Category: Breeding

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

Baby Birds

Snowy Plover Dockweiler Beach

Two tiny Snowy Plover hatchlings at Dockweiler Beach

Baby Birds Everywhere

Lots of odd looking fuzzy birds around these days Here’s a quick run down of some of the babies I’ve spotted in my 5MR. A successful Red-shouldered Hawk nest at Ladera Park:

Black-necked Stilts on Ballona Creek:

American Coot at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh:   

Brown-headed Cowbirds are brood parasites. That means that adult Brown-headed Cowbirds don’t bother to build nests of their own. Instead, the female lays her eggs in some other bird’s nest. They’ve been known to use the nest of over 200 different species. When the Brown-headed Cowbird egg hatches, the Brown-headed Cowbird parents do nothing. The other birds raise the young. The cowbird eggs hatch sooner than the other eggs, giving the hatchlings an advantage. This Brown-headed Cowbird was begging along the side of a path at Malibu Lagoon (not in my 5MR). Out from the bushes came a Song Sparrow, who fed the cowbird. It was a ridiculous scene. The cowbird was twice the Song Sparrow’s size.

Brown-headed Cowbird