Venice is for the Birds

By Vanessa Cabello

It’s not too often I think about birds.  From time to time I spot and admire birds in the wild, but I have never really paid much attention to the study and habits of birds (officially termed “ornithology”).  But since my recent move to a shrubby part of Venice Beach, near Speedway and the Ocean Walk, I have become much more aware of our feathered friends, both their triumphs of urban adaptation, as well as the unique perils that they face.

The fact that so many different species and types of birds (including waterfowl, seabirds, and jungle birds) can even survive all the hustle and bustle in Venice Beach, the Southland’s second most visited destination (after Disneyland) is amazing unto itself.  And if you pay attention at all, you’ll start to see them everywhere.  Notice the mallard ducks near the canals, for example, as snowy egrets lounge nearby in the sun.  Seagulls and sandpipers scamper by the ocean, as brown pelicans fly overhead.  Crows, African parrots, English sparrows, seagulls, pigeons, egrets and pelicans, among others all have year-round populations that call Venice Beach home, and their numbers are augmented by other species migrating through. To think of how these birds must survive on a daily basis sometimes baffles even the most hopeful Darwinist in me.

But Sometimes They Need A Little Human Help To Survive
Did you know that mallard ducks are indigenous to this area?  That flocks were reported before Abbot Kinney built his visionary seaside community?  Yes, mallards predate Kinney’s roads, buildings, and canals, and can still be found throughout the day swimming through the neighborhood.

One main nesting and gathering hub for the native mallards is around the Abbot Kinney Venice Library Branch.  Usually they can be found in the grassy area and the parking lot at the [which NE, NW? etc.] corner, which, because of vehicle traffic, is a particularly dangerous location.  Starting at this nesting site, the mallards often like to waddle over to the canal off of Venice Boulevard, and in doing so, are regularly crushed to death by careless drivers.

Indeed, I have personally witnessed a half a dozen bird accidents in the four months that I have lived in Venice, and it’s disturbing. Therefore my friends and I seek to advocate the city to put up a duck crossing sign at both the dangerous intersection near the library, as well as one marking the canal that ends at Venice Boulevard, near Pacific Avenue, also a key danger point.  These standard “Duck Xing” street signs will warn drivers to slow down and look out for the ducks.  Because so many vehicles are operated by tourists unfamiliar with local streets and its wildlife, such a warning is critical, and would greatly help to maintain the size and vitality of the local Mallard flock.  Remember, the ducks were here first.

We Could Use Some Help Too
If you live in Los Angeles, and are interested in helping us petition the City of Los Angeles to install these two “Duck XING” signs, please contact me at veniceducks@gmail.com.  Hopefully our efforts will result in the proper installation of these two duck crossings sign ASAP.  If you can’t join us, please wish us luck, and happy bird watching!

For more information on how to conserve and restore local bird ecosystems, please visit the local Audubon Society website:losangelesaudubon.org
For further information about the Venice Canals, check out this great guide: www.travelinlocal.com/a-guide-to-walking-the-venice-canals-in-los-angele

Categories: Environment