By BARRY LANK
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.
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