As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Tiny bird ends Civil War in Costa Mesa

By Bradley Zint

May 1, 2015 | 7:32 p.m.

One year ago, Union and Confederate armies descended upon Costa Mesa's Fairview Park to exchange harmless volleys of musket fire.

It was the sixth annual Battle of Costa Mesa, a Civil War reenactment event on May 3 and 4 that drew thousands of participants and spectators into the park to witness living history.

But now, in what would have been its seventh year, the Battle of Costa Mesa is no more. As it turned out, neither the North or South brought an end to the faux conflict.

Rather, it was the California gnatcatcher — a tiny songbird — and the environmental regulations surrounding it that primarily swayed the Civil War enthusiasts from using the 208-acre park.

Or, in the words of Scott Peca, Battle of Costa Mesa organizer, that little bird "sideswiped" their event.

"It was just a mess," he said in an interview this week. "We were thrown too many hurdles with the environmentalists [for us to] want to come back."

The California gnatcatcher is considered a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because gnatcatchers are known to nest in Fairview Park in the springtime, City Hall must comply with various environmental regulations for gnatcatchers and other birds, said Dan Baker, Costa Mesa's public affairs manager.

Those rules include conducting a field study to verify where the birds nest. Baker noted that if a gnatcatcher were found nesting in an area of Fairview that the reenactors wanted to use, they would need to adjust their plans.

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