News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

Birds flock together at local lagoons

CARLSBAD — Hundreds of Carlsbad residents visited one of three lagoons in the city May 9 to learn more about migratory birds who frequent the area.
To draw attention to International Migratory Bird Day, created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in 1993, all three lagoons in the city hosted nature walks, educational programs and children’s activities.
“Each of the three lagoons is an important rest stop on the ‘Pacific Flyway,’ for migrating birds,” Nikki Weaver, director of the Discovery Center at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, said.
With more than 200 species of birds traveling through and to the area from points north and south, the route is often referred to as the Pacific Flyway.
Types of birds vary from well-known species such as the western sandpiper, great egrets, and the California least tern to the lesser known birds such as the marbled godwit, western snowy plover and black skimmer.
“Birds can be seen in the rivers, creeks or lagoons, and a lot of them even go inland,” Weaver explained.
However, the gradual disappearance of the wetlands, she said, in part due to development, has led to dwindling numbers and species.
“Only 50 percent of the birds that head out make it back alive,” Weaver said.
Natural hazards such as predators, climate change and drought have given the birds a challenge.
“Without water there are going to be fewer birds,” Weaver said.
Other hazards have also led to the decrease in population in recent years. Those hazards include power lines and tall buildings, especially lighted buildings at night, which can confuse the birds, she said.
The goal of the festival was to educate people and increase awareness of the problem, as well as to provide solutions.
Those who visited the Discovery Center were also able to see up close some of the birds native to the area such as the red tailed hawk, an American kestrel and a burrowing owl. The birds were part of an exhibit by the Orange County Birds of Prey rehabilitation center.
In addition, a photography exhibit by local underwater photographer William Kloetzer allowed for an even closer look at the birds of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
The collection of about 30 photographs took about four years to complete, Kloetzer said, and will be available to view through June.
The Discovery Center is located on the shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon off Cannon Road in Carlsbad. For more information, call (760) 804-1969.