Ravens Not In Echo Park

Results of the Backyard Bird Count. It is odd, considering how many ravens frequent Elysian Park, Dodger Stadium, Downtown, and Griffith Park, that they so disdain Echo Park Lake.

Locality: 90026, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA
Observation Date: FEB 15, 2009
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Total Birding Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Party Size: 2
Skill: good
Weather: excellent
Snow Depth: No snow was present
Number of Species: 22
All Reported: yes
Ross’s Goose – 1
Canada Goose – 2
American Wigeon – 8
Mallard – 10
Ring-necked Duck – 6
Greater Scaup – 1
Ruddy Duck – 8
Pied-billed Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 4
Great Blue Heron – 6
Black-crowned Night-Heron – 1
American Coot – 50
Western Gull – 20
Glaucous-winged Gull – 3
Rock Pigeon – 100
Anna’s Hummingbird – 1
American Crow – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) – 6
Brewer’s Blackbird – 15
Great-tailed Grackle – 30
Brown-headed Cowbird – 10
House Sparrow – 1

Brush Canyon roost still on

Last December I had been hiking late in the afternoon around Mt. Hollywood, when I noticed group after group of ravens appearing from the east, and flying over the tunnel near the Observatory. They would all take a similar path over the top of Mocahuenga Canyon, crossing over the western ridge near a large water tank. After hiking over to see where they were going – I was guessing Lake Hollywood – I found that their destination was the area of the Hollywood Girls Camp on the west side of Brush Canyon, not far below the Hollywood Sign.

Today I spent the later part of the afternoon on a hike up and around Mt. Hollywood. Large groups of two to three dozen birds were cavorting over the upper slopes, and some would break off in the direction of Brush Canyon. As the sun sank lower in the sky, some birds looked to be settling in on Hollywood Way – until they got annoyed when I stopped by to take a look. More birds arrived from the east, again making their way down to the roost I’d seen before. I passed the tunnel at true sunset, and there were still small groups of birds flying in, using the same route as I’d seen before.

Like everyone else in LA, ravens commute to work…

There are very large landfills to the east of Glendale, so I’m assuming that’s where their job site is.

Nesting Season 2009

When I saw ravens this January, I often saw one in hot pursuit of another, and not in a friendly way. I’m supposing that this is the time when the owners and would-be owners of breeding territories begin to assert themselves. And I notice from the dates on last year’s posts that we are on the threshold of nesting season. Even ravens celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Last year’s nesting observations went mostly unrecorded, so the first thing to do is review what happened and where. It was the first year that I happened to observe several active nests, and even fledglings. I also learned how quickly ravens can spot an animal that is watching them, and how quickly and energetically they will target that animal in an effort to chase it off.

Two sites were in large power pylons. Two were inside billboards – the double-faced ones that are common in LA, and probably used a lot for caching, too. One was on the facade of a church, where nests had been constructed on the shoulders of the statues of Saints Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Siena. Only one of these nests was used. I am assuming the nest in the pine tree at the Wright house in Runyon Canyon is used every year, but it is impossible to actually see that one. The sites ranged from the LA River on the Valley side of the Santa Monica Mountains to a billboard on Lincoln Blvd. two miles or less north of LAX. The two pylon sites were also located very near freeways.

Former nesting sites in some of the areas were not used. The nest that is high on the side of Iron Mountain is still in place, but seems abandoned. There had been a nest on the upper floors of the Furama Hotel, but this was dislodged when it was renovated into its new incarnation as the Custom.

All sites, including trees, are anthropogenic. Native oaks do grow high on steep slopes of the Santa Monicas, and one would expect nesting in these. Vast tracts of LA probably harbor other nesting territories, if the known density is constant. Given the abundance of food here

Seemingly the ideal - at least 30m above the street (and the fast food joints) in the heart of Hollywood's Media District.

Seemingly the ideal - at least 30m above the street (and the fast food joints) in the heart of Hollywood'd Media District.

, raven pairs probably have a much higher tolerance for neighbors than they would in the wild.

Nesting Season 2008

Blessed Sacrament ChurchThis year, a pair of ravens on Sunset Boulevard have entered the competition for Most Interesting Site – they have constructed not one but two nests on the facade of the landmark Blessed Sacrament church in the heart of Hollywood’s entertainment district. Not only did they choose the facade, but they also have invoked the patronage of two medieval Catholic saints.

Now that it’s Nesting Season 2009, we’ll be keeping an eye on this and other sites around Los Angeles, to see if former sites are used again. It was indeed a miracle that even one fledgling survived, given the very dangerous conditions they have to contend with while growing up on one of LA’s busiest boulevards.