Talk and Walk with Kate Marianchild

Saturday May 14 2016   10:00 AM
Effie Yeaw Nature Center  2850 San Lorenzo Way, Carmichael, CA  map

The talk: In a lecture spiced with humor and beautifully illustrated with images of trees, birds, galls, mistletoe, and other members of the oak woodlands, Secrets of the Oak Woodlands author Kate Marianchild will introduce us to the survival strategies of our venerable valley oaks and the web of life in which they are entwined. These trees, endemic to California and once common in the Central Valley, are the longest-lived and most magnificent oaks in North America. Kate will discuss the role “grandmother” valley oaks play in oak ecosystems, supplying nutrients and water to plants of all families and phyla­­ via networks of underground fungi, and providing food, housing, and foraging opportunities to myriad animal species. Audience members will learn about the quirks of acorn woodpecker clans, the wonders of oak galls, and the strategies that allow valley oaks to survive drought, flood, and defoliation.

The walk: At noon Kate will lead an interpretive field study through our center’s oak woodlands, sharing her knowledge of various species we will encounter. While observing an active red-shouldered hawk nest we’ll hear Kate’s stories of another red-shouldered hawk nest she studied and wrote about in Birder’s World. We’ll learn fascinating tidbits about bushtits, Anna’s hummingbirds, and western fence lizards. We’ll use close-focusing binoculars to find the clear scale that allows light into the functional third eyes of fence lizards. We’ll talk about the the life cycles and habits of various butterflies and dragonflies we’ll see; if we’re lucky we’ll have a chance to inspect some caterpillars and/or chrysalises. Soap plant may be blooming, this year’s oak apple galls should be in evidence, and, of course, we’ll look closely at oak trees, reviewing ways of identifying different species. Please bring binoculars if you have, them, including close-focusing binoculars.

Seminar and field study: $25 (general admission) $20 (ARNHA members). Seminar only: $15 (general admission) $10 (ARNHA members). Register by calling (916) 489-4918 or online at

Kate MarianchildWhen Kate Marianchild migrated to the oak woodlands of inland Mendocino County in 2001, she promptly fell in love with an ecosystem. After writing for Audubon and other nature-oriented nonprofits for several years, she began the research that led to the writing of this book. Marianchild studied Chinese language and literature at UC Berkeley and New Asia College in Hong Kong, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Berkeley with a degree in comparative literature. Following years of grassroots political activism, she moved to Mendocino County in 1980 and supported herself as a carpenter while founding and running Rising Tide Sea Vegetables, a company that is still thriving today under new ownership. For the past thirteen years she has lived in a cozy twenty-five-foot-diameter yurt with no indoor plumbing except a sink and a two-gallon hot water heater. In addition to watching wildlife, leading nature walks, and giving slide presentations, Marianchild sings with two community choirs, kayaks, swims, and participates in the events of her beloved community. (Kate Marianchild was known as Kathy Roberts before she changed her name to honor her deceased mother.)