Top 20 de las aves

20 Aves Distintivo Del Río 
Más de 230 especies han sido observadas y anotadas en a lo largo de la longitud de 52 millas del río de Los Ángeles. Hemos perfilado veinte de las aves más distintivo y notable. 

1. Cinnamon Teal
2. Hooded Merganser
3. Double-Crested Cormorant
4. Great Blue Heron
5. Great Egret
6. Snowy Egret

7. Green Heron
8. Black-Crowned Night-Heron
9. Turkey Vulture
10. Osprey
11. American Kestrel
12. Killdeer
13. Black-Necked Stilt

14. Spotted Sandpiper
15. White-Throated Swift
16. Barn Swallow
17. Black Phoebe
18. Yellow Warbler
19. Redwing Blackbird
20. Bullock's Orio


Cinnamon Teal

One of our smallest, and most attractive ducks, the male cinnamon teal is a  deep chestnut-brown, with powder blue shoulder patches visible in flight. The female is streaked with dark and light brown, and is therefore hard to distinguish from other female duck species, except by size, bill structure, and subtle plumage field marks. This teal is most often seen in early spring and in the fall migration. The cinnamon teal sticks to the more densely vegetated portions of the river, such as the Glendale Narrows, but can be fairly common at the Willow Street pool in north Long Beach. Among the more sought-after western species by visiting birdwatchers, this duck is present on the river in varying numbers year-round. When nesting, the teal builds a simple, bowl-shaped nest out of woven dried grasses hidden in dense vegetation, often within several feet of standing water. Increasing more common is the related Blue-winged Teal, the male of which has a striking blue-gray head with a large, crescent-moon patch between the eye and the base of the bill.  Back to top



Hooded Merganser

A smallish duck, this stunning, round-crested species is found in small numbers in the middle reaches of the river, especially in the Glendale Narrows, and only in late fall and winter. Small groups of mergansers, both males and females, which are dull brown throughout, are often seen feeding in swiftly flowing water, where they dive for small fish, crayfish (which were introduced from the eastern U.S. in our area long ago) and aquatic insects. They stick close to overhanging vegetation, and are more shy than more common ducks, like the Mallard or American Wigeon. The hooded merganser, once a rare in the Los Angeles area, has become more common with the advent of year-round freshwater in places like the LA River, secluded golf course ponds, and other constructed water features that attract the species’ prey. While similar to the tiny Bufflehead,  a duck found on the river in mid-winter, the rich brown coloration is unique to the merganser of the merganser. It's hard to mistake a "hoodie" for anything else.Back to top




Double-crested Cormorant

One of the most asked-about species on the river is the cormorant, a large, long-necked water bird common year-round in all soft-bottomed stretches of the river, including the lower-most portion near Long Beach Harbor. Large numbers of these birds feed along the river, paddling through the water with webbed feet and distinctive yellowish bills with a slight upward tilt. The cormorants have at least one nesting colony in the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area’s lake east of Woodley Avenue, where several dozen breeding pairs have constructed a rookery in the large poplar trees. Roosting birds may be seen on rocks or debris in the river channel any month of the year. Though occasionally mistaken for a heron or egret, the cormorant's distinctive long necked, short-legged profile should give them away. Back to top




Great Blue Heron

This heron, with its blue-gray plumage and long, curved neck, is one of the archetypal birds of the L.A. River. Its image appears on gates, murals, and in printed literature about the river. And for good reason. The great blue heron is a large, almost prehistoric-looking bird common along the entire length of the LA river. Like the cormorant, this heron has at least one nesting colony, or rookery, in the Sepulveda Basin, in the tall trees adjacent to and within the Balboa Golf Course. Pairs of birds build massive nests out of sticks, which they carry one by one, to a high, strong branch. They often start the process in early winter, long before most birds. The breeding season can last through summer, with gangly young birds still standing in the nests in early fall. After the nesting season, large numbers of these herons can be seen fishing in shallow areas of the river, even along the cement-bottomed stretches between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach. You can often glimpse great blue herons in flight from the vantage point of the freeway, the bird’s massive wings flapping, its long, long legs extending behind.Back to top










