of the circular driveway and extends for about 10 feet or so toward the side of the Visitor Center/Caretaker Quarters. Avatar Meher Baba walked on these exact same flagstones.
When the Ojai Raptor Center sent out an email after the December 2017 Thomas Fire encouraging landowners to install perches and box homes to support the raptor population in the area, Meher Mount responded.
The center said the fire had destroyed raptor (eagle, hawk, falcon, owl) habitat in the area, and putting up boxes and perches was one way to help the recovery of these birds.
Meher Mount was also motivated to install the boxes to create a natural form of rodent control. A simple walk to Baba’s Tree and Avatar’s Point demonstrates the abundance of small rodents (such as gophers, voles, and mice) at Meher Mount. The ground is pock-marked with their holes.
By helping raptors thrive, Meher Mount is helping to keep the predator-prey balance in the ecosystem. The Ojai Raptor Center calls raptors and owls “free, natural and abundant rodent control!”
On December 4, 2017, the Thomas Fire hit Meher Mount. Within a few days, the damage assessment began. At first, it seemed straightforward: Document the damage. Make a list for insurance. Begin to repair the damage.
There was some thought that in 90 days the fire recovery "to do list" would be complete, pending insurance reimbursement. As fire recovery progressed, the to do list never seemed to get shorter. In fact, each newly completed or half-completed task seemed to generate several more related tasks. The to do list was never ending.
Then it dawned on us – draw a line through the task list. When all the recovery projects before that line were completed, declare victory.
Now, seven months - 207 days to be exact - after the Thomas Fire, Meher Mount is declaring victory. The task list is still long, but every operational aspect related to fire damage has been fixed.
Break out the champagne, it’s a celebration.
On December 4, 2017, Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky evacuated with their Airsteam travel trailer to Oceano, CA, because the Thomas Fire had forced them to leave Meher Mount.
Buzz and Ginger continued to stay in Oceano even during fire cleanup and recovery, often traveling three to four hours to and from Meher Mount. Before they left Oceano in late May, a number of followers of Meher Baba visited them and the Dunite museum with Gavin Arthur's house, where Meher Baba had spent the night in 1934.
On December 11, 2017, Buzz posted this story on Facebook about their stay in Oceano.
After the Thomas Fire fire struck Meher Mount on December 4, 2017, help in the form of time, energy and money, began trickling in and then streaming in.
It was inspiring for all who were on the ground, day-to-day, to feel the love and caring from around the world. The support made recovery and regeneration practically and energetically possible for Meher Mount.
It was suggested by Cassandra Bramucci that Meher Mount find a way to thank all the donors and volunteers. She thought sending a keepsake with the ashes from Baba’s Tree would be appropriate.