Are Silver Lake ducks losing their way without the reservoir?

Ivanhoe ducks 3

Ducks wandering around the reservoir | Eva Lontscharitsch


SILVER LAKE — When all the water was drained out of Silver Lake Reservoir, how did the ducks feel about it?

Many people living near the reservoir say ducks and ducklings are wandering around, looking lost, attracting coyotes and turning up dead on people’s driveways. But the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says it can’t find proof that the temporary draining of the reservoir has displaced the ducks.

Anne Marie Johnson – who is running for neighborhood council on the Silver Lake United slate – reports having ducks in her pool in the mornings and evenings for the past three seasons. Another neighbor, Suzanne Obdrzalek, said she fostered one of the ducklings before someone took it to a wildlife refuge in Calabasas.

“Apparently the people at the refuge said that if she hadn’t brought it there the duck would have died because it was so young,” Obdrzalek said. “They were able to care for it with an incubator.”

Then come the coyotes. Even a coyote tagged by the National Park Service to track urban movements ended up in Silver Lake, and ducklings are an easy meal, even for coyote pups.

Johnson said her neighbors talked about a family of ducks waddling around Kenilworth Avenue for a few days – until one night, when people heard ducklings being killed by a pair of coyotes.

“It was, unfortunately, nature taking its course,” Johnson said.

The LADWP, however, said it has not been able to find a problem.

“The LADWP biologists have determined there has been no documentable impact or effect on the local animal population,” said Amanda Parsons, LADWP’s manager of media relations. “There are still plenty of nesting birds, mallards, coyotes, raccoons, and other animals in the project area.”

But Dr. Thomas Smith, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA, said “The drying up of water bodies having deleterious effects on water bird populations is well documented.”

That issue could remain relevant for awhile, given that the LADWP still has no clear timeline for refilling the reservoir.

Plus, Smith said, some ducks can’t necessarily just fly off in search of another big body of water.

“Many birds are philopatric,” Smith said, “returning to where they were born to breed. It’s possible that some individuals are returning to find insufficient water and this is having an effect on behavior.”

Barry Lank grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, then went away for a seriously long time. He has worked in TV and radio, and currently helps produce The Final Edition Radio Hour.


A duckling in Anne Johnson’s pool

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  1. anything to save a dollar that wasn’t theirs to begin with. savages.

  2. Mark Snelgrove

    I think this very valid question should be posed to a few other groups that might have a differing opinion. I would not expect the DWP to have a valid answer on this subject (i.e. Ducks Unlimited). My amature opinion says, “yes, migratory birds are impacted by the removal of a large body of water”. I would follow that with a request that the black anti-evaporation balls be removed from the anterior reservoir so there is a spot for the birds to take refuge from their journey.

  3. Remove the balls!

  4. I live on busy Rowena by 7-11 and i found a mother and her ducklings in our building they were very lost and the family made it up a few dozen stairs and through the parking lot . i called animal control told them about them they told me to leave them alone it is nature so i did. crossing Rowena and Hyperion is far from nature i fear for my life crossing. LADWP biologists are heartless much like most city & state workers.

  5. The LADWP claims “no documentable impact or effect on the local animal population”?!

    Of course ducks and other waterfowl are going to be seriously affected when you remove a body of water that has been there for decades. And the LADWP, as usual, has been totally irresponsible.

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