2018 Declared Year of the Bird!

February 18, 2018  •  1 Comment

Coinciding with the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act's ratification, more than 100 national and international organizations have joined forces to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird.  As such, I want to encourage you to take walks in the Ballona Wetlands to see our winter wildlife neighbors before they depart for their breeding grounds (mostly to Alaska, Canada, and northern USA).  The migratory birds will start leaving in March, so you only have the next 3-5 weeks to see them before they leave.

Per Wikipedia, The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a US federal law first enacted in 1916 between the US and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada). Other countries were added in later years (Mexico, Japan, and USSR/Russia) the statute makes it unlawful without a waiver to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell birds listed therein as migratory birds. The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs, and nests. Over 800 species are currently on the list. Some of the conventions stipulate protections not only for the birds themselves, but also for habitats and environs necessary for the birds’ survival.

In spite of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, many migratory birds are in steep decline and trending to be extinct within the next 30-40 years.  Habitat destruction, climate change, and sea level rise (for coastal birds) are the main factors contributing to this trend. Per California Audubon,

  • Birds designated Climate Endangered are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050, just over 30 years ahead.
  • Birds that are classified as Climate Threatened are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace.  Sooner than that if global warming continues faster than expected.

In the early 21st Century, both the remaining birds and their habitats must be fiercely protected and gently restored as close as possible to their original functions, conditions, and quantities.  Their future existence depends on it.

Best places to see our winter neighbors before they leave:

  • Estuary Areas:
    • Along the Ballona Creek bike path from Centinela west to the mouth of the creek,
    • In the Del Rey Lagoon, the Ballona Lagoon (Venice Canals),
    • Beaches near the mouth of Ballona Creek
  • In the Fresh Water Marsh (at Lincoln & Jefferson), and seasonal ponding areas (in Areas A, B, & C)
  • Mixed Area-B (Salt pans, tidal salt-water/brackish)
    • Attend Audubon’s Saturday, March 4th Open Wetlands (9am-noon) in Area-B (entrance is behind Gordon’s Market on Culver Blvd in Playa Del Rey). You can wander by yourself or request an Audubon docent to guide you. Binoculars are available to borrow.
    • If you want a Tip Sheet for recognizing some of our Ballona Wildlife Neighbors, including those who will soon be leaving to their northern breeding grounds for the spring and summer, the Ballona Wildlife Brochure is still available via the Ballona Photography website, Gordon's Market, or at the Audubon Open Wetlands on March 4th. 

I’ve included photos of a few of my favorite migrants. There are many, many more, so treat yourself and get out and see them for yourself.  Enjoy!

Bufflehead, Climate Endangered. See them in estuary areas

Cinnamon Teal, Estuary areas & Freshwater Marsh. Climate Endangered. 

Red-breasted Merganser, Estuary areas. Climate Endangered. 

Scaups, Estuary areas, occasional Freshwater Marsh. Greater Scaup, Climate Endangered. Lesser Scaup, Climate Threatened.

Northern Shoveler, Fresh Water Marsh, primarily. Climate Endangered.


Comments

Eugene Nutt(non-registered)
Love the Mergansers, we had 2 on Lake Union, along with 2 flashy Grebe.
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