On the way back from a delicious Indian buffet lunch in Marina del Rey, my eagle-eyed colleague drew my attention to two ravens scliding in over the rooftops of Playa Vista – avid birders that ravens are, they were probably coming in to check out the Ballona wetlands preserve. However, with the Furama Hotel, where there is a raven nest on the top floor, closed and likely to be renovated, they might have been checking out LA’ s newest and probably largest mass luxury housing development.
We don’t see ravens frequently in this area, so it seems reasonable to assume that this is the pair that owns the nest and the territory.
Last Sunday found me atop the Verdugos, finding at least three dozen ravens having a big party in the pine woods planted on the heights. Birds were seen entering and leaving the area at high altitude (at least at high as Mt. Verdugo at times). Although it was partly cloudy and cool, there seemed to be plenty of air currents to play in – the birds were mostly on the fire-damaged, west side of the mountains, where the occasional sun might have been producing warmer air. A lot of acrobatics and pairing off was observed. In other areas of the Verdugos, isolated pairs combed the undamaged areas in typical foraging mode.
I had a look at the map and noted that the pair observed on December 6th departed Hollywood at high altitude over Mt. Cahuenga, on a route that would take them directly to the site of the big congregation seen there today. The question now: is that a frequent congregation? I’m hoping to find out on Boxing Day.
I think the winter may be bringing larger numbers of vagrants to town. On my way to Runyon for a quick warmup for the next day’s 10-mile hike across the Verdugos, a flying circus of some 12-14 ravens suddenly passed overhead (at the very top of LaBrea Ave.) They dispersed before long, but the observation confirmed for me a less certain one from the previous Wednesday, when at about the same time in the afternoon (4 p.m. or so) a large cloud of the birds was hovering between Highland and LaBrea at Willoughby or Melrose, until one bird made a decision and flew off to the west.
I do know there are more ravens in the immediate vicinity of Runyon than previous to December.
On the way back from Runyon, three ravens were playing above Hollywood Boulevard, perching on ten story office buildings, diving off them like Mexican cliff divers, and buzzing the pigeons.
Cloudy and cool. One raven heading east-north-east at 50 ft. from direction of Park La Brea. Southernmost random sighting to date.
Mostly cloudy and cool. Two ravens over rooftops and alighting on telephone poles.
In Baker, California, the ravens occupy the place of pigeons in the local, anthropogenetic ecosystem, while long-tailed grackles play the role of crow. This online slideshow from Baker gives the impression that the raven is only part of the wilderness that surrounds the town, which also claims the title, “Gateway to Death Valley.”
This observer was transported instantly to nirvana – ravens everywhere, unafraid of novelty, ready to pounce on the nearest unattended Cheetoh. Fortunately, the Bun Boy restaurant also has a motel attached, so further research is only a Greyhound ticket away
Up to Runyon – for exercise, I swear. Somewhat early in the morning, cool, partly cloudy. again the only time I’ve caught the birds with food or caching – walking up LaBrea by Hawthorne, raven alights on billboard with some sort of paper wrapper looking thing. Bird hops inside billboard, seems to cache. May have just eaten the thing, really. Must get up earlier to catch them at the foraging. Or maybe it would be easier to stay up later? Sleep deprivation either way.
In the canyon, only two birds in courting mode. Is a pair planning to nest in the lower canyon entrance – those big pines must be attractive. Does the pair often seen at the Wright house nest there? Will more than one pair accomodate themselves? After all, L.A. is a big smorgasboard.
Mid-morning sighting, Highland and Beverly. I had just been reading John Marzluff’s book, where research on Los Angeles crows was noted. Reminds me to check the golf courses (one of which is not far east of today’s location).
Runyon Canyon was a giant raven party this morning, with up to eight ravens at a time in flight above the ridges and canyons, mostly occupied in courting behavior, so far as I could tell. Various twosomes and threesomes mostly, favoring the lower ridges and treetop-filled canyons at the border between the mountains and the dense city. A particularly romantic pair sat for awhile above the Wright house allopreening. I think today also set a record for greatest variety of vocalizations. From cooing to rruk-rruk-rruk to ro’ to female display knocking – sounds very textbook but it was great fun because they were often so close to trails.