For Ballona’s Birds [SLIDESHOW]

By Joyce Amaro, LA Stormwater

Smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles’ west side is Ballona Wetlands, a natural oasis for creatures of all different persuasions. When one visits the freshwater marsh portion of Ballona’s wetlands, as I did recently on a bright and blustery spring day, it is almost impossible to get away from the roar of cars racing along Lincoln Boulevard and the rumble of 747’s taking off from LAX. But to the credit of the critters who call Ballona Wetlands their home, I seemed to be the only creature bothered by the din of urban life.

When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was that the birds of Ballona were making plenty of noise themselves. A cacophony of quacks, chatterings, chirps and tweets filled the air as I began walking around the marsh’s perimeter looking for the path that would take me down into the marsh and away from the cars and planes. I never did find an open path into the marsh, but it didn’t take me long to find Ballona’s loud residents. A pair of Mallard ducks and their brood of ducklings glided easily through the water. Further down the path, a Red Wing Black Bird perched atop a tree, surveying the marsh and poised to chase away any challengers. Over the marsh Swifts made me dizzy with their impressive aerial acrobatics. A Mourning Dove sat peacefully on a low branch. Hummingbirds zoomed past me. A Red-Tailed Hawk flew lazy circles in the sky. Towards the end of my visit, I spied a glimpse of a Snowy Egret and a pair of Canadian Geese with a gosling near a teensy island.

Birds weren’t the only fauna I found. As I strolled, several fence lizards darted across my path and I caught one eyeing me warily from behind a small rock before turning with a jerk and slithering under dry leaves. Near the water’s edge, a handful of red-eared turtles sunned themselves. Three Jack Rabbits hopped lazily along until they caught sight of me.

As I walked along the perimeter path, peering through thick trees and brush and, at times, standing on the wooden fence, to try and see Ballona’s feathered residents, I thought with some amusement that I felt like someone who was trying to get a glimpse of famous celebrities at a fabulous gala taking place just on the other side of a fence. I vowed to return on a day when tours of Ballona Wetlands would allow me to get beyond that fence and into Ballona’s “party.” On this day, though, I was content to enjoy the sweet sights and sounds of a sliver of nature that we must continue to protect as a place for Angelenos to enjoy, as a rest stop for our migrating feathered friends and as a home for Ballona’s birds.

Learn more about the habitat from Friends of Ballona Wetlands.

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