Great Egret/Snowy Egret

Pure white plumage, long legs, dagger bill - this can only be an egret. The great egret is about the size of a great blue heron, with a long yellow bill. The snowy egret is about half the size, with a thin black bill and bright yellow feet. The great egret’s diet includes small mammals, reptiles and non-aquatic animals. The snowy egret dines on fish and seafood, especially crayfish. Accordingly, the great egret is often seen stalking gophers in grassy spots alongside the river, or on dry islands in midstream. The snowy egret moves from rock to rock in and along the river itself, scanning the shallows for prey. Both species nest in the region, though they have not yet been confirmed as doing so along the river. They roost in small numbers in willows and other trees, and are often seen in the willows in the river bottom between Bette Davis Park and Griffith Park. They’re particularly easy to spot in late summer, when local numbers are augmented by fall migrants.Back to top











Green Heron

With a loud croak, a crow-sized bird bursts out of a low tree, flaps a few times, and vanishes into a reed bed. That’s a typical encounter with the green heron, the smallest member of this family you're likely to see along the river. Unlike the larger herons and egrets, this enigmatic bird is solitary. Streaked with chestnut below and dark green above, these compact herons are often spotted standing perfectly still on a low branch or crouched on a boulder, blending in to the point of near-invisibility. The dense groves of willows and other trees in the Sepulveda Basin and the Glendale Narrows are the best spots to find this species.  Often  (optimistically) confused with the rare least bittern, the green heron lacks the bright wing patches and patterning of the bittern. It can also be mistaken for a young black-crowned ight-heron (see below).Back to top





Black-crowned Night Heron

Another popular species along the river, the night heron, with its over-sized, reddish eyes and its deliberately slow, almost mechanical movements,  is often described as "prehistoric". One of the most distinctive waders, the short-necked herons appear egg-shaped, with a characteristic hunchback posture. Like cormorants, gulls, and white-crowned sparrows, the first-year night herons look totally different from the adults. Juvenile birds are entirely streaked and speckled with tan and brown, similar to a female duck. By the second year, their plumage is mostly a silvery gray. By their third year, night herons develop immaculate white under parts, and a glossy black cap and back. They still retain their distinctive build and posture. Active mainly after dark, night herons can keep hidden during the day, typically roosting in dense foliage, or in secluded reed beds. However, if you spend enough time walking or biking along the river, particularly early in the morning or in the late afternoon you're bound to see one or two flying a few feet above the water's surface, or sailing into a roost site.Back to top










Turkey Vulture

Every year, LA residents are surprised by the appearance of these enormous hawk-like birds. They arrive in September, midway through their annual migration from the Great Basin and Pacific Northwest, through California and into Mexico. Teetering on slightly tilted wings, vultures lazily circle soar, rarely in a hurry. They’re almost never seen landing along the river. Turkey vultures are distinguishable from hawks by their plumage, entirely black in all ages. They have slightly two-toned wings (note that color morphs of the very common Red-tailed Hawk can appear almost as dark as a vulture) and, if seen at close range, a small, bald head. Historically, Los Angeles’s abundant eucalyptus groves and ranch yards supported a good-sized population. Today, though, we mainly see migrants, those groves and ranches now a thing of the past. Still, these birds are present all winter in the San Fernando Valley, and may even nest high on rock outcrops in Griffith Park and the Verdugo Mountains. Wander southeast through downtown LA and south to Long Beach, and small wintering groups may still be found roosting in secluded groves of eucalyptus and other trees, most often found in older residential neighborhoods.Back to top











Spot a long-winged, whitish hawk soaring over the LA River any time of year and chances are, it’s an osprey. This fish-eating raptor is found around lakes and large rivers throughout the world. In the Los Angeles Basin, it has miles of carp-filled rivers and acres of reservoirs to choose from. It is distinguishable from the more-common red-tailed hawk by its very long wings, held locked in a distinctive "M" shape when gliding. The osprey also has large black splotches at the ‘wrists’ mid-way down the wings. When perched, the bird’s plumage reveals striking contrast -- pure white below, blackish above, with a thick black line through the eye. Ospreys are frequently seen carrying fish, including large specimens, something no other local raptor tends to do. Though this species may have nested in the area prior to 1900, in the past century they have been strictly non-breeding visitors who are especially numerous during their fall migration. Recent nesting has been noted in urbanized San Diego and Orange County, and atop very high structures, such as stadium lights. It's probably just a matter of time before they attempt to nest along the LA River.Back to top









