Women of Sunbelt: Wendy Esterly

Sunbelt has been fortunate to publish another female birder and photographer. Wendy Esterly’s stunning images of birds and other wildlife have been used in publications and exhibits. They are the basis for the coloring pages in Coloring Southern California Birds. She is a dedicated volunteer instructor for the SDNHM Canyoneers and a Mission Trails Regional Park trail guide.

Little Jewel’s Remarkable Journey

Have you ever watched a baby hummingbird grow up? Now you can through stunning photographs of an adorable baby hummingbird and her loving mom. The heartwarming story will delight children as they follow Little Jewel from the day she hatches out of a tiny egg (Day 1) to the day she flies out of the nest (Day 24). With her mom’s great care and protection, Little Jewel grows into a beautiful fledgling ready to explore the world. This engaging book also includes a day-by-day growth chart of Little Jewel, facts about hummingbirds, and tips to attract hummingbirds to gardens.

Author Susanne Strauss is an award-winning nature photographer and educator. She had the wonderful opportunity to observe and photograph hummingbirds that had nested and raised their young in her garden. Her photographs inspired the story of Little Jewel. Susanne displays her hummingbird photographs at the local library and gives presentations on baby hummingbirds at schools and nature stores. She enjoys traveling to national parks, photographing wildlife, and backyard birding.

Fun Facts about Little Jewel and Hummingbirds

  • Little Jewel is an Allen’s hummingbird. Allen’s hummingbirds nest primarily in California and southern Oregon.
  • It is currently breeding season. Breeding season can begin in January and last until July.
  • The female builds the nest, incubates the eggs, and raises the young on her own. The female usually lays two eggs. Little Jewel’s mom laid two eggs; however, the second egg did not hatch. It stayed in the nest while Little Jewel grew up.
  • The nest is about 1.5 inches in diameter and stretches as the baby hummingbird grows. The inside of the nest is soft. The outside of the nest is covered with tiny twigs, leaves, and plant material and is held together with spider silk. Little Jewel’s mom also decorated the nest with paint chips from the garden fence.
  • The courtship behavior of a male hummingbird consists of first flying back and forth like a pendulum and then flying high into the sky, diving down, and making a unique sound as he nears back to the female. He’ll climb again and soar down a couple more times.

Watch a video of Little Jewel being fed by her mother below!

Women’s History Month: Coast to Cactus

Did you know that the award-winning book Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors was edited by three women?
Diana Lindsay, a Canyoneer since 1988, award-winning author, and president of Sunbelt Publications.
Paula Knoll, a past president of the Canyoneers who has guided walks since 1987 and, along with Alan Marshal, facilitated over 25 years of the Canyoneer hike schedule. Sadly, Paula has since passed away.
Terri Varnell, a Canyoneer and active birder who worked over 26 year for University of California, San Diego, as an administrative programmer.
Three women standing shoulder to shoulder. From left to right: Terri Varnell, Paula Knoll, Diana Lindsay
From Left to Right: Terri Varnell, Paula Knoll, Diana Lindsay

Women’s History Month: What is a medal of the Order of Isabel la Catolica?

During a previous Sunbelt Spotlight with author Dr. Iris Engstrand, Diana Lindsay asked about the prestigious medal of the Order of Isabel la Catolica and what it means. This portion of the Spotlight can be viewed in the video below. Dr. Engstrand is a respected historian, whose work has been recognized across the globe, and she is certainly a remarkable woman. We are proud to have published her book, San Diego: California’s Cornerstone, a sweeping history of the region from the time of its indigenous people to the 21st century.

Women’s History Month: Highlighting our Female Authors

Throughout the month of March, we are going to highlight our female authors.

To kick of our celebration of the women of Sunbelt, the obvious place to start is with our fearless leader, Diana Lindsay, founder and president of Sunbelt Publications since 1984.

Diana received her master’s degree in history and geography from San Diego State University. Her thesis was subsequently published as “Our Historic Desert” by Copley Books in 1973. A few years later, she co-authored “The Anza-Borrego Desert Region,” a guidebook to the area published by Wilderness Press in 1978, now it its 6th edition. Among her many other books that she has written or edited are Anza-Borrego A to Z: People, Places, and Things (2001); Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles (2005); Ricardo Breceda: Accidental Artist (2012); Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors (2016); and A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region: Then and Now (2020). Ricardo Breceda and Coast to Cactus have both been recognized in national awards contests.
She was awarded the Medallion Award from the State of California for her 30 years of volunteer work on behalf of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and was named a Lifetime Member in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Botany Society based on her vision and leadership skills and creating excellence in education. She also served as a trustee for the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Diana Lindsay with her book Anza-Borrego Desert Region 6th edition

Sunbelt Spotlight: A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region

If you missed this week’s Sunbelt Spotlight with A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region co-author Mike Wells, you can find a link to the recording below.

Mike gave us an overview of the many topics covered in this comprehensive volume, with specific examples from the region. “What is a desert?” “What was the region like during the Ice Age?” “How do animals and plants survive desert conditions?” You can find answers to those questions and more in this talk and the book!

The book evolved from a course on the natural history of the Anza-Borrego region that was developed by the authors over a 16-year period and taught at the University of San Diego. It tells a coherent story of how the landscape and features of a desert region evolved over time and how organisms that inhabit the desert have adapted to the conditions found there by taking many different evolutionary paths to deal with aridity, heat, and saline soils. The result is an amazing biological diversity that has evolved in response to these conditions.

A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region is encyclopedic in detail and is yet very readable. Each illustration was handcrafted to tell a story and to help the reader better understand the fascinating story of this unique desert place and its first human inhabitants. This is the “go-to” book for anyone wanting to understand the natural environment of the Anza-Borrego region.

Order the Book Here

Mike Wells completed a 34-year career with California State Parks in 2010. His first permanent assignment in 1977 was Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, where he served as a state park ranger. Over the next three decades he enjoyed assignments in the Sierra Nevada foothills, coastal redwoods, and beaches, serving as a ranger, resource ecologist, and park superintendent. His final assignment was district superintendent of the Colorado Desert District, which includes ABDSP. Mike has a PhD in physical geography from a joint program with San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. His area of study is fire ecology of southern California forest and chaparral communities. He was a lecturer for the Department of Biology, University of San Diego, from 2001–2017

Season’s Greetings

We wish you happy holidays and look forward to a New Year that is filled with health and happiness. We so appreciate everyone who has continued to support Sunbelt Publications during this very difficult pandemic. It has been a year filled with changes. In person events were moved online through programs like Zoom. We have adjusted to this “new normal” by starting our Sunbelt Spotlight series, intimate sessions with your favorite authors. One benefit to hosting events online is that they can be recorded and made available for folks to watch at a later date. Spotlight recordings can be viewed on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SunbeltPub

It was also a year that saw the publication of California Indian Basketry: Ikons of the Florescence, a book that has been in production for over three years. Most books are birthed in nine months from editing, to design, to printing. This book had a gestation period almost twice that of the gestation period of an African elephant (645 days). We are very happy that the long labor of this magnificent book is finally over and that we will begin shipping orders in December.

Another blessing has been our very own customers and associated friends that stepped forward during Covid-19 to help fund the publication of our latest book in the Sunbelt Color & Learn series: Coloring Southern California Butterflies & Caterpillars by Bill Howell, instructor extraordinaire for the San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers and Mission Trails Regional Park Trail Guides. Bill is graciously donating his royalties to the SDNHM, just as Wendy Esterly and Brad Hollingsworth have done for their books: Coloring Southern California Birds and Coloring Lizards, Snakes, & More Southern California.

We are really looking forward to retail stores, museums, and visitor centers opening with a more normal business situation. Our hearts go out to all those suffering and impacted by Covid-19. We wish everyone a healthy and better year ahead.

Diana Lindsay, President
Sunbelt Publications

Early Jewish Celebrations in San Diego County

For this  “Throwback Thursday” we’re featuring our Sunbelt Spotlight with Donald Harrison that originally streamed back in September. He shared with us some of the early records of Jewish celebrations in San Diego county.


Sunbelt Spotlight: Baja’s Wild Side with Daniel Cartamil

In this Sunbelt Spotlight lecture, Daniel Cartamil shares the origins of his book, Baja’s Wild Side with the audience. The journey begins with shark research in the region. As Daniel explored and photographed more and more of Baja California, a book filled with breathtaking images of remote landscapes, wildlife, and cultural treasures emerged. During this talk, it was announced that a Part Two is in the works! Check it all out in the video below.

California’s First Independence Day with Iris Engstrand

Did you know California’s first Independence Day is actually in September? California was still under Spanish rule when Mexico won their independence. This long battle for independence began on September 16th, 1810 and ended September 27th, 1821.

In the video below, historian and author Iris Engstrand shares with us the ups and downs of the independence movement and how this impacted California in the following years. Hear stories of early San Diegans from the Mexican period and more!