Chicken Corner was wondering about the bird numbers from the July 19 counting expedition at Echo Park Lake. So she emailed Judy Raskin, neighborhood activists and volunteer for the Audubon Society, to ask whether Raskin thought migration could account for the large drop in the number of species recorded last weekend (26), compared to January's count (42).
Hi, Jenny. The number of species at any time will vary. For example, the winter migrations are over, mostly, except for the occasional bird here and there. Most of the birds at the lake now either are resident or find their food and shelter within a swath that includes the lake. I'm surprised by the number of Canada geese here now, but I bet they will move on within a few weeks, maybe to the river, maybe to another lake. Most of the wild mallards are gone, as are virtually all of the American coots -- I noticed only two yesterday. On the other hand, there were loads of bushtits, a species that we didn't see much of in recent years.
The number of species also has another side to it. How good are the eyes of the watchers? Our walks last from 2-3 hours because the lake area is not large. If we were to stay here for, say, four or six hours, we'd probably see species that were invisible to us on the first go round.
For the record, Chicken Corner walked around Echo Park Lake this afternoon and her count for coots was also two (as opposed to the hundreds we see over the winter). Rock on, you stay-at-the-lake coots! At least until eviction time, when the lake is drained....