American Kestrel

Our smallest raptor, this dove-sized falcon is most often seen on utility lines over grassy vacant lots, silently studying the ground for the movement of a mouse or grasshopper, motionless save for a bobbing tail. A boldly-patterned bird, its plumage speckled below and barred above, it has a dark black helmet pattern on its head. The males have blue-ish wings, while females are entirely brown. Formerly abundant throughout Southern California, the kestrel has been in decline for years. However, it can still be seen wherever there is enough open ground for hunting, and where it can find a perch from which to survey this ground. The lower LA River, from downtown LA through north Long Beach, remains an excellent place to see a kestrel in fall and early winter. For nesting, these birds seem to prefer old palm trees. The base of the palm fronds forms a sort of cavity, and the kestrels bury their nests deep in the recess. They’ll also use cavities in roofs and even street signs, provided they are left undisturbed.Back to top





Among the loudest bird species along the river (the black-necked stilt probably takes that prize) is the Killdeer, "the shorebird that isn't". Killdeer prefer expanses of flat, bare ground for foraging. They’re also found on rocky areas of the river channel, such as in the Glendale Narrows, and just as often, on bare cement at the waterline. When standing, they are identified by clear white underparts, with two broad black chest bands, a feature shared by no other local bird. In flight, killdeer are even more distinctive. They move on long, falcon-like wings, with bright orange coloration near the base of the tail, and a loud, repetitive "killeee!" call. Killdeer breed locally along the river, mainly in wide spots on access roads, and in odd strips of bare ground, such as along a utility right-of-way. They also often turn up at construction sites, where they forage on recently-dug earth and, as a result, sometimes place their nests in inconvenient spots.Back to top




Black-necked Stilt

Loud and bold, standing tall on impossibly long, twig-like pink legs, the stilt is one of the more distinctive and bizarre birds of the river. Like the killdeer, this shorebird doesn't necessarily occupy shoreline. It favors very shallow, often algae-filled water from which it can pluck fly larva, and other near-microscopic food items from the water's surface with its needle-like bill. In late summer, hundreds of stilts converge on the lower river, from the area around downtown LA, and south into northern Long Beach. Many of these stilts overwinter with a variety of other shorebirds, including the similar, but rarer, American Avocet. By early spring, many have left the river for the Salton Sea, or for breeding areas in the Central Valley. A handful remain and attempt to breed, often successfully, on mud patches along the cement floor of the channelized portions of the river. Formerly confined to the now-vanished seasonal alkali wetlands that once dotted the lower LA Basin, stilts seem to find the slightly alkaline conditions of the cement and algae-filled water to their liking, and so have managed to adapt to a drastically changed landscape.Back to top




Spotted Sandpiper

Spend a few minutes at the river’s edge and you'll likely soon see this little sandpiper, bobbing its rear end up and down as it hops from rock to rock, picking off insects in riffles. Dull brown above and white below, both sexes develop a splash of brown speckles on their underparts during the breeding season. Hence its name. Catch sight of one in flight, and you'll see one of the more distinctive flight patterns of any local bird - wings held straight out from the body, oddly vibrating but not really flapping. The spotted sandpiper, originally found in streams and small ponds, has also adapted well to the permanent water of the LA River, even nesting on islands within the channel. This species, while migratory, is never seen during late summer and winter on the lower river, in the same large numbers as its relatives, the least and Western sandpipers.Back to top




White-throated Swift

To catch a flying insect, you have to move like one. Look up on a cloudy day any time of year and you may see, high overhead, tiny birds with long, sickle-shaped wings, darting in wide circles and figure-eights. These are likely white-throated swifts. A species that historically nested in fissures in remote cliff, it has more recently adapted well to the "weep-holes" built into the bases of bridges and overpasses to drain moisture. Another clue to its presence is the loud, insect-like chatter given by pairs in flight. Scan the sky in spring after hearing this call, and you might glimpse a pair of white-throated swifts locked together by their claws, pin-wheeling toward earth, then pulling apart at the last moment. Though this is the most common swift in the area, during migration and locally in winter, huge numbers of the small, blackish Vaux's Swift also occur, often in the same flocks as their white-throated cousins. Related to the chimney swift, the Vaux's swift also roosts in buildings, often in abandoned elevator shafts. Several regular roosting sites have recently been discovered in downtown L.A., near favorite foraging spots along the river.Back to top




Barn Swallow

One of the most graceful birds along the river -- or anywhere -- is the sleek, fork-tailed Barn Swallow. Present only in migration during most of the 1900s, in recent years it has nested regularly under bridges and in culverts in some of the most urban landscapes in the country, including the LA River. This species is distinguished from other swallows and swifts  by its extremely long tail, which is often held in a sharp point, as well as by the bright buffy-orange coloration on the underparts. Though a handful of birds winters along the river, barn swallows are probably most common in April, the start of the nesting season. You’ll see them again in July and August, when flocks arrive after breeding elsewhere. Considered the same species as the "Swallow" in the Old World, which is paler below, this is one of the birds most often mentioned in literature. Improbably, the barn swallow connects modern marvels like the 105-710 Freeway interchange with a rustic country lane in England.Back to top




Black Phoebe

If there's one bird that more people notice and wonder about in urban LA, it's the tuxedo-clad black phoebe. Tame and easy to study, the phoebe is topped with a subtle crest. Its habit of flying out after insects and returning to the same perch helps identify it as a flycatcher. Its loud call of "fee-bee!" echoes from seemingly every city block and bridge. The phoebe is frequently one of the few nesting species in the most urbanized areas of the city, such as warehouse districts and dense residential areas. The phoebe surged in abundance in the area during the 1990s, when it overcame its preference to nest near water and started using  porches, patios, or open garages - anywhere a little mud-and-grass platform for a couple eggs could fit. Along the LA River, phoebes are often seen perched on rocks within the water itself, fly-catching out from the bank over the water, or teed-up on fences and overhanging wires.Back to top











Yellow Warbler

Tiny and bright yellow, the yellow warbler is heard more often than it is seen. Get a good look at one, though, and you won’t soon forget it. Unlike the many river species that adapted to the built environment, the yellow warbler was almost lost entirely as a nesting species in Los Angeles due to the destruction of its breeding habitat, the willow-dominated riparian forest. As willows, cottonwoods and other riparian trees proliferated in soft-bottomed stretches of the LA River and large flood-control basins like the Sepulveda Basin and Hansen Dam, the nesting warbler has reappeared. Today, a springtime walk down the bike path through the Sepulveda Basin or the Glendale Narrows will likely yield a yellow warbler delivering its ringing "sweet, sweet-sweet-sweet" song every few hundred feet. In mid-summer, you might find family groups in the denser canopy of willows, the bright yellow adults making long flights over the tops of trees, bringing food to the ash-colored young.Back to top




Red-winged Blackbird

In early January, any vegetated stretch of the LA River should be filled with singing redwings. Sexes differ strikingly. Males are a solid, glossy black throughout, their bright red shoulder patches edged with yellow. Females, who spend more time in the vegetation and are less inclined to bray their loud "onk-raaaay" song from the tops of willows, are thickly streaked with black and gray. Found in freshwater wetlands throughout North America, the breeding population along the LA River is isolated from others by several miles, as marsh habitat is scattered in small pockets throughout the urban landscape. In early spring, males and females engage in nest-building. Working in colonies of several pairs, they weave solid-looking cups from plant fibers and thin grasses. They set these deep in dense reed beds and other wet, herbaceous plants, including tall stands of mustard or dense thistle. May and June bring a riot of bob-tailed young out of the nest, begging loudly for food. The parents fly back and forth from foraging areas, which are often wet lawns or, where they remain along the lower river, horse stables.Back to top




Bullock's Oriole

Like the yellow warbler, the Bullock’s oriole is not an urban-adapted species. Instead, it finds just enough to like about the LA River's present habitat to keep it around. The males are vibrantly yellow-orange below, with large white flashes in blackish wings. A characteristic bird of summer, the male first appears in late March, its presence revealed by loud, chattering calls. The more females, their plumage more muted, arrive a few weeks later to pick a mate. By late April females are busy weaving their distinctive nests, pouches hung from trees. The males sing their loud, rollicking whistles from the nearby tops of sycamores, eucalyptus, and other tall trees. Places to observe orioles include the edge of the golf course just north of the Los Feliz Avenue bridge, or at DeForest Park in Long Beach. A jog or ride along river in April and May, though, should result in oriole sightings, flashes of yellow-orange darting overhead, or swooping into a willow in search of an insect to bring back to a nest. By late July, the show's over. Most of the Bullock's orioles will have moved to the south, where they winter in the subtropical dry forest of west Mexico.Back to top



written by Daniel S. Cooper;  most individual bird photographs by Christopher Wolf