Ballona Photography | Ballona Wetlands - Fall 2015 Migration & Some Returning Wildlife Neighbors

Ballona Wetlands - Fall 2015 Migration & Some Returning Wildlife Neighbors

March 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

By Bev-Sue Powers, © all rights reserved (

In the Fall of 2015, I observed several species of our winter neighbors return to the Ballona Wetlands, a few more each week. Some of the birds I spotted last fall were:

  • Western & Eared GrebesWestern & Eared Grebes Western & Eared GrebesWestern & Eared Grebes Western Grebes & Eared Grebes. Breeds in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Minnesota.  Winters along Pacific coast. 
  • American Coots. Breeds from western Canada and northeastern United States.  Western population winters from the western and southern states into the American tropics.  
  • Green Heron. Western population breeds in West from British Columbia south through California, Arizona, and Mexico. Very few winter in So. California.
  • Northern Shoveler. Breeds from Alaska/Northern Manitoba.  Winters in across southern US from Oregon/California, Gulf Coast, to Central America,
  • Ruddy Duck. Breeds in British Columbia, Quebec and Mackenzie. Western population winters primarily in along the pacific coast from BC to Mexico.
  • American Wigeon. Breeds in Alaska, Manitoba, Quebec.  Winters in Pacific, Atlantic, & Gulf coasts
  • Bufflehead. Breeds in Canada on wooded lakes and ponds.  Winters in southern US to Mexico.

Wintering birds return to refuel from northern breeding spots to strengthen themselves and their fledglings for the next spring’s flight north.  Just some of the food sources the wetlands supplies to our wintering neighbors include:

  • aquatic plants, insects, frogs, and small lizards living throughout the Ballona Wetlands
  • Snails, tiny crabs, tiny fish (1/4”-2”) in the Del Rey Lagoon and in the creek and marina, and on the beach (at low tide) 
  • Mussels & oysters, small fish, and crustaceans along the jetties, in the creek and marina

Though I am thrilled they’ve returned to the Ballona Wetlands, the very limited number of them returning is indicative as to how tenuous their survival is and how important the Ballona Wetlands is to their centuries-old cycle of life along the Pacific Flyway (i.e., migration path). Several species are listed as rare or uncommon, but Cinnamon teals and Widgeons, among others, while listed as common, are – alarmingly - flagged as rapidly declining species, i.e., trending to be extinct within 40-50 years. It remains up to us to make sure they have a robust place to return to each winter and reverse this trend!


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