Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Bird Sanctuary at Lake Merritt

Once a week or so, I pick up a nice little Vietnamese sandwich in China town and then go over to the bird sanctuary along Lake Merritt, over there by the Junior Center of Art and Science. You know, the first wildlife sanctuary in the United States, established in 1870? Until today I didn't know either. That's yet another point of pride for Oakland, which we ought to be trumpeting more loudly.

A black-crowned night-heron at Lake Merritt. While the name and the red eyes may make these fellows seem slightly malevolent, they're really pretty mellow.

As much as I enjoy the herons and cranes and grebes and canvasbacks over there, I can't help but wonder how to explain several observations. If you have info, by all means share in the comments.

1) There's a geodesic dome with birds in it. As I later learned from a user at, the dome is "one of the first, and probably the longest surviving of [Buckminster Fuller's] ingenious domes." Another first! The mystery is what the purpose is of the birds in it? It doesn't seem that they can get in and out, but the species inside are the same as the ones outside, and they don't seem to be injured. The upkeep inside the dome doesn't seem to be great. What's the story on this?

2) In addition to all the native critters that take advantage of the sanctuary, there was a chicken wandering around today. Now, I'm no ornithologist but I'll wager chickens aren't native fauna.

I know it's challenging to keep a place clean when birds are flying everywhere, but the upkeep of some of the facilities (especially that dome) and groundskeeping seems like the city hasn't paid it much attention recently. Even a few more informational plaques about what they're doing there would really help the public appreciate it more. This spot has the potential to be a really outstanding family and outdoor destination.

1 comment:

  1. I came across your lovely post while looking up information about the Lake. I haven't seen a chicken there but I love seeing the pelicans.

    So many stories in the Lake. Sixth graders at St. Paul's pulled out brand-new pink Puma sneakers, size Men's 10.5 with the tag still on, the other day. What happened? Someone didn't like his Valentine's gift?