Black-necked Stilts on Ballona Creek

Black-necked Stilt Ballona Creek

Black-necked Stilt, Ballona Creek, July 2020

Black-necked Stilts on Ballona Creek

Today, I went for a bike ride along Ballona Creek. There is a bike path along the concrete creek. It runs from the beach at Playa del Rey about 6 miles inland to a park in Culver City. We live halfway between the beach and the end of the path. Instead of heading from my house toward the beach, which is my usual path, I went inland. There’s rarely a lot of bird ac

tion on this section of the creek. It is almost entirely devoid of dirt, mud, or vegetation, so there isn’t much to attract the birds other than a drink. One section has had Solitary Sandpipers during fall migration, and there are often a handful of Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer around. Besides the Northern Rough-winged Swallows, the predominate bird on this section of the creek is Black-necked Stilt. 

Black-necked Stilt Ballona Creek

Black-necked Stilts breed on the creek. On my ride today, I saw at least 16 juvenile birds, ranging in age from a week or so to approximately 8-10 weeks. It was pretty fun to be able to see the development of Black-necked Stilts in one short bike ride. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, they are mostly legs at first, and a speckled white color. But as they grow, the black feathers come in. Before they get jet black feathers, though, their backs and wing feather have a rusty fringe.

Black-necked Stilt Ballona Creek

As development proceeds, they retain a white arc above the eye. The legs just keep growing, and slowly evolve into the pink stilts of adult birds.

Adult Black-necked Stilt

Adult Black-necked Stilts

Ballona Creek Culver City

The Ballona Creek in all its concrete glory

Links to Good Stuff

Atlantic Puffin Maine

Atlantic Puffin, Bar Harbor Pelagic, Maine, July 2017

Birding, Race, and Inclusion

  • The New Yorker talks to Corina Newsome, one of the organizers of #BlackBirdersWeek. “I’m always on guard. I try to prominently display my gear. Even if I don’t see a bird, if I see white folks approaching me, I immediately look through my binoculars. I need them to know what I’m doing. There’s no way I’m going in a remote area, or the woods, without a white person as cover.” 
  • Recordings of two conversations among Black birders are available here and here
  • An ABA podcast looks back on Black Birders Week, and more importantly, looks ahead.
  • PBS Nova and Christian Cooper talk birding and inclusion.

Blogs and other highlights

  • A rare Terek Sandpiper in Rhode Island, chased by boat: “Having the boat as our mode of transport was looking rather fortuitous. We decided to give it a shot.”
  • The White-throated Sparrow is changing its song, and Canada is not happy about it.
  • IUsedtoHateBirds keeps it real: “Black lives matter and wear a fucking mask.”
  • NPR’s Short Wave does a Birding 101 podcast.
  • Seagull Steve distracts us with always welcome Costa Rica trip reports